As tragic news rocks the queer community, the Salt Lake City Club continues a Thanksgiving tradition

“The universe brought me here to be myself.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City on Thursday, November 24, 2022.

For Jasmine Post, Thanksgiving is more than just an annual meal — it’s the day she revealed her true self to the world.

Post came out as a trans woman while on vacation in 2019, a year after moving to Salt Lake City from Seattle. In the years since, she’s also found a sense of belonging to Utah’s queer community.

“The universe brought me here,” Post said, “to become myself.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jasmine Post wears rainbow jewelry during a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City, Thursday, November 24, 2022.

She thought she’d been an introvert all her life, but after making the switch and visiting LGBTQ-safe spaces, her vibrant personality came out. And in Salt Lake City’s gay clubs, she discovered something else about herself.

“Dance feeds my soul,” Post said, adorning her ears with a row of rainbow studs, “like nothing else.”

She was one of about two dozen people who opted for Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse, sipping wine and enjoying a spread with all the traditional sides — roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, pie and carved turkey.

Tēcuani Oliver-McKee, who is disabled and uses he/him pronouns, recently moved back to Salt Lake City. He is struggling to find stable housing and said he has no support network in town.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City on Thursday, November 24, 2022.

“I don’t give myself opportunities to be social,” Oliver-McKee said, adding that he is autistic. “…It was nice to come out.”

It’s the eighth time Michael Repp has hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for those who don’t have family or other places they feel comfortable spending the holidays.

The tradition started at legendary gay bar Sun Trapp, but Repp moved the fest with him when he broke ties there and opened Club Verse almost a month ago.

“As of last night, we had just over 7,000 people through our door,” Repp said. “Not bad for no ads.”

But the front door of the club has recently been renovated. A prominent metal detector now greets guests as they enter, a stark reminder of the fatal shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs that occurred just days ago.

“Was it a reaction to Club Q?” Repp said of the new sensor. “Absolutely yes.”

He works to increase security throughout the club and has guards trained for crisis situations. He wants the club to feel like a welcoming place where guests feel free to be themselves.

“We will be the safest place in town,” Repp said, “and we will continue to do what we’ve always done.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) Friends and guests attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Club Verse in Salt Lake City on Thursday, November 24, 2022.

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