Thousands attend the Portland Pride Parade to celebrate diversity and continue to fight for equal rights

Thousands marched in Portland’s Pride Parade on Sunday to celebrate the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community – but also to highlight the challenges that remain.

“While people may think we’re in the 21st century and have moved on, it’s even more important these days to get out there and show our pride,” said Babylon Brooks, Levi Carpenter’s character.

Babylon Brooks, who walked in the parade with the charity group Sweethearts of Portland, raised concerns about anti-gay and anti-trans bills that had been introduced in the Midwest and South, and the alleged thwarted attempt white nationalists to disrupt a Pride event in northern Idaho earlier this month.

“No matter how you try to legislate against us, no matter how you try to ban our existence, we’re still here,” Babylon Brooks said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

With the roar of Dykes on Bikes motorcycles all the way ahead, the parade kicked off at 11 a.m.

Rainbow-clad walkers, including drag queens, bikers, military veterans, church groups, bands and choirs, firefighters, health care providers, horse trainers and corporate employees, made their way from the city’s Old Town neighborhood, starting outside Pride Northwest’s “Never Look Away” along Northwest Couch Street, to Tom McCall Waterfront Park for more than two hours.

Debra Porta, executive director of the nonprofit Pride Northwest, said the parade route was changed to highlight the mural, which features eight faces of national and local people who have actively supported the LGBTQ community. +, national transgender rights advocate and actress Angelica Ross in retired Oregon. Supreme Court Justice Lynn Nakamoto.

Porta was happy to return to the show after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

“The isolation is real for our community, so nothing beats the energy, the vibe, of being in person,” Porta said. “Our numerical strength reminds us that we are not alone.”

Bolivia Carmichaels, the Daniel P. Elliott drag character who has entertained audiences throughout the Portland area since 1994, was the parade grand marshal.

After hosting a party Saturday night at CC Slaughters Nightclub and Lounge, Bolivia Carmichaels wore a sequined pink dress and cheered on fellow parade attendees on Sunday. During the height of the pandemic, Carmichaels hosted free weekly virtual shows, traveling performances and even a “Drag-Thru” takeout line.

“Words cannot begin to express the love I have for our city and our community,” Carmichaels said. “It has been my life’s purpose to ensure that everyone is included, recognized, supported and loved for their authentic selves. This parade today and the festivities throughout the city are our way of celebrating our individuality as well as our strength as a community.

Crowds of people from at least three depths lined the road, some showing up more than two hours early to grab the best vantage points.

Rex Daw, 62, of Portland, sat in a chair along Northwest Couch Street near Second Avenue, reading a book at 9 a.m., waiting for the parade to begin two hours later. He said he came to cheer on his grandchildren, who were marching with a relative, a Macy’s employee. “The gay community needs all the support we can give them,” Daw said.

Lannie Kali sat in a lawn chair along Couch Street next to his wife Maria Kali, while their 13-year-old daughter Dania sat on the sidewalk in front of them.

“It’s our national holiday,” said Lannie Kali. “We are lesbian mothers, and we have a bisexual daughter and a gay son.”

She expressed concern over the arrests of white nationalist members accused of trying to riot during the Pride Parade in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho earlier this month. “It’s even more important to be here,” said Lannie Kali. “It’s important for young people to see people like us.

“I grew up going to Pride,” Dania added.

Marchers and parade participants wore rainbow-colored tutus, feather boas, socks, masks, hats and shoes.

Carl and Alison Richter’s hairless Chinese Crested dog sported a mini rainbow cowboy hat, rainbow coat and long rainbow tie as he stood on a “Tommy Bahamas” folding beach chair, waiting for the start of the parade.

Kat Jambor, co-owner of gay-run horse rescue program Once Upon a Rescue in Damascus, Oregon, painted a horse named Arrow red, white and blue before leading it through the parade.

With so much trauma experienced by members of the queer community, Once Upon a Rescue strives to connect people to horses in therapeutic ways to help build self-confidence, Jambor said.

Some marchers carried signs reading “Trans people belong in sport”, “Proud mother of a bicycle dyke” and “Love is love”. One group distributed condoms to adults in party favor bags.

Tyree Elliott usually watches the parade, but this year there is a parade with colleagues from the Beaverton marijuana store called Green Mart. “As a black, LGBTQ guy, this place feels like home, feels like family,” he said of his employer, where he’s worked for about eight months.

Reverend Nathan Meckley of the Metropolitan Community Church said queer church members have been marching in the Pride Parade since 1976. “It’s so important that gays, lesbians and trans people understand that God loves us and that God created us. just as we are. We are here to tell them that they are beloved children of God.

Familiar faces, such as U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, former Portland Mayor Sam Adams and City Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Dan Ryan were among those who joined in the celebrations.

Uniformed police or police chiefs were conspicuously absent, as Pride Northwest adopted a policy that the group did not want uniformed or armed police marching.

“Because there’s a lot of symbolism in that uniform that’s incredibly triggering and traumatic for a lot of people in the community,” Porta explained. “It doesn’t take away from all the hard work LGBTQ officers have put in to get to where they are. But there is a larger conversation that needs to take place because of the story and the impact on our community.

The group’s written policy notes, “The ever-increasing use of violence against our citizens, many of whom are part of the LGBTQ+ community, is both chilling and unacceptable. As Pride Northwest remains committed to a commitment that ends the violence, we are compelled to take additional action now.

Aside from a Portland Police car near the front of the parade, no group of Portland Police marchers appeared.

sergeant. Kevin Allen, a Portland Police spokesman, said ahead of the event, “Our involvement will be nothing but supportive.”

Robert Ball, a local property developer and former Portland Police Reserve commander who is gay and who has marched in uniform in Portland Pride parades in recent years with a group of police officers, called the change in policy unfortunate.

“Trust comes when you engage and associate with the police,” he said. “LGBTQ+ police officers have struggled to come out of the closet in the workplace and march in parade. Pride Northwest is trying to put LGBTQ+ agents back in the closet with this action.

In 1991, Portland Police Chief Tom Potter joined the parade to show solidarity with his daughter, Katie, a Portland police officer who had just been released. Potter also wanted to show the gay community that they could count on fair treatment from the police, after a long history of targeting.

Portland Fire Department showed up.

As firefighter Christine Pezzulo helped decorate a Portland fire truck with rainbow-colored ribbon, she said it was important to participate in the parade.

“It shows our community that we’re inclusive, that diversity matters,” Pezzulo said. “As a fire service, it is essential that we are represented.”

Pride Northwest had dozens of volunteers wearing fluorescent vests who helped patrol the parade route. Public transport security has also been organized along the bus lines.

Tobyn Gendron waved bubbles at the corner of Northwest Second Avenue and Couch, as he reserved a spot for other members of his LGBTQ+ Christian group to join him. Gendron, who lives in Newberg with her husband, said he was relieved to be “coming out” of the pandemic for an in-person Pride parade and festival.

“We need to celebrate who we are and share a sense of solidarity with each other,” he said.

–Maxine Bernstein

Email to [email protected]; 503-221-8212

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