Pride 2012 commandments: Thou shalt sparkle, shine, shimmy — and expand thy comfort zone

By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly


Photo by Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News

Pride is about celebrating our authentic selves — a time to shed the daily drag of being who the world requires us to be and let our unique light shine through. Fortunately, the LGBTQ communities in our region recognize this and have created a host of celebrations catering to a wide range of experiences and identities.

The event listings found here reflect that diversity and speak to level of engagement in the LGBTQ community around Pride. Between June 14 and July 22 (the dates this issue covers), we will show our Pride in more than 58 ways.

If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. Pride 2012 in Oregon and SW Washington (which actually began in early June with Portland Black Pride, Eastern Oregon/Bend Pride, and Beartown) has something for everyone. There are block parties, dance nights, performances, BBQs, networking events, marches, breakfasts, pageants, athletic events, tours, dykes on bikes (and bicycles), drag shows, and even water slides and astro-turf.

Part of this incredible diversity is the organic outgrowth of our collective fabulosity. But some of it’s curated too.

Debra Porta is one of those curators. As president of Pride NW (the organization that puts on the Portland Pride Festival and Parade), Porta is essentially tasked with throwing a week-long party that appeals to, well, everyone. Since that sort of broad appeal is nearly impossible to achieve in a single event, Pride NW is branching out this year.

“In an effort to expand the reach of the city’s Pride celebrations, Pride NW is sponsoring more events over the course of Pride week, and generally giving people more ways to engage with Pride,” Porta says. “In looking around at other festivals that most closely aligned with our vision and mission, we noticed that those Prides weren’t necessarily one big bang — they are a series of events throughout the week, incorporating events that appeal to a broad spectrum of the community.”

This includes both additional events for as well as a VIP option for the Waterfront Festival that offers a specialized experience and creates much-needed revenue for the organization.

Official events were chosen based on a few criteria, including their potential to raise funds to sustain Pride NW and their likelihood to appeal to underserved segments of the LGBTQ community, such as families and seniors.

Beyond Pride NW, other organizations have tailored their events to particular audiences. The Vancouver, Wash., Pride celebration “Saturday in the Park” is an intentionally “family-friendly” affair. The July 14 event began as a way to celebrate LGBTQ rights victories and has continued to be a means through which the community gathers with family and friends to show pride.

Portland Latino Gay Pride (PLGP) likewise seeks to create a welcoming space for folks not always explicitly included in broader Pride festivities.

That diversity is not just a challenge for Pride organizers, but a boon to the rest of the community. While it’s important to see oneself reflected in Pride event programming, there is much to be gained from attending events that offer different perspectives and experiences.

“I believe, when it comes to ‘people of color’ [events], people have a stronger reaction or response. There is a quicker reaction of, well ‘that’s for THEM’ or ‘that’s not for ME.’ It immediately becomes ‘us’ and ‘them’ and people exclude themselves,” says PLGP Chair David Martínez. “It’s one thing to feel uncomfortable [being outside your comfort zone], but when it keeps a person from learning about others and new experiences, it is unfortunate to everyone. We learn more from people who are not like us, bottom line.”

So as you peruse our comprehensive event listings, make note of the ones that speak to your experiences and interests, but also consider attending an event not tailored to your culture or clique. The outcome may surprise you.