Sunday, June 17, 2007

Portland Gay Pride Parade (UPDATE)

Portland Gay Pride and Darcelle.jpg Dan and Mark in Gay Pride Parade.jpg

Scott and I met Kevin & Kevin at our traditional spot in front of Nordy's to watch the Portland (Gay) Pride Parade. Scott's co-worker, Heather, and her partner, Antoinette(?), also met us. Later, Scott's roommate, Paula, and her sister-in-law, Heather, joined us. Kevilu's and my favorite community group name was "P.L.O.P.": Parenting and Pregnant Lesbians of Portland.

The parade itself is, well, predictable. It's a bunch of gay and gay-friendly community organizations, businesses, employers, and churches coming together to congratulate and support each other. Even the tiny group of anti-gay protesters are predictable (although I did notice they had a bigger "God Abhors You" sign this year).

Since this is the final of three consecutive weekend city parade, I can't help but compare it to the Rose Festival's Starlight and Grand Floral parades. The Pride parade does lack floral floats and only has a few marching bands. However, the Pride parade is much more of a grassroots community event than the bland, scripted, sanitized, corporate-sponsor-friendly Rose Festival parades. What other city event allows churches and political organizations to participate?

Seeing so many familiar faces in this year's parade, I can't help but think about my first time. I "accidentally" attended my first gay pride parade about ten years ago when I was just coming out of the ex-gay process. Having believed the right-wing hype about gay pride prades, I was not surprised to see the embarrassing aspects of the parade like the topless Dykes on Bikes, Radical Faeries, leather/fetish groups, and go-go boys. If anything, the lewdness did not meet my expectations and I found the parade to be pretty tame -- almost boring. What surprised me was that churches and PFLAG were and continue to be some of the largest groups marching in the parade.

I think there are murmurs (at least in the back of my head) about whether a gay parade really is necessary anymore. After all, gay issues are openly discussed. Pride parades have succeeded in their most basic mission of making the gay community so visible and its just fun to get together and see all the different gay-friendly groups. I suppose that is why I still like to go to what is otherwise a predictable and boring parade.

06/18/2007 11:14 AM PDT UPDATE AND REVISION: Added screen shot of Dan and Mark from KGW's report last night. Revised my first draft.

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