Why Pride?

By Kris McDowell

June is recognized as Pride Month in many parts of the world. While the month has officially concluded, Pride celebrations continue in Portland. One of the largest and most visible is the annual family-friendly Portland Pride Festival at Waterfront Park. There are also hundreds of other events that take place throughout the city that support and embrace the LGBTQ+ community.
The gay rights movement is nothing new, however, with organizations like the Society for Human Rights dating to the early 1900s. There were other small groups, as well, that became vocal about protesting discrimination against gays and lesbians following World War II and publishing gay- and lesbian-positive newsletters. But it wasn’t until one night in June 1969 when the movement was propelled toward the larger, more widely recognized form that it has become today.
What is known as the Stonewall Riots took place at the end of June that year in a Greenwich Village (Manhattan, NY) bar, the Stonewall Inn. The bar was known to be a location where gays and lesbians gathered. On the evening of June 28, it was raided by the New York Police Department. What followed were six days of protests and violent clashes between police and patrons, employees and the neighborhood. The riots made front-page news worldwide and changed what had previously been an issue ignored by the media and politicians into a front-and-center issue.
The following year, the Gay Pride Parade took place in the streets of Manhattan and here at home, gay Portlanders started organizing, according to the Oregon Historical Society. Fast forward to 1976 when the first Portland Pride parade took place and in 1977 a proclamation was made by then-mayor Neil Goldschmidt of Gay Pride Day. Throughout the years, Portland and Oregon have seen their share of successes-Portland adopted an ordinance in December 1974 to protect the civil rights of gays and lesbians-and setbacks, including a conservative backlash in the 1980s and 1990s, in the prejudice and treatment of gays.
Today Portland is known far and wide as a gay-friendly destination and Pride Northwest, founded in 1944, produces the annual Portland Pride Festival on the Portland Waterfront. The festival, and the many other Pride events around town, are a public celebration and show of support for the LGBTQ+ community. The organization, like many others, works year-round to continue to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.
As much progress as has been made in the last 50 years, there is still much more progress to make, both locally and nationally. Pride events certainly bring event-specific attention to the movement; however, it’s important to remember that the quieter, less visible work is ongoing and is important to working to protect the LGBTQ+ community.

Why Pride?

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