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Folks gather at Long Park to wave the rainbow flag at first-ever Molalla Pride.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID JACKSON - People gather at Long Park for the first-ever Molalla Pride event on Sept. 12.

Molalla has become known in recent months for patriotic flag waves, but on Sept. 12, folks gathered to wave a different kind of flag — the rainbow flag.

About 60 people — including Mayor Scott Keyser, Molalla United Methodist Pastor Jon Hughes and Macksburg Lutheran Pastor Lorin Darst — came together at Long Park for the first-ever Molalla Pride event.

The event could be considered unexpected in the largely conservative Molalla community. In 2020, Keyser was listed as one of three Republican candidates for Molalla mayor in the Clackamas County Republicans voters' guide, and since winning that office, he has not hidden his conservative political leanings. When asked about his participation at the event, he said the following.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID JACKSON - Molalla Mayor Scott Keyser attended Molalla Pride.

"First and foremost, I believe in the constitution. People have the freedom of speech," Keyser said. "They have the freedom to protest. I may not agree with that lifestyle, but I do believe their choice is protected in our country."

According to organizer Hendy Appleton, the purpose of the gathering was to show support and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ members of the community.

"Molalla has shown over and over again that we can come together to care for each other," Appleton said. "Community is bigger than politics, and this event is just another way we can help show love and compassion for some of our neighbors who feel excluded or rejected.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID JACKSON - Molalla Pride participants hold up a 'Love is love' banner.

"I had a couple of young people come up to me at the event. These kids had been afraid to be open about themselves because of bullying and rejection," Appleton said. "They had tears in their eyes — tears of joy —because they never expected to see any kind of support for them in Molalla. That's why we're here today."

The event was originally scheduled for June, which is Pride Month, but it was postponed due to the heatwave. Appleton plans to make Molalla Pride an annual event.

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID JACKSON - A young family pauses for a photo at Molalla Pride on Sept. 12.

Local LGBTQ+ resources

Appleton shared the following local LGBTQ+ resources.

PFLAG of Clackamas County

Web: facebook.com/ClackamasPFLAG/

Phone: 503-887-4556

The Living Room for LGBTQ+ Youth

Web: thelivingroomyouth.org/

Phone: 503-825-2535

Canby Transgender Alliance

Web: facebook.com/groups/399009604212519/

COURTESY PHOTO: DAVID JACKSON - About 60 people gathered at Long Park in Molalla for the pride event.


Kristen Wohlers
Reporter
503-263-7512
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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