Portland Pride Parade shines with rainbow-colored love
Love turned the color of every shade of the rainbow for the 2019 Portland Pride Parade.
Thousands mobilized at the Park Blocks for the Sunday, June 16, festivities, while countless more lined West Burnside Street to watch a cavalcade of floats from local LGBTQ+ groups and dozens of nearby businesses, government agencies, nonprofits, sports teams and churches.
"As long as we all love together — and love each other — then anything is possible," said Kimberly Michelle Westwood.
Westwood was preparing to give up her crown after a year as Empress of the Imperial Soverign Rose Court, which bills itself as the oldest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer organization in Oregon. Joining Westwood as emperor was Daniel Surreal Foxx.
The two-day festival along the waterfront was sponsored by Pride Northwest, with official events including everything from a "Gaylabration" at the Crystal Ballroom to the Big Gay Boat Ride to screenings of the Elton John biopic "Rocketman."
The Q Center hosted a drag queen story hour, the Rose Quarter put on a "Saturgay Brunch" and many others participated in the Portland Dyke March.
Rev. Nathan Meckley, who described himself as an openly gay man since 1983, was there representing Metropolitan Community Church, which first opened its doors to non-heterosexual people in 1968.
"We are always present at Pride," the pastor said. "It still is news to a lot of people that you can be queer and you can be a person of faith."
Though this year's celebration marks the 50th anniversary of a major milestone in the fight for equality — the 1969 police raid and subsequent protests known as the Stonewall Riots — Portland's Pride Parade has transformed into a business-friendly environment for companies looking to brandish their progressive values.
Workers from Alaska Airlines, Comcast, Kaiser Permanente and "Glamazon" made up just a sampling of the corporate groups who participated. TriMet, Multnomah County and local law enforcement agencies also marched.
Eric Scheur, a producer of "The Mystery Box Show," said the seven-year-running revue is intended to demystify sex and relationships by sharing real stories from the bedroom.
As a "cisgendered, heterosexual white person," Scheur hopes audiences leave with the takeway that there's nothing strange about sex, no matter how you do it. "That's when you realize, 'Oh, that's a human being, and so am I,'" he said.
Also spotted at Pride: Mayor Ted Wheeler wearing a rainbow-hued sash with his title on it, and Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Sen. Ron Wyden smiling and waving for the cheering throng.
In an interview, Wyden praised the "amazing turnout" among young people, which he credited to a groundswell pushing back against the federal "administration of discrimination."
"What we saw today is that Oregon is not going to stand for turning back the clock," the senator said. "Fortunately, we have state laws that are stronger than the federal statutes."
Check out more photos from Pride 2019: