20th annual Northwest gay pride festival kicks off in Portland

Pride Northwest President Debra Porta (right) and a Northwest Pride volunteer celebrate at the Scandals Pride Block Party Friday June 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Pride Northwest President Debra Porta (right) and a Northwest Pride volunteer celebrate at the Scandals Pride Block Party Friday June 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

A waitress serves rainbow-themed jello packets at the Scandals Block Party June 13, 2014.
A waitress serves rainbow-themed jello packets at the Scandals Block Party June 13, 2014.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — In the same year Oregon’s same sex couples won the right to marry, Pride Northwest — the region’s LGBT pride festival — is marking its 20th anniversary of celebrating diversity.

Pride Northwest President Debra Porta said this year’s festival is on track to be the biggest yet.

“There’s a lot to celebrate, the energy is really high, and this is the time to come together and be together and celebrate our community,” she said. She said it’s expected the festivities, which run from Friday until Sunday, will draw between 45,000 and 55,000 people, based on last year’s estimates.

“In terms of the community this is a watershed year, with the [marriage] discrimination measure being pulled — we’re turning a corner,” said Porta.

This year’s parade has more than 140 entries, including Portland Staples Nike, Adidas and the Timbers Army, making for 10 more entries than last year. And the event has grown substantially — while last year’s parade drew roughly 25,000 spectators, just three years ago the numbers were estimated at 10,000.

The 44th annual pride parade kicks off at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 15.

Landmark year for transgender community 

Giant bubbles float through the air above the Scandal's Pride Block Party Friday, June 13.
Giant bubbles float through the air above the Scandal’s Pride Block Party Friday, June 13.

For the first time, this year’s Pride Northwest festival will feature a Trans March, an opportunity for transgendered people and their allies to march. Porta said there have been trans marches in past years, but they have not been affiliated with the festival.

“The Trans March is kind of a big deal,” she said. “We still have a lot of work to do there, even though visibility is coming up.” Porta said the transgendered community still has the highest homeless rate, addiction rate and suicide rate within the LGBT community.

A boost for the city

The festival brings people in from Canada, Idaho, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and other destinations. Travel Portland spokesperson Marcus Hibdon said Portland has always been a destination for LGBT travelers, but during Pride weekend, those numbers are cranked right up.

“We know it’s definitely going to be a busy weekend in the city,” he said.

Same sex travelers have always felt very safe in Portland, he said.

“LGBT travelers know they’re not going to be judged in Portland, and Portland’s been that way for a very long time.”

A map of the 2014 Pride Parade route in downtown Portland. (Pride NW)
A map of the 2014 Pride Parade route in downtown Portland. (Pride NW)

Affordable events not to miss

  • Scandals Block Party: 1125 SW Stark Scandals, 1125 SW Stark, 7 pm-close 21 and over — FREE
  • Portland Pride Festival: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, June 14-15 from noon-6 pm — $7
  • 44th Annual Portland Pride Parade: downtown Portland — FREE
  • Visit pridenw.org for more information

 

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