Pride Northwest: 2018 in a Nutshell
Pride Northwest as an organization is turning 25 in 2019! Of course, the first LGBTQ+ (Gay) Pride happened in Portland in 1975, but Pride Northwest formed as an official organization in 1994. We have been through lots of ups and downs in 25 years. Like many long-term, growing organizations, there have been things done right, and we have made as many mistakes to match. We have pleased a lot of people, and admittedly, we have pissed off a few along the way too. One thing has never changed and that is Pride Northwest’s commitment to celebrating and strengthening the LGBTQ+ community of Oregon and SW Washington.
Pride celebrations-their size and scope-are direct indicators of the overall health and vitality of the LGBTQ+ community in any given town or city; we believe there isn’t a benefit to our community to shrink or minimize Pride. For this reason, we never forget that our charge is to create a robust Pride organization and celebration; to not only hold a Pride Festival and Parade that celebrates and lifts up our community, but also serves as very clear reminders to the broader community that we are here, we are many, and that we are empowered to ensure that our people are included. Pride Northwest is also committed to ensuring that Pride, and its benefits to our community, is not relegated to one weekend, one week, or even one month out of the year. We are active and engaged year-round.
Pride was originally born out of LGBTQ+ people’s need to be seen, to be heard, and to be valued. The board of directors and staff of Pride Northwest remain committed to providing events and taking actions that increase the visibility and impact of LGBTQ+ people, with an emphasis on traditionally marginalized members of our community. Pride Northwest believes in ensuring that all LGBTQ+ voices are represented and heard, particularly in places where any of our voices have been traditionally excluded.
This includes queer-identified as well as non-queer spaces. We recognize that, sometimes, this results in exploring new places and uncomfortable conversations, but we remain committed to working through that discomfort. Pride Northwest envisions, and is actively working toward, a future of forging strong bonds across an amazingly diverse — and often divergent — community. We believe in constantly striving to coalesce into a true community; where the kind of community resilience that lies at the heart of Pride, is actively sought and achieved. Pride Northwest continues every day to work toward that future.
In order to more actively seek the future we envision, Pride Northwest has, among other things, actively worked to build relationships with diverse organizations, community groups, and agencies across the region. In addition, we have consciously worked to develop a more representative and diverse leadership for the organization. As of the end of 2018, the Pride Northwest Board of Directors’ composition is 50% queer people of color, 25% transgender, and 75% female-identified.
We are working with an eye toward toward building and strengthening the representative nature of what a Pride organization should be. Pride Northwest board members include single parents, and members across the economic spectrum. And, we are not yet where we want to be in meeting our goals for intersectionality and representation. However, as we learn and grow, we will continue to prioritize action and direct engagement with our community and grow Pride Northwest as a whole, with the health and vitality of the community at the forefront of our minds.
As can be expected, financial management of a Pride organization is no easy feat, and it is not at all uncommon in this country for Pride entities to fold; Pride Northwest has come close in the past. However, over the last 6–7 years, we have taken very specific actions to ensure that we are stable and sustainable. As an organization, our top priority is to ensure that we are properly stewarding our community’s financial support, while also utilizing our spotlight to support the community in concrete ways throughout the year. In 2018, a great example of this support was our partnership with Imperfect Produce this year, which allowed us to provide access to fresh vegetables for approximately 1600 people over 6 months. Our summer’s end Root Queer Floats, which brought over a hundred community members together to support our LGBTQ+ youth, was a great success and helped us to provide the 2018 LGBTQ+ Youth Holiday Celebration. We were able to provide a wonderful year-end celebration for around 25 LGBTQ+ youth, with lots of food, gifts, and Drag Bingo (thank you to reigning Imperial Sovereign Rose Court Empress Kimberly Westwood!).
Pride Northwest’s main program, the annual Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade, continues to grow and has become a nationally-recognized Pride celebration. Portland Pride is the largest LGBTQ+ cultural event in Oregon and SW Washington, and serves as the preeminent visibility vehicle for LGBTQ+ and allied community organizations and businesses, to raise critical funds, engage much-needed volunteers, grow their businesses, and organize community. With festival attendance in excess of 50,000 people and a parade with close to 10,000 marchers and 165 different groups, Portland Pride puts the visibility and presence of our community front and center each year.
Pride Northwest remains committed to ensuring that Portland Pride remains affordable to all. As costs continue to rise, not only are we able to provide much needed visibility and connection for the many LGBTQ+ and allied organizations and businesses, we are able to ensure that participation is affordable, through $36,000 in vendor booth sponsorship. In addition, Pride Northwest sponsors various community spaces within the Pride Waterfront Festival, including the Family, Youth, and Senior Tents; the Pride Collective (QTPOC-led and centered); GLAPN (Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest), and others — while also remaining donation-based to ensure access to our entire community. In order to provide this support, Pride Northwest fundraises year-round and continues to diversify our funding options.
In addition to the festival itself, we have consistently been able to support a number of community efforts. These include, supporting the efforts of the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court, the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund (Peacock in the Park), the Oregon Queer Students of Color Conference, the Queer Youth Summit, Transgender Day of Remembrance, various Pride celebrations around Oregon and SW Washington, and ongoing support of incarcerated LGBTQ+ youth at the McLaren Youth Correctional Facility.
In 2018 Pride Northwest, in partnership with GLAPN and LGBTQ+ community historians, was thrilled to launch the George T. Nicola LGBTQ History Fellowship, to honor community leader and historian George T. Nicola. At this point, the Fellowship will be awarded to one college student per year to create a project centering around Oregon LGBTQ+ history, ensuring that our commitment to LGBTQ+ history and its impact on our futures are acknowledged, seen, and never forgotten.
Finally, Pride Northwest continues to work with our partners, in both the public and private sectors, to ensure that LGBTQ+ voices are heard and honored. As we know, even now-well into the 21st century-there is much work to be done and much educating to do. For many agencies, organizations, and businesses Pride is their first, and often most, significant experience in supporting and engaging the LGBTQ+ community. We actively support LGBTQ+ employees and community members, in their efforts to build equitable work environments and services for all. As a highly visible Pride organization, we take our responsibilities seriously, and consistently seek out opportunities to use our spotlight and access to initiate dialogue, seek honor and integrity from our partners, and work toward a more equitable and just environment for all.
We at Pride Northwest are excited for the future of Pride and of our community, and are well into planning for 2019! We’re looking forward to developing our vision further; creating a Portland Pride festival and organization that we can all be proud of. We were proud to bring Pride to Portland all year long in 2018 and we look forward growing our goals and engagement with y’all in 2019!