PORTLAND QUEERS are pretty bored, and more or less broke. At least, if the excessively polite Portland Pride parade on Sunday, June 14, was any indication of the state of Portland's LGBT community.
Cute puppies wore rainbow tutus while pleasant parading queers flung fistfuls of candy into the crowd, clearly in violation of oppressive parade rules. Portland Mayor Sam Adams even biked down Broadway with a burst of glittery tinsel spilling out of his shirt pocket! Who knew homosexuals could be so dull?
One couple's pre-parade anticipation had been thick with visions of preening drag queens and spangled jockstrap-bedecked muscle boys. "Gay parades are just the best, aren't they?" enthused a 47-year-old man, who identified himself only as Gordon. Leaning up against the Benson Hotel just before the parade began with his wife, Colleen, the couple nodded their heads in vigorous agreement, adding, "They just seem more fun." Also: "lively and interesting," Colleen piped up. "More fun!"
Colleen and Gordon! Queer Portland may have let you down. While the interminably long queer parade—the Mercury fled at the two-and-a-half-hour mark—did provide fleeting moments of whimsy and outrage (the Rocky Horror Picture Show kids from the Clinton Street Theater camping it up, and the moving entry ranting on the discriminatory "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy), where was the glitter fabulosity or out-and-out fun that, well, people kind of expect from the gays?
You never would have guessed this whole parade was put on to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a breakthrough in the gay rights movement. Or that it happened in the midst of major setbacks to the movement, like the upholding of California's Proposition 8 and, as recently as last week, a damning legal brief from President Barack Obama's Department of Justice, potentially supportive of the Defense of Marriage Act.
No room for politics at this parade! But there was plenty of room for politicians, as every Portland city commissioner minus Randy Leonard showed (Leonard's staff had not explained his absence to the Mercury by press time). Congressman Earl Blumenauer again broke parade rules by tossing "Bike-Curious" pins into the crowd, and Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian also did respectable duty on the parade route.
The most interesting parade character by far was planted just off the path, outside the Union Bank of California building. Dressed head-to-toe in screaming rainbow colors, the "Fairy Dyke Mother," 29-year-old Erin Ridle, greeted guests with the tap of a magic wand and the promise of "a sprinkle of fairy dyke-y fun."
If only she'd waved her magic wand before the parade began.