Read all of our Queer Week 2020 content here.

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Bobby Roberts & Progress

To Our Beloved (And Very Queer) Mercury Readers,

Ever since the Mercury launched as an alternative weekly 20 years ago, we’ve put out an annual Pride-themed issue.

But this year, our Pride coverage is going to look a little different. There are a few reasons for this.

First: In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Big corporate Pride festivals are on hiatus, queer spaces are moving onto digital platforms, and the LGBTQ+ community is uniquely affected by this health crisis. That will be reflected in our Pride content, which will include a deep-dive into how the COVID-19 pandemic is reminiscent of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a Pride-themed calendar with mostly online events, and a roundup of local drag queens who have started streaming their performances.

In a related development, the Mercury recently halted our print publication and laid-off over half our staff because of lost ad revenue from restaurants, bars, and venues affected by stay-at-home restrictions. In fact, the only reason we're still in existence at all is the generosity of readers like you.

That means we won’t have a physical Queer Issue this year. It also means we won’t benefit from the remarkable talents of former Art Director Kathleen Marie. Portland streets are a little less interesting these days without her dynamic, radically forward-thinking Mercury covers.

Our 2019 Queer Issue front cover.
Our 2019 Queer Issue front cover.

In lieu of the Queer Issue, we’ll have Queer Week on our website, and will be rolling out a couple Pride-themed articles each day between today and Friday, June 19. That happens to be Juneteenth, when Black Americans celebrate the emancipation of slaves in the 1860s—which brings me to my next point.

We’re seeing a mass uprising in our city and across the country right now. The racism woven into the fabric of our society, which manifests itself in the senseless police killings of innocent Black people, seems to have finally reached some sort of tipping point, and real change feels within our grasp.

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This Pride month in particular, it’s important to remember that the Stonewall uprising was a protest against police brutality, and that queer and trans LGBTQ+ people started the queer rights movement. During our Queer Week, we’ll hear stories from queer Black Portlanders who are following in the legacy of people like Marsha P. Johnson and fighting for a more just world for everyone. We’ll also highlight opportunities for my fellow white queers (and you straight people, too) to educate ourselves and stand in solidarity with Portlanders who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

In the words of Johnson herself: “As long as my people don’t have their rights across America, there’s no reason for celebration.” So while we may not have much to celebrate this Pride month, there’s still plenty to do.

With love,

Blair Stenvick
Mercury news reporter