Portland has long celebrated its Pride festival in late June—frequently overlapping with Father’s Day to the delight and / or consternation of many daddy lovers. According to Oregonian archives, the tradition goes at least as far back as the first city-recognized Gay Pride Day, on June 25, 1977. (And a Gay Pride Fair in the South Park Blocks on June 28, 1975!)
Pride Northwest announced Tuesday that it’s ready for a change. In 2023, Portland’s Pride Parade and waterfront celebration will be held on July 15-16, a whole month later than usual.
As the nonprofit that plans Portland's Pride Parade and accompanying festivities, Pride Northwest has considered changing the date of the annual event for years and for a variety of reasons, “including ongoing overlaps with other significant cultural events (Juneteenth, the Delta Park Pow Wow, etc.)," the organization explained in a Tuesday press release.
“At the end of the day, none of us really have the opportunity to support each other's celebrations in truly meaningful ways or proactively build toward an environment that empowers LGBTQIA2S+ people to express themselves without the perception that they are being asked to choose between the various parts of themselves,” said Pride Northwest’s Executive Director Debra Porta.
The decision received enthusiastic approval from LGBTQIA2S+ rights nonprofit Basic Rights Oregon. "Our liberation doesn’t happen in a vacuum and our intersectional communities deserve as much, if not more, space to thrive,” the organization's Interim Deputy Director Margot Matin told the Mercury.
We also reached out to prominent drag performer Kevin Cook AKA Poison Waters—who we knew had a schedule already stretching out to November 2023— to ask if the notice might impact Cook's livelihood.
“I’m thrilled for lots of reasons,” Cook said. "I’m so wildly booked, this opens three more days in June.”
June will still be Pride month on a national and international level, so Cook viewed the change as "fun extended" and "a chance to kick up our heels again in July."
Cook supported Pride Northwest's reasoning about the conflicting events in June, saying that while it might be sadly commonplace for queer people to feel estranged from their families, there were also many who actually wanted to spend Father’s Day at brunch with their parents. The frequent overlap created conflict. “Which is the opposite of what we want,” Cook said. “We want a celebration that brings everyone together.”
Adding some perspective as a performer and as someone who has been a part of Portland Pride since 1988, Cook advised: "The way [Portland's festival] was situated—right after the Rose Festival—Waterfront Park was just a mud ball. That always just made me so 'ugh.' The show always goes on, but having Pride during a torrential downpour was never ideal."