As last weekend's tragedy reminded us, there's a reason LGBTQ events, vogue and whaack nights are mostly underground. And it's not that they're elitist.
"Everyone jokes about 'safe spaces' being this hypersensitive concept," says Marquise Dickerson, a dancer known as Coco Black for local R&B band Chanti Darling, "but that comes from a time when we needed a place where we knew we wouldn't get beat up."
Related: Chanti Darling wins Best New Band.
But this week, perhaps more than ever, straight allies want to be part of the scene to show their support. That requires a delicate negotiation, says Pantyraid host Katey Hollenbeck, aka Vera Rubin. "Like a photograph, there's a level of exposure that looks just right. Once it's been overexposed, it looks terrible."
What should heterosexual partygoers do during Pride? Don't ruin the party. True allies have respect for the difficult history that brought us to this point. Here's what to do and not do.
Do act like a guest.
Blaine Provancha, host of Frisky Whisker:
"I love to be inclusive, but know that this space was created for gay people to get together. With recent events, our community is fragile. Come in, shake our hand, buy someone a drink, even if you don't want to sleep with them. Be human."
Marquise Dickerson: "Don't forget that we are running the show. You are at our dinner table and high faggotry is on the menu."
Provancha: "I should be able to walk up to a bar and not worry about someone having a negative response to my orientation, or body-shame me. This isn't your safe haven, it's ours."
Don't flaunt your straightness.
Dickerson: "The bachelorette parties used to sting, especially before gay marriage was passed. Like, 'Girl, good for you, bye.' Now it's just tacky, in my opinion."
Katey Hollenbeck: "Wallflowers are OK, though. If you can't dance, that's OK. We are freak positive and creep negative."
Do get a little dressy.
Hollenbeck: "I don't want to see untucked shirts and baggy jeans. I want beauty, drama, elegance…my space is not the Lucky Lab. Get weird and get vulnerable, that's what the night is for. Just remember that we're making art, not Halloween costumes. Disco does not equal a leisure suit."
Dickerson: "It's about escapism. Being somebody—something—else for a night. When you go to a show or want to go dance, you can't fully escape without everyone being on the same page."
Don't take photos without permission.
Hollenbeck: "My Pantyraid parties took place at the Belmont Bodega, a little grocery store. When some guy from Vice showed up, I threw him out. He was stealing our art to make money off of pictures of this event while we are struggling to pay power bills. It's vulturing."
Do say nice things.
Hollenbeck: "Give good compliments that are not based in sexualizing people. Do not make comments on people's bodies."
Dickerson: "If a queen, king, weird thing is performing, do not interrupt them. You have no idea how much goes into getting up on that stage. Let them have their shine."
Brandon Harrison, aka Hydrangea Strangea: "Oh, my God, the butt grabbing! Not OK. People don't know what it takes to put our looks together and construct our outfits. Drunk girls should not be reaching up to touch people's makeup."
Dickerson: "Don't touch people without permission. I think straight people think this is an 'anything goes' type of place, when common sense still very much applies."
Do leave if you're not comfortable.
Provancha: "It's about knowing when you're not in the right space, and when you've overstayed your welcome. If you aren't comfortable, go to one of the other 19 parties aimed toward straight people going on that night. We have this one."
see it: The Portland Pride Festival is at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Saturday and Sunday, June 18-19. The Pride Parade is at 11 am Sunday, June 19. Full calendar at pridenw.org/events.