Portland’s Pride Parade is digital for the second year in a row, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. After all, the queer community has deep ties to technological innovation, whether it’s Wendy Carlos’ work on the Moog synthesizer to Darcelle XV’s foray into 360 video.
Who will lead this year’s parade as the digital grand marshal? We won’t know until June 20, when Pride Northwest posts a two-week-old parade recording to their YouTube channel after a Zoom launch party. But with a wide imagination and budget to match, we can imagine who we want.
Untitled Goose Game’s titular fowl has the strongest hometown claim to Portland’s virtual Pride, given that the 2019 breakout video game was published by a local company. The goose is also the most fearsome of all the candidates on this list, eschewing all established gender norms and committed only to the pure ecstasy of mayhem and upending civilized society. The goose sees people enjoying themselves at Pride, and the goose must become the center of attention at all costs. All hail Untitled Goose.
The Resident Evil girlboss is a glamorous, hardworking single mother only a few feet taller than our own drag giant, Miss Inanna. She might not be perfect—we presume that “lady” means “landlord”—but the gays have a long history of adopting beautiful ghouls. Plus, getting overhyped and underutilized is a major queer experience, is it not? In the community with Tom of Finland gays and “bottoms and tops all hate cops” queers, Lady Dimitrescu reigns supreme as Portland Pride’s problematic fave.
The Horizon Zero Dawn protagonist’s sexuality is ambiguous, but she’s been embraced by the queer community, she’s used to West Coast hellscapes, she’s voiced by LGBTQ+ ally Ashly Burch—who’s voiced several other queer video game characters—and she just weathered ridiculous criticism over whether she looks “feminine enough,” a type of harassment too familiar for many trans and cisgender people. We’re not here to gatekeep Aloy’s identity and features. We’re here to celebrate achievements in the field of pissing off bigots. Hopefully, in a historic crossover feat, Aloy shares her platform with the queer survivors from The Last of Us, who really just deserve something nice after surviving their own airborne pathogen horror.
Digitally Added Tig Notaro
Tig Notaro isn’t the first person to digitally replace a scummy creep at the last second, but her addition to Zack Snyder’s zombie epic Army of the Dead (taking the place of accused predator Chris D’Elia) was still groundbreaking. She proved queer people can be reliable members of action ensembles while remaining true to ourselves. Also, Notaro’s casting absolutely ended Caitlyn Jenner’s reign over LGBTQ+ helicopter enthusiasts.
Lil Nas X
He might be a real person, but pop’s reigning meme king is an obvious choice to lead virtual Pride in America’s strip club capital. Squadrons of Portland’s exotic dancers could follow the “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” singer through his eponymous VR fantasyland. Taco Bell could host cyber queer clubs to promote his new single, “Sun Goes Down,” and celebrate its drive-thru’s status as the hottest nightlife spot of the past 18 months. Some high-profile City Hall employees could hand over the keys to their social media handles for a legendary takeover. The possibilities are as vast as Lil Nas X’s imagination.
Sure, the cicadas of Brood X are “not even from here,” as my boyfriend likes to remind me, but we, as gay people, get to choose the inhuman swarms personifying our innermost hearts. Brood X is shrieking, starving, fucking in public, freaking out straight people, and are so chaotic they’ve been blamed for at least one car crash and disrupting Air Force One’s mechanics. That’s gay rights as hell. And while they’re apparently pronounced “Brood X,” I know Brood X are really saying “Stream Allie X!” with their dying breaths, like the true stans they are.
STREAM: The Second Annual Digital Pride Parade streams 11 am Sunday, June 20. See portlandpride.org for streaming information. Free. All ages.