Pride is famously a season of love, but it should also be a season of peace.
The LGBTQ+ community rarely feels at peace, even within the world’s most welcoming cities. If we aren’t surviving religious or legislative bigotry—or the real world physical violence inspired by them—we are surviving the wars in our minds.
We have been, and still are, kept from expressing ourselves as we as really are. We rarely get socialized with other openly queer people during formative years. We’re not typically taught our places among the greatest in history, art, science and sports. We rarely bother anyone but are attacked and ostracized for showing people around us that there’s a different way to exist from what’s always been accepted.
That conflict feels especially intense this year, as states from Florida to Idaho try to outlaw our health care, our education and our artwork. The aspects of Pride that until recently felt corny—the rainbow beer cans and corporate floats—are now targets for bigots. Every drag queen story hour risks protesters or worse. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that it’s free speech for shopkeepers to refuse us service.
We hope Portland and the rest of the Pacific Northwest remain strongholds for civil rights. But how do the people fighting hardest for queer peace find it for themselves?
Willamette Week looked for signs of hope in the struggle. We interviewed families who moved Oregon to escape homophobic and transphobic laws across the country. We spoke to Catholic parents defying the Archdiocese of Portland, which is trying to prevent their teachers from using students’ chosen pronouns. We met with the prioress of the local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence house about how they boost morale, and with the new director of Cascades AIDS Project, who talked about how two-spirit people long predate Christianity in this state. And we found the best places to unwind and let loose during Pride weekend.
Better times are still ahead. It might seem hard to believe when you watch videos of violent fights at parent-teacher association meetings in California or Nazi sightings at Pride in rural Washington. But these misguided people and their kind of hate have existed since before the late and great Darcelle. More people love us than don’t, even if they don’t always use the best words and actions to express it.
The LGBTQ+ community has long known that the best response to pressure is unity. The peace, love and sense of belonging we create for ourselves and one another travels beyond our social bubbles. All kinds of people can feel it.
Things might be the wrong kind of weird for a while. Lean into it. May you find peace with yourself, and support among those around you. —Andrew Jankowski