The Portland Democratic Socialists of America's Queer Caucus yesterday released a statement against Pride NW, the group that puts on the city's Pride parade.
The group urged Pride NW to sever ties with it corporate sponsors and the Portland Police, saying that corporations and cops are exploitative presences at the parade, which was originally "a protest led by trans women of color against the police."
"Pride celebrations today, which are promoted by multi-billion dollar corporations and which use queer bodies as a new, profitable marketing tactic, look very different from the original Pride protests," the statement read. "We used to revolt against the norms; now we celebrate conforming to them."
The caucus alleged that six sponsors received incomplete scores on the Human Right Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, which analyzes large company's policies and practices pertinent to LGBTQ employees. It also highlighted that only a third of the event's sponsors are based in Oregon and only three of the 39 are LGBTQ-focused.
"Similarly, three of your sponsors are from the drug industry which, like the tobacco industry, preys on marginalized populations," the group wrote. "As queer people, we are a diverse group, and yet we are truly not represented by these corporations."
The group specifically criticized a high-profile sponsor, Seattle-based retail giant Amazon, for allegedly "exploit[ing] the labor of queer people making poverty wages and fail[ing] to protect those queer people from on-the-job harassment."
In HRC's Index, Amazon ranked number 12 out of 20 Fortune 500 companies.
The statement, from a leftist group growing in influence in Portland politics, reflects larger national friction on the left about the intersection of economic justice, gender and racial diversity.
The Queer Caucus also condemned police presence at the parade and said that the police bureau is "notorious for targeting the most marginalized in our community."
"We believe the solution to our queerphobic culture is not greater inclusion in systemic exploitation," read the statement, "but a radical departure from a system that perpetuates inequality and turns queer people into a market to be exploited."
This is not the first time Portland police presence at Pride has led to tensions. In 2017, Pride NW sent a letter asking law-enforcement officers not to march at the Pride parade in uniform. The request was not well received.
Stephen Yakots, a PPB spokesperson says, "The Portland Police Bureau will be providing officers to help facilitate another safe and successful event. Officers and professional staff are also excited to march in this year's parade to show support for all LGBTQI community members."
Pride NW and Amazon did not immediately respond to WW's request for comment.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Amazon was one of the companies to receive an incomplete score on the HRC Equality Index.