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Greater NW Pride: Pride Parades and Your Church


Pride Parades and Your Church

This last weekend I was blessed and happy to be working with the great folks at First United Methodist Church, Ashland. On Sunday morning, as I was entering the church to preach, I spied a beautiful, big rainbow flag fluttering in the breeze attached to their front sign! The flag reminded me that the time is coming up for LGBTQ+ Pride Parades, often held in June, which is LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the USA.  And if you and your individual United Methodist Church want to show your support of the LGBTQ+ community, in a LGBTQ+ event and context, this would be a great time and place to do so!
LGBTQ+ Pride Parades began with a riot. At 1:30 am on June 28, 1969—50 years ago—New York City police stormed the Stonewall Inn, a bar operating without a liquor license on 51-53 Christopher Street. It was a bar that welcomed the poorest and most marginalized people in the LGBTQ+ community: drag queens, those people who are transgender, those who consider themselves or are considered more butch-like lesbians and "effeminate" young gay men, sex workers, and homeless LGBTQ+  youth. In other words, our heroes in the LGBTQ+ movement. The Inn didn’t have a license because the authorities did not give out licenses to places that served LGBTQ+ customers. Even though the police were paid off to ignore these bars at their discretion, this time, they stormed the Inn, forcing customers to wait outside the Inn, handcuffed, which drew a crowd. One person in handcuffs was hit in the head by a police officer. She asked the crowd to do something, so they threw pennies and other objects at the police. A barricade was set up in front of the Inn, which was set on fire. Then a call went out, calling in the fire department to put out the flames. Over the next six days, demonstrations continued outside the bar, with thousands showing their support of and for the LGBTQ+ community. A movement was born!
Five months after the riots, a group of activists, led by Craig Rodwell and his partner Fred Sargeant, met in Philadelphia, and decided that a march should be held on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Brenda Howard, a bisexual grassroots activist, who lived in the NY C area, organized the details for the first NYC Pride Parade, which was then known as the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. L. Craig Schoonmaker, who was part of the planning committee, chose the official chant for the march, “Say it loud, gay is proud!” which, in 1970, was unheard of at the time. https://www.history.com/news/how-activists-plotted-the-first-gay-pride-parades
On June 28, 1970, the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, there was a march in NYC! It was over 50 blocks long, from west of Sixth Ave., in Greenwich Village, all the way to Sheep’s Meadow in Central Park, where activists held a “Gay-in.” It was both was a protest and a celebration, which it still is, even in today. Needless to say, not only as the NYC Pride Parade grown in size and numbers, but all around the world there are LGBTQ+ Pride Parades and Events.
Dear Reader: if you would like to show where you, your family, your friends, your UMC church happens to “stand” or rise on the issue of pro-LGBTQ+ issues in this world, in this country, in your state, in your city, in your suburb, in your village or town, in your denomination (UMC), your church, calling out for full integration of LGBTQ+ people in all the spheres and systems and webs of relationships of and in your life, consider joining up and marching with a Pride Parade near you, or being along the parade route, with a sign of support, rainbow t-shirt on and rain-bow flag in hand, cheering the marchers.  Some years, I, along with other clergy, have provided Holy Communion as a witness of our faith, providing the bread and the cup of love to all who wish to commune with us. After all, Jesus would welcome LGBTQ+ people, and we, who are members of the body of Christ, are just passing on the love. After all, as Pastor Paul reminds us, in the body of Christ there is neither “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female,” or LGBTQ+ nor straight, “for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).
So, here is the list of the Pride Parades and Festivals (many are weekend-long events) that I could find in some of the cities, towns, villages and suburbs in the OR-ID Conference area, by city and town. For more information, simply Google your city, town, or village. 
Ashland: Southern Oregon Pride is weekend of Oct. 11-12th
Astoria: June 7, 2019
Beaverton: June 23, 2019 (first one!)
Bend: Central Oregon Pride June 22, 2019
Boise: June 14 and 15, 2019
Eugene: August 10, 2019
Hood River: Columbia Gorge Pride Parade is June 28-30, 2019
Idaho Falls, ID: June 29, 2019
Pocatello: Pride Week BBQ, June 17, 2019 in Caldwell Park!
Portland: June 16, 2019 (Community of Welcoming Congregations and First UMC will gladly welcome you and your church! Contact me for info!).
Salem: Capitol Pride is in August (date TBD)

In the Pacific Northwest Conference:

Bellingham: July 15, 2019

Couer d'Alene: June 1, 2019

Seattle: June 30, 2019

Spokane: June 8, 2019

Yakima: June 8, 2019

Tacoma: July 13, 2019

Vancouver: July 13, 2019

And if you don’t see your city, town, village, or suburb listed above, please feel free to start a Pride Event in your area, which may lead to a parade. It begins with a picnic, a BBQ, a breakfast in your UMC church, honoring and recognizing the obvious place and necessary presence of LGBTQ+ people in the body of Christ!
And have a fab time in the Pride Parades! Wear your UMC t-shirts and wear a rainbow sash or belt or carry a rainbow flag, and have a ball, for this is a celebration of life and love!

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!