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Portland Pride Parade and Waterfront Festival return in person

LGBTQ+ Pride festivities are back in person this year for the first time since the pandemic.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Pride is back in Portland in a big way as in-person events celebrating the LGBTQ+ community return for the the first time since the pandemic. 

From concerts and performances to the iconic parade and waterfront festival, there are many ways to celebrate Pride this year.

All month long, you can find a fun and inclusive way to celebrate Pride at just about every corner of Rose City. A big one happening this weekend: Pride Northwest's Pride Parade and Waterfront Festival.

“There’s nothing that beats the power of the feeling of all of us being able to be in person,” said Debra Porta, executive director of Pride Northwest. 

The festival is happening Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

“It’s larger than it’s ever been. We have a whole brand new section,” Porta said.

RELATED: Here are the Pride Month events happening around Portland

New this year, there will be an art installation that highlights the artwork of the unhoused community.

“There’s going to be a big mural and they will be on-site selling their creations,” Porta said. “So it’s a combination of honoring and bringing visibility to their experience as well as creating an economic opportunity.”

The return of the Portland Pride Parade will be on Sunday, starting at 11 a.m. at the North Park Blocks downtown. "It’s going to be a lot of people,” Porta said.

The route is a little different this year. The parade will travel east down Couch Street from Eight Avenue before turning south on Naito toward the festival at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

“The route is a little bit different so that we can include the 'Never Look Away' mural that we unveiled last August,” Porta said.

This year’s Pride festival also overlaps with Juneteenth, which Pride Northwest will honor during its events.

“That’s very much been a focus around planning for our main stage, our social media communication, who we’re partnering with, how we’re choosing and lifting up our food vendors – all of these different components,” Porta said.

“Intersectionality. It is gay Pride, but it is also Juneteenth and those can intersect,” Portland drag queen Flawless Shade said. “Personally, with me, I am a gay, black drag queen.”

Flawless Shade is headlining the Pride Takeover Drag Brunch at 10 Barrel Brewing in Portland's Pearl District on Sunday. She’ll be joined by some of the top Black drag queens in Portland.

“There’s not a lot of spaces for — especially to be an all-Black, excellent cast and to highlight that,” Shade said. “Sometimes we’re kind of just chosen, just a few of us, kind of tokenized. But it’s nice when it’s about the talent, showing what we have to give.”

Katherine Morgan is the lead hostess at the 10 Barrell's downtown location.   

“We really wanted to highlight the Black community, especially in Portland, especially in the drag community as well," she said. “It’s just a big party where everyone can see them and it’s just a giant performance.”

RELATED: Yes, Pride Month began as a protest against police brutality

Saturday night, you take in the music at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, where the Portland Gay Men's Chorus will present "Let’s Get Proud," featuring pop tunes about self-love, reflection and celebration.

“It’s such a lift for all of us to be together to make this music together,” said Gregory Pang, who sings bass with the chorus. 

The pandemic made rehearsing and performing difficult for the group, but they persisted and are now back to performing together in person.

“To have harmony that we can hear, it’s just amazing. It’s magical. So, I hope everybody comes,” Pang said.

No matter where you go or how you celebrate, there is a way to honor the LGBTQ+ community while also recognizing that there is still work to be done.

"Portland Pride gives us a sense of belonging. It gives us a sense of community, and I think everybody wants that,” Pang said. “We belong here. We are safe here. We can express ourselves here and Portland gives us a sense of that safety — that sense of belonging, that sense of community that we all are looking for.”

“It’s important that we’re visible, that we stay strong that we stay safe, that we’re not hiding. We are out, we are proud – that’s what Pride is about,” Shade said. “It started as a protest and it continues to be a protest to show what we’re about and who we are. We’re human beings that just want love and equality and just want to show our talents, our artistry to the world.”

“Pride isn’t just a weekend. It’s not just an event," said Porta. "It was always intended to be the beginning, not the end."

For information on more Pride events happening through June, visit portlandpride.org.

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