PORTLAND, Ore. — Pride filled the streets of downtown Portland on Sunday, with people celebrating the LGBTQ+ community with cheers, support, and a whole lot of sparkle.
However, one of the parade’s youngest marchers almost did not make it when online backlash to a drag performance had their family fearing for their safety.
"Being a drag mom is a lot like being a soccer mom. There's just a lot more glitter involved," Michelle Porter said.
Michelle is the proud mother of Sparkle, a 10-year-old budding drag queen who has been performing for about two years.
"When they were a baby we called them our sparkly boy. They just were born fabulous," Porter said.
Sparkle, who uses the pronouns they/them, had received a lot of support online, but after an all-ages drag show performance, both Michelle and Sparkle started to receive backlash, including what Porter called hateful and homophobic comments online.
Porter said she has received threats and has lost sleep over the negative attention her family has received online in the past week.
"It said horrific, homophobic things. They accused everybody, including myself, of being pedophiles," Porter said. "[We] really want to come to Pride; our kids expect it. This is something that's really important to our family, but I am scared."
When news spread that Sparkle might miss Pride because of the backlash, Portland's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stepped in to help.
"It broke my heart," Sister Ohna F. Tirade said. "Sparkle has been inspiring me for more than a year, since I saw them provide in Pride last year."
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a global charitable organization that is dedicated to the support, education, and development of the LGBTQ community. On Sunday, they dedicated that support to Sparkle.
"To offer a safe space for anyone in our community to come and be loved and be protected and be taken care of. That is our ultimate mission," Tirade said.
Porter told KGW that what the sisters provided the family was much more than just protection on parade day.
"It's beautiful. There's been a lot of ugliness this week and the beauty and the love that's come from this community outweighs it a million times," Porter said.
Thanks to the sisters and the Portland community, Sparkle paraded though the streets of downtown, unwilling to let anyone dull their shine.
"I'm just doing what any mom would do," Porter said. "I have a kid who is passionate about something. I'm encouraging them and loving them and I'm showing up for them."
The support didn’t end with the sisters. Porter told KGW that Radio Cab offered Sparkle and their entire family free rides throughout Pride weekend to ensure they got to and from events safely.