There’s been some talk about different aspects of Portland Oregon’s Gay Pride. Some folks were amazed by the sheer number of faith based organizations in the parade. Others were impressed by the level of corporate sponsorship. Other folks may have been overwhelmed by the sheer joy of witnessing the warmth and love of a community during this celebration.
Yet there are those who recall what Gay Pride celebrates every year. It is the Gay equivalent to the 4th of July or possibly Cinco de Mayo. Pride started all those many years ago to commemorate what many consider the start of the Gay Rights movement. The place where it all happened is a small tavern in New York City called Stonewall. The bar is still in existence and is an historical landmark.
Something else may possibly be noteworthy.
That is the fact that approximately every two minutes during the waterfront festival at Portlan Gay Pride, an already registered Democrat signed up to be a member of the Democratic Party of Oregon Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. Approximately every six minutes someone signed up to volunteer for the Jeff Merkley
Campaign. Also, someone registered to vote every 12 minutes!
Then consider the number of people who lined the streets and all of those who participated in the parade. Please close your eyes for a moment and remember all the people. Yes there were some rather over the top folks in the parade, but the underlying and truly overwhelming tidbit of trivia is that only a tiny handful vote republican. Yes that’s correct all those people, at any Gay Pride celebration in the nation, are overwhelmingly Democratic voters.
You might think, well duh. Who else would this community vote for in an election? But at times that same perception leads to a sort of sentiment that the Gay vote is taken for granted. Make no mistake it is a large and loyal block of organized Democratic voters.
Another interesting political fact is that a large portion of the Gay community supported Senator Clinton’s campaign. That in no way is meant to underplay the also huge number of folks who supported Senator Obama. Both sides of the coin campaigned ferociously in the primary for their respective candidates. All of which, one would incline to think, would lend itself to a bitter divide and reluctance to unify behind Senator Obama. You know the kind of thing that is still being whipped about by the media.
While some folks were amazed at the number of faith based organizations and churches or the level of corporate participation and support, I had a different impression.
This was not my first Pride event. Last year I traveled around the state to most of the Pride events. From Southern Oregon, to the Willamette Valley, and eastern Oregon where the DPO GLBT Caucus had sponsored a democratic booth. We signed up a lot of people as members of the caucus. I was a part of Senator Clinton’s National LGBT Steering Committee and also here in Oregon. I’m going to Denver as a Clinton Delegate.
So here is what truly impressed me about this Pride. A lot of people I had conversations with this year expressed their sadness and disappointment about Hillary Clinton not being the nominee. Some hoped that she would run as Vice President. I was totally prepared for that sentiment to be expressed.
What amazed me was the willingness of all those people I talked with who expressed their support for Senator Obama. There was simply no question in their minds. Of course there may still be some who felt differently and I didn’t get a chance to talk to them. But our booth could not keep up with the demand for buttons, bumper stickers and yard signs for Senator Obama. Several people actually told me they are going to put their Obama bumper sticker alongside their Clinton sticker to specifically signal their willingness to others to unite behind Senator Obama.
The other thing that left an impression on me was the fantastic support expressed for Jeff Merkley.
A lot of folks wanted to take yard signs to hand out to their neighbors and friends.
So maybe I’m just a little bit shaded by the fact that I was at the booth the entire time and maybe I was preaching to the choir?
I don’t think that was totally the case as the last and most important impression about Gay Pride was the fact that while civil rights and equality are right at the top of the priorities for most of these folks, inevitably they talked about their deep concerns regarding healthcare, the economy, education, public safety, the war, and the abuses of the constitution.
They talked about the need for Change!