OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — Organizers for the first-ever Oregon City Pride Night made some changes ahead of the event to try and mitigate pushback from various groups, but the event kicked off as scheduled at 4 p.m. Saturday.
City leaders, like Mayor Denyse McGriff, also showed their support.
“It feels really great. It’s about the same feeling I had four years ago when we had the first Juneteenth event here in Oregon City,” McGriff said. “So I’m just glad to see the community coming out and celebrating each other and having a really positive environment today.”
Primarily sponsored by Cascade Counseling and Consulting, the event featured vendors, music, drag story time and other events once it began at the Good Burger Shack and Archbridge Taphouse.
A portion of the proceeds and donations went to The Living Room, a non-profit supporting queer and trans youth in Clackamas County.
“It’s so important to have events like this and to highlight organizations that do things like what we do with LGBTQ+ young folks in particular,” said Bee Degraw with The Living Room. “There’s a lot of things happening in Oregon, and across the country, and across the world that cause a lot of anxiety, and I think it’s really important now more than ever to celebrate queer joy as much as we can.”
Additional money raised is slated to go to the Oregon City Children’s Theatre, which said about one-third of the kids who participate are LGBTQ+.
Organizer Wesley Hanson appeared in drag as Mizz Ecstacy Inferno.
“I was beaten, I was thrown in lockers, I had my head shoved in toilets all because of who I was. And I wanted no kid in this city to ever go through what I had to go through,” the performer/organizer told KOIN 6 News. “In the end, we always prevail because love will always win.”
Not everyone was thrilled about the event. Beyond the pushback on social media, a group of self-identified Proud Boys held a protest just blocks from the main event. They clashed with counter-protesters, which resulted in the arrest of 2 people for disorderly conduct.
But Pride-goers at the event said their presence didn’t rain on their parade.
“I feel like there are some voices that are very loud but they’re very few,” attendee Nicole Ausmus said. “And I want to remind everybody who feels like maybe they can’t come out, maybe they can’t be who they are — there are many, many more people out here to support you than there are people who hate you.”
While the event had to delay and relocate the Pride Vendor Market and drag show due to parking and security concerns, organizers said the overwhelming support and turn out also played a role in needing a larger venue.
“Everyone said Oregon City was not ready and didn’t want a Pride. And I’m here to prove that is absolutely wrong,” Mizz Ecstacy Inferno said. “Because if you look in there right now, you can see all the love, the support and everything. And for all the hate that was thrown at us. I would say the love, as you can tell, is about 400% more than anything that was given to us from the hate side.”