Portland’s annual Pride celebration was hastily moved online last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a statewide ban on large gatherings. This year, even though outdoor gatherings have been sanctioned once again, the Pride parade, and most accompanying events, will be virtual.

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“We knew really quickly after Pride 2020, which was all virtual, that 2021 still wasn’t going to be back to what we think of as normal. We had too many conversations with health officials, the state, the county, and we just knew that it wasn’t going to be all good,” says Debra Porta, Executive Director of Pride Northwest. “So, right from the beginning, we began making plans for what we knew we could make happen no matter what the conditions might be.”

One of the issues is that planning big events takes time and city approval, and it was impossible to predict months ago what the future would hold. But Debra Porta says she doesn’t regret the virtual events.

“The LGBTQ Plus community is more vulnerable in lots of ways and we have really no interest in creating an environment that would do one of two things: either put our people at risk unnecessarily or exclude folks who are more vulnerable in our community from being able to participate.”

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A man affixes a giant rainbow flag to the front of a building in Portland's Old Town/China Town neighborhood.

A man affixes a giant rainbow flag to the front of a building in Portland's Old Town/China Town neighborhood during the 2017 Pride Parade.

Bryan M. Vance / OPB

This year’s Portland Pride parade was filmed last week at the Portland International Raceway. It will be broadcast on June 20th on the Pride Northwest YouTube channel, as well as at a community zoom watch party. Porta says even though the recorded parade couldn’t capture the energy of a march through downtown, it was still very joyous.”

“There wasn’t lots of hugging and that sort of thing, which would normally be happening Pride, but we still had that feeling of, there’s my people. There you are. Here we are.”

Meanwhile, the Eastern Oregon city of Pendleton will have its first Pride Parade. Last year, Aiden Bork, a Pendleton High School student, helped to organize a Pride “walk” that took place on the sidewalks. This year the parade will march down the streets and feature speakers and floats. Bork has been planning the event for nearly a year and is excited to be able to participate as well.

“Me and Noah, who is the other founder and the other main organizer are both going to be participating with the floats,” says Bork. “We have other people who have fully been willing to take all the responsibility off our hands-on that day and they fully volunteered and so we got everything set up for the day and then they take the reins from there so that we can have fun.”

The Pendleton parade takes place on Saturday, June 12th, and has numerous COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

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