Dampened by the ongoing pandemic, this year’s Pride celebrations were mostly held virtually or in a limited capacity. A lot of parades were flat out canceled with some cities opting to postpone celebration altogether until fall. In Portland, the parade was pre-recorded and presented as a community viewing event online.
And though a lot of thoughtful planning went into holding safer pandemic versions of customary Pride events, let’s be honest, it just wasn’t the same. Oregonians also missed out on a lot of dancing.
Daniel Giron is a familiar face in Portland’s ballroom scene; he’s a vogue dance instructor and founder of the House of Ada. Giron continues in the rich ballroom culture tradition, a subculture created by primarily young Black and Latinx gay and trans people living in New York City, originating sometime in the 1960s.
Oregon Art Beat producer Eric Slade spoke to Giron last year about his connection with the scene and the history of voguing. If you missed out on seeing the balls this year, the video above could offer a small salve. And if you wanted to dig in a little deeper into the history of ballroom culture, the documentary “Paris is Burning” is a must see.
Before there was voguing, there were good old fashioned drag balls — it’s where it all started. And Oregon has the honor of claiming not only the oldest performing drag queen, but also the longest running drag revue in the nation.
Darcelle XV, the drag alter ego of Walter Cole, has been entertaining fans for nearly 55 years in her namesake club, Darcelle XV Showplace. Last year, the brick and mortar Darcelle XV was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
With her blond bouffant wig and signature eye makeup, Darcelle remains one of the most recognizable figures in the Portland Pride parade. If you didn’t get the opportunity to see the Portland icon wave her way through a jam packed parade, the documentary above will give you more than an introduction to her legacy.
And for history buffs wanting even more, here’s a story from Crystal Ligori and Tiffany Camhi on the state’s first college course focused solely on the history, craft and politics of the Portland drag scene.
And of course not all of our LGBTQ+ community members dance or sing, some of them also climb mountains — this is Oregon after all. Oregon Field Guide’s Ian McClusky brought us this wonderful story last year on mountaineering legend Kathy Phibbs.
Phibbs broke unwritten rules and boundaries in mountain climbing by intentionally making it more inclusive for women to participate. She mentored and led all-women summits to various peaks around the world, but it was in her backyard — the Cascades — where Phibbs started the Mother’s Day tradition of climbing Mount St. Helens in a dress. Now, hundreds of climbers follow her lead every year as a tribute to her philosophy of creating a more fun and accepting outdoor experience.
Stay cool and hydrated!