Closing the parade, in the 167th and final spot, will be the Border Riders Motorcycle Club, one of the largest and longest-running motorcycle clubs for gay men in North America.
The club was founded in 1969, the same year as the Stonewall riots in New York City. But for Jeff Booth, who grew up across the country in Portland, the uprising wasn’t initially big news.
“It was off my radar,” Booth said. “I was only 19, barely out of high school. And I personally was not aware of things at that time.”
Growing up gay in the 1950s and 1960s wasn’t easy for Booth. He said he knew as a child that he was gay, but he also realized early on people around him would not have responded positively if he came out.
“It’s a matter of always having to hide, always having to conceal, never really being who you are,” Booth said. “… with the Border Riders, I can be who I am, and I don’t have to apologize to anybody or hide from anybody.”
For 22 years, Booth has been part of the Border Riders and, at 67, he’s still more than a decade younger than some members. In fact, three of the founding members of the club, now in their 80s, are still involved, though they have hung up their helmets. (The club’s FAQ is quick to point out that members range from their late 20s to early 80s.)
Two years ago, Booth broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. He’d never been seriously hurt riding before, but months of recovery have given him pause. While he’s still active in the club, he hasn’t been on a bike since his crash.
“I would really like to be out there riding,” he said, “But I really have to ask, as I’m getting up into my 60s, do I really have the mental acuity to safely ride? So it’s a transition I’m working through.”
But you may still catch him in Portland’s Pride Parade.
“My bike has not moved in two years. The battery is dead,” he said. “But I think I am going to run down to the Harley dealer and get a fresh battery and put it in, because I really want to ride in the parade on Sunday.”
To hear the entire conversation with Jeff Booth, use the audio player at the top of this story.