The second annual Astoria Pride celebrated the LGBTQ community with events at the Liberty Theater, a block party, and a parade along the Astoria Riverwalk over the weekend.
“It’s important to me,” said Marco Davis, chairman of the Lower Columbia Q Center and a member of the Astoria Pride committee. “I grew up here, and I didn’t get the opportunity to get the support. It’s been my mission to change that.”
Astoria businesses recognized Astoria Pride by hanging rainbow flags on buildings and downtown light poles.
Many U.S. cities supported the LGBTQ community with parades and festivals to celebrate equality.
“We just want to show we are human,” said David Drafall, treasurer of the Q Center and another member of the Astoria Pride committee.
On Saturday, Astoria celebrated its first Pride block party at the foot of 21st Street.
“I think it’s absolutely amazing to have a place where all of us can be here smiling, laughing and not worrying about anything,” Heather Spivey said.
Vendors sold various items, such as unicorn horns, mermaid costumes and tie-dye clothing.
Children danced while blowing bubbles and hula-hooping, while bands played. “We’re very pleased with the turnout of the vendors, the people, and of course, the weather,” said Donna Galich, Pride committee chairwoman. She said about 1,200 people took part.
On Sunday, the Astoria Riverfront Trolley led the Pride Riverwalk Parade, which began at Maritime Memorial Park and went east.
About 360 paraders wore rainbow socks and necklaces with Astoria Pride shirts, while carrying rainbow flags and umbrellas. Some dogs were decked out in tutus and other Pride attire.
“I think it’s an important event as a whole because it brings people together. We’re making a statement in a way that’s peaceful, that’s loving,” Galich said.
Feel the support
Rachael McDougall and her wife traveled from South Bend, Washington, to take part in the Astoria Pride festivities.
“It’s so wonderful to have a queer community this close, because on the Washington side, there’s nothing,” McDougall said. “I haven’t felt this relaxed and free to be me in a long time.”
For fear of losing custody of her children and other backlash, McDougall said she did not come out about her sexuality until she was 55. With her partner of five years, she said she loves and feels love in a way she never has before.
McDougall enjoys the opportunity to surround herself with people from the LGBTQ community
“It’s always kind of sweet and sour because I wish we lived in a world where people felt free to be who they are.”
Nevertheless, McDougall said she appreciates the chance to participate in Pride events. “It’s not like trying to swim upstream. It’s like being in a big pond, a big queer pond.”