A diverse crowd of several hundred gathered at Wait Park Sunday afternoon to celebrate the community’s second annual Pride in the Park — an event centered on acceptance, fun, support and unity for those in the LGBTQ community and their family, friends and allies.
The celebration offered a welcoming space where individuals in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community could be themselves and connect with others.
Several local organizations and nonprofits were on-hand to share resources and support, including Bridging Cultures Canby, The Equi Institute and the Clackamas County Clerk’s Office. The Canby Arts Association facilitated a booth for participants to express their creativity with rock painting and other activities.
“It was awesome,” Kristi Smith, the lead organizer of the event for the past two years, said afterward. “I’m really happy. We had at least a couple hundred people out here that were able to enjoy the music, access a few resources, and engage with some of our local businesses and organizations.”
The Canby Fire District and Canby Police Department also supported the event, as did several local businesses including The Book Nook, Kona Ice, Art-O-Maddic, Canby Signs and Graphics, DirectLink, Retro Revival, Baker’s Prairie Bakery and Wayward Sandwiches, whose food truck sold out of everything but grilled cheese over the course of the four-hour event.
The City of Canby provided funding for the event through its Community Enhancement Grant Program. And from the Wait Park gazebo floated the soulful melodies of singer Jessi La Main, who performed popular songs as well as some original material, while kids and adults danced and sang along.
“It just feels like this is something that should be happening,” La Main told the Current. “This is actually my first Pride in Canby, and I was very pleasantly surprised and excited. I always love playing in the gazebo here, and it’s always so wonderful to see people dancing, the kids playing in the bubbles.”
La Main, a lesbian who attended with her wife, Donna, La Main said Pride is all about grassroots engagement and support.
“We always want to push for equal and safe access to resources for people within the queer community,” she said. “And that doesn’t always happen, so being able to be a little bit more in the public eye, like, ‘Hey, we’re here, we’re queer, we’re not going anywhere,’ does help make a difference, I think.
“And for me, if you can help make your presence known with a bit of music, all the better.”
This year also included a larger group of volunteer organizers, Smith said, which she believes contributed significantly to its growth.
“We started meeting in late February, and I think our desire was not to grow too big too fast,” she said. “We wanted to create a welcoming space where folks can feel comfortable coming out and getting to know each other.”
Organizers have an ambitious vision for the future, aiming to expand beyond the annual Pride event and create smaller gatherings centered around inclusivity and acceptance.
“We want to create more safe spaces for our LGBTQ-identified neighbors and allies in the community,” Smith said. “Our big push right now is to really want to do more than one big annual Pride but maybe get people together for smaller events with the same underlying theme that everybody’s welcome.”
Canby Pride is a volunteer-led community organization that aims to foster unity, acceptance, and understanding among individuals regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or background. Learn more or connect on Facebook or at canbypride.com.
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