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Central Ore. LGBT Community Gathers in Grief, Pride

The 12th Annual Central Oregon Pride Festival takes place in Bend this Saturday at Drake Park. (Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons)
The 12th Annual Central Oregon Pride Festival takes place in Bend this Saturday at Drake Park. (Another Believer/Wikimedia Commons)
June 24, 2016

BEND, Ore. -- Bend will host the 12th annual Central Oregon Pride Celebration on Saturday, celebrating the LGBT population of central Oregon.

Although that community is smaller than those in some other areas of Oregon -- the first Central Oregon Pride Celebration drew 35 people in 2004 -- festival director Paige Matthews said she expects a big turnout this year, and excitement from people to show their pride.

"A piece of it is showing our own community that we live here," she said. "That's a really big part, especially in a predominantly rural community."

Matthews said she expects around 5,000 people from Bend and rural parts of central Oregon to attend. In light of this month's fatal shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the event will have increased security. Matthews said the shooting adds a level of sadness to the celebration but also has reminded the LGBT community of the festival's importance.

"The point of Pride has always been this, which is to come out and get excited and celebrate in the face of grief or sadness or ... the reasons we've always had to come together," she said. "It's just kind of a reminder of why we've always done this."

This weekend also is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that required all states to recognize same-sex marriages. While Matthews is happy about the decision, she said that in some cases, legal equality has moved faster than equality in daily life.

"Are people safe when the go to the bathroom? Are people safe kissing their partner in public? Are people safe holding each other's hands? It's that 'lived equality' piece that we're still working on," she said.

Central Oregon Pride will take place from noon to 6 p.m. Saturday in Drake Park.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR