I have lived in Portland for three years now, but I have never been to the Portland Gay Pride parade. I am surprised myself since it is heavily promoted. It happens annually, and this year it landed in the middle of July.
I was invited to go and volunteer. The parade itself was in Chinatown, and crowds of people filled the streets all the way to the Waterfront. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I have never really been to a parade in general. It was a spectacle.
There were numerous floats, vehicles, and people dressed in a variety of themes. Yet, the message was the same throughout, equality, respect, and gay culture. Our society has subgroups and subcultures such as the hip hop culture, indie culture, Chicano culture and so forth. The gay community also has its subgroups.
We tend to be me more familiar with the image of a gay man as fit, well dressed, and well groomed. However, one of the floats represented the “bear” gay man, which is the opposite of what we stereotype gay men to be. The “bear” gay man is comfortable being big and overweight, hairy and even very masculine. That sent an important message – be confident, comfortable and happy with yourself.