Blow-up penises, rainbow socks and colorful flags filled the streets of downtown Portland on Father's Day weekend. While the crowded, white tents strewn along the waterfront and neon colors caught many people's attention, the large audience, attendees and police force that Sunday afternoon is what grasped mine.
On June 19, Pride Northwest hosted the Pride Parade in the heart of downtown Portland. But that was not the beginning. Or the end. In continuing to support the LGBTQ community, Portland was the site of the pride festival and festivities that have taken place throughout the month of June.
But this year was different.
In an article on OregonianLive.com, a Pacific University student spoke about waking up the morning of the parade, afraid.
In the article she was quoted saying: "I refuse to live in fear," and "too many people have fought for civil rights. My generation has received the privilege from that, and we can't let that go."
And she is right. Thousands from all over Portland and the surrounding area came to march to support equality among sexuality, the LGBTQ community and the victims of hate crimes.
But this year, marchers had other thoughts on their mind. Only a few weeks prior, on June 12, a tragedy struck. In light of the shooting that took place at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, people were marching to support the Orlando Victims as well as other victims that have been succumbed to violence because of their sexuality.
"We are Orlando" and "We were born this way" were just some of the signs being waved high above the proud supporters of the LGBTQ community.
For me, I grew up in a worldly city and an open-minded household. But sometimes I forget the other differing views from those of my fellow Portlanders. I forget people can have so much hate pulsing through their veins for people because of their sexuality. I forget until I am reminded. Reminded of the violence seen on the news; the negative words echoed throughout school hallways; the harassment seen in neighborhoods. And for this very reason, I take pride in my extremely liberal and accepting city.
Like the signs said, "We were born this way." People do not necessarily have a choice. No one should feel jailed and encased in the skin they are supposed to be living in. The American motto deems us all free and unique individuals, so shouldn't we be allowed to live up to that standard?
We all are just people trying to live in a world where we should be able to live just exactly how we were born to live.
So on that note, I support Orlando. I support equality.