There may not be a Pride festival this year, but the celebration must go on. So grab your rainbow flag and Black Lives Matter signs, and get ready to hit the streets.
Eugene Pride and Black Unity are teaming up to host the Pride March for Black Trans Lives on Aug. 8 in place of the annual Pride in the Park Festival this year. Instead of drag queen performances and vendor booths, marchers are meeting at the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse to listen to speakers and then start a march, which will end at Kiwanis Park near Skinner Butte.
Brooks McClain is a board member at large for Eugene Pride. He says that though this march is to celebrate pride of everyone involved in the LGBTQIA community, Pride wants to focus their support on Black lives and Black trans individuals, shedding light on the injustice and violence minority trans people face because of their race and gender. He says that organizers also hope the march helps strengthen mutual aid networks between the various groups involved.
Black Unity leader Claire Reyna said in an email to Eugene Weekly that when the group advocates that Black lives matter — they mean all Black lives.
“It is critical during this time that members in the community are educating themselves in order to be better allies and advocates for oppressed communities. We want people to understand that if you are fighting for Black lives that means ALL Black lives, including Black trans lives,” Reyna says.
The march seeks to amplify Black voices. People of color from different organizations such as Planned Parenthood, HIV Alliance, TransPonder and local government officials, including state Sen. James Manning and Eugene City Councilor Greg Evans, will speak at the event.
“You won’t be hearing from us, it’s specific voices that the community needs to hear right now,” McClain says.
This would have marked the festival’s 29th year, but due to the ongoing pandemic, there were limited options in how to approach a Pride celebration. McClain says that several members of Eugene Pride have attended Black Lives Matter protests throughout the last few months and were inspired to collaborate on a march in lieu of hosting a virtual event, which many other canceled festivals have turned to.
“Rather than having a virtual event, it seemed that we really needed to go to our activist roots,” McCLain says. He adds later that organizers and participants will be taking proper precautions such as wearing masks while marching.
Both McClain and Eugene Pride Vice President Vince Mays say that pulling organizations together for this event is what Pride is all about — bringing people together and showing them love. All people of the LGBTQ community as well as allies are welcome to attend and celebrate together.
In order to better understand all Black lives, Reyna says, it’s imperative to understand the struggle of all Black, Indigneous, people of color (BIPOC), which includes the LGBTQIA+ community.
“We must let the BIPOC LGBTQIA+ community be heard.”
Mays says that the activist groups planning the event are aligned and overlap in the community, so it made sense to work together in pulling it off.
“Black Unity and Pride are both fighting to bring awareness to the violence, obstacles and challenges that people of color face as part of the queer communtiy,” he says.
Mays adds that queer teenagers, especially those of color, often have higher suicide rates, and events like this are an opporutnity to show them that they are loved and cared for.
“This is an event where people can express love and gratitude for one another. We want to invite everyone who wants to do that to come out and be a part of it,” Mays says. “Bring your kids, bring your family, come out and say hello.” ν
Eugene Pride’s March for Black Trans Lives starts 11 am Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse. To volunteer for the march contact firstname.lastname@example.org.