In Recognition of the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots

In five months and fifty years ago, the Stonewall uprising began: a rebellion against a society that attempted to shame and abuse us into hiding, into silence. The courage of trans women of color, sex workers, and activists — Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, to name just a few — put forth a shout that our community latched onto and lifted up, and has yet to let down. These riots became symbolic of a major turning point in the history of our community's struggle for liberation and humane societal and legal recognition. The many iterations of Pride can all trace their roots back to an uninterrupted string of marches, beginning with New York City's Gay Pride Liberation March of 1970, in anniversary recognition of Stonewall. While Pride Portland! has only just surpassed its fifth year, Portland saw Maine's first Pride in 1987 (the same year as the Second National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights) and our annual protest has taken place ever since. There are those among us who were there at the beginning, and have been here ever since. We recognize the efforts, courage, and leadership of our elders and ancestors, both in Maine and around the world, who have fought and too often lost their lives in our collective struggle to live our truths.

As a yearly event, put on by a new and ever-shifting crop of volunteers, Pride Portland! must learn from and reflect upon its past in order to move boldly and surely into each new year. Many things can be said of our history, both near and far, and many things have been said. What none of us could be sure to disagree on is the great passion, care, and investment our community shares in its annual manifestation of Pride. As an expression of a tradition coming into its fiftieth year, our Pride is as lively and vibrant as one could hope for. Pride is alive through us, through our efforts, through our discussions and debates. Every year has seen its struggles and its triumphs. Pride Portland! 2018 saw more than its fair share of passion, and perhaps its largest attendance yet. For that and much more we can be proud.

And yet, as a representative from last year's steering committee, I can take accountability for both our actions and our misactions, our successes and our failures. It is my understanding and my experience that we all shared with each other our greatest intentions and truths in a bare and raw, admirable way. However, in the difficult conversations and attempted growths of last year, the steering committee could have done better in treating with dignity and respect several of the long-standing relationships which many in our community so value. I can say in earnest that we as volunteers poured our hearts and hours into the labor of Pride, and that we poured as much as we were able. Despite this, we did miss important meetings and stumbled many times with transparent and consistent communication, leading to the damaging of many community members' sense of connection to our Pride — a disconnect perhaps most exemplified in the absence of the iconic River of Pride flag at last year’s Parade. Every steering committee will struggle with issues surrounding community engagement in their own unique ways, wrestling with how best to communicate as well and as broadly with as many as possible. But if we do not admit our missteps and take ownership of them, we will be doomed to repeat them. And so it is to those who felt silenced or shamed, disrespected or unheard, that I extend my heartfelt apologies for the committee's part in causing this harm.

As a representative now of a new committee, it is my greatest and most sincere hope that we can all come together once more and funnel our efforts into yet another magnificent display of our many and diverse experiences, values, and personal expressions. To that end, we would like to announce four commitments we are following through with this year to address some of the challenges encountered during Pride Portland! 2018:

  • We are working with Carl Pease, PRP, a local registered parliamentarian who assisted in running last year's elections, to update our governing documents to be clear, concise, and without any internal contradictions (especially regarding elections and membership definitions)

  • We are reinstating regular constructive community work meetings (beginning February 25), whereat members of the community will be invited to contribute their input and/or concerns to specific work teams in constructive and collaborative ways

  • We will attend every meeting we commit to (or else communicate in advance if a reschedule is required) and shall treat all concerned community members with the respect they deserve, regardless of differences in personal views or stances

  • We will be streamlining our communication across our various platforms so that community members can more reliably and coherently obtain relevant information pertaining to Pride Portland! happenings, meetings, and other events

While Pride has grown and evolved over time into something quite different in appearance from its beginnings, it shares still in the original project and spirit: the belief that together we are stronger, and together we can raise our voices so high that even those who might otherwise ignore us can not help but pay attention. We have come a long way in many regards, and yet still have a ways to go in many more. Our liberation is tied to that of all those around us. And so it is for those before us, those among us, and those yet to come that we shout, and throw glitter, and wear our brightest colors — unapologetically and enthusiastically. For while our own loud gathering in Portland is no longer seen as a burden to be suppressed, but rather a festival to be admired and observed, in many parts of the world it would not be so. Our celebration is our protest; our protest, our celebration. And so I call us all to join together this year, in recognition of our collective resilience, in observance of the solemnity of the occasion, and in gaiety so colorful and abundant that none could ignore it. We welcome 2019, a new year of fighting and of celebrating, of chanting and of singing. Pride is what you make of it, so let us make it a Pride to remember.

In loving solidarity,

Cybele Brandow, Co-Chair Pride Portland! 2018-19

Pride Portland! 2019 Steering Committee

Sebastiane Sacerdoti-Ravencroft, Co-Chair
Jan Wilkinson, Treasurer
Sara Cooper, Secretary
Kelly Locke, Parade Chair
Rebecca Tanous, Festival Chair
Alix Towler, Events Chair
Abigail Borcherds, Fundraising Chair
Priscilla M. Acosta, Marketing Chair
Meagan L. Lauer, Volunteer Chair
Lawrence Jackson-Rosen, At-Large
James Melanson, At-Large
Ren Morrill, At-Large
Justine Taylor, At-Large 

Pride Portland