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‘It’s tough out here’: Bend Pride Fest organizers reflect on community as annual event nears

(Update: Adding video, comments from organizers)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Saturday, June 1st marks the first day of Pride Month and Bend Pride Fest. The Bend Pride Coalition and SUS Magazine have teamed up for this year's event.

"There's opportunities for interviews and conversations and meeting different people. Like it's a community aspect that I think is kind of huge," said Jake Redding with the Bend Pride Coalition.

This year's festival will highlight the history and liberation of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community with the 2024 slogan, "The first pride was a riot".

 Ruth Vernotico, the founder of SUS magazine, said, "It really feels like an opportunity for me to do things for the community that I've always wished were done for me, and to be present and provide space for people who are traditionally marginalized."

The festival comes as political tension across the country rises with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. Human Rights Campaign says nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.

Here in Bend, local queer-owned coffee shop Turtle Island Coffee has had its pride flags stolen multiple times. Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler displayed a pride flag at a February City Council meeting to show solidarity.

Jordan Isaacson with the Bend Pride Coalition said, "I just think it's really important that we all come together. Whatever fragmented perceptions there could be that we really all unite and support one another because it's tough out here."

The festival is back at Drake Park after being held at COCC last year due to construction.

"We're back downtown," Redding said. "We're back in a space that demands representation. It demands our our voices to be heard. And so we're excited to be back with our community locally."

The festival will have food carts, informational booths, and performances from 11 am to 5 pm. An after-party will be held at Silver Moon Brewing, along with events all month long.

Vernotico said, "I think it's really incredible that a town as big and small as Bend is doing what other cities have not been able to. I've lived in a lot of communities, a lot of queer places in the world. And I'll tell you right now, this is the most cohesive and really stick-to-it community that I've ever existed in or experienced."

Article Topic Follows: Community

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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