Bend’s 2023 Summer Pride

Rain could not stop an outpouring of support


On Saturday, June 24, the Queer Creators Collective hosted Bend’s 2023 Summer Pride festival at Central Oregon Community College from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. At approximately 2:30 p.m., heavy rains temporarily paused the event, leaving many in search of shelter. However, for the many vendors and attendees, the event was not yet over.

The Queer Creators Collective was founded in December 2022, seeking to support members of the LGBTQ+ community with a safe environment and resources to better the queer community. One of the focuses is specifically geared towards young queer youth, who are far more likely to be threatened with and subjected to violence than their heterosexual peers,  according to the CDC.

Among the booths, free mental and sexual health resources were provided, such as condoms, help lines and crisis centers for at-risk youth. Other free commodities included water bottles, stickers and flags, which were offered to attendees to battle the heat and show support. Many local businesses attended and sponsored the event, ranging from breweries like 10 Barrel, to the Deschutes Public Library. Throughout the afternoon, various BIPOC and queer activists and artists sang and talked onstage, telling their stories and keeping the crowd engaged.

Increased security concerns, such as bag checks and metal detectors, come hand in hand with the recent rise in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, particularly evidenced by the increase in anti-LGBTQ+ attacks throughout the United States. According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), in November of 2022 alone, homophobic rhetoric and propaganda had more than doubled since 2021. Heavily monitored entrances meant that the event was gated, with a quickly-moving line of attendees searched thoroughly for weapons and outside food or drink before being allowed in.

Despite the rain and the political tension that looms over the minds of many in the queer community, the 2023 Summer Pride was a welcome escape, creating a safe space for Central Oregon’s LGBTQ+ community and allies.