The Longview LGBTQ community and its supporters will celebrate Pride Month locally with “United in Pride,” a family-friendly march and event Saturday.
The celebration includes a carnival-style festival at Lower Columbia College with karaoke, “story time” with a local drag queen, HIV testing and booths for other community support and resource groups, as well as other activities.
“It’s a very family-friendly event, and we have a lot of games and activities scheduled,” said Heather Wooldridge, chair of the Rainbow Advocacy Inclusion and Networking Services (RAINS) group that is organizing the event. “We have about 15 community agencies, including four affirming churches, that will be ... providing information about what they provide in the community.”
RAINS is also using the festival to “formally kick off” its community needs assessment survey, Wooldridge said. That survey will gauge the issues, concerns and needs of Cowlitz County as they relate to the LGBTQ community, so groups like RAINS can better support those individuals.
“We are asking as many people as possible to fill (the survey) out, whether they identify as LGBTQ or not,” she said. The survey is available online at https://www.surveylegend.com/s/1i47, and can be completed in advance of the festival.
Wooldridge said it’s “really important for (LGBTQ) people to understand they aren’t alone.” Pride events like this one offer a safe space for LGTBQ individuals and advocates to come together, share stories and network with others she said.
It’s the sixth year for the local pride celebration, which is organized by RAINS, the Lower Columbia College LGBTQ Club and the Columbia River Trans Community.
“It’s getting bigger each time because more people are coming to the table, and more partnerships are being formed,” said Kaos Lord, vice chair for RAINS.
Lord, who uses they/them pronouns, said the event plays an important role in “bridging the gap into the community” for LGBTQ individuals and advocates.
“We really need to connect with our community so the community knows that we are not just an isolated group. We are not (people) who want to hide out,” Lord said.
In previous years, the pride festival and march were separate events organized by RAINS and the Columbia River Trans Community, respectively. The festival seemed to cater more to LCC students because it happened on a week day, Wooldridge said.
But this year RAINS and the CRTC scheduled their events for the same day to appeal to more community members, she said. (The festival will still be part of the college’s campus events, though it’s not directly related with the college, Wooldridge said.)
“We hope people will feel more at ease coming over to the event, realizing that it’s not just for LCC but for the whole community,” she said.
To keep the event welcoming to the larger Longview community, the pride event is designed to be kid- and family-friendly, Wooldridge said.
“It’s not like Portland Pride, where you might see someone topless going through the parade,” she said. “It’s really meant to meet this community where we are.”
The hour-long march starts at 11 a.m. at the Longview Civic Circle. Then, marchers will walk to the outdoor quad near the LCC Student Center for the festival, which runs from noon to 3 p.m. Goddess Rockefeller, a local drag queen who frequently reads at the Longview Public Library, will host a story time session starting at 1 p.m.
The event is “about the (fun) and being able to feel included,” Lord said. “You can be a part of this and meet more people who are identifying similarly. Or just have a passion about supporting anyone wherever they are.”
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