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SOPride parade and LGBTQ+ events next weekend

Pride is coming to Ashland. Well, pride is always in Ashland, but parades don’t happen every day.

In a town that boasts acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and is home to one of the top queer-friendly universities in the nation, celebrating pride is not only a favorite past time of Ashland residents but an important part in moving the bar of inclusivity.

This year, the theme for Southern Oregon Pride festivities is “Celebrating 50 years since Stonewall, Honor the History and Forge the Future.”

The Stonewall riots are considered one of the most influential protests forming LGBTQ+ rights. According to organizer Gina DuQuenne, 50 years ago violent riots ensued in the streets of New York outside the Stonewall bar after police raided the gay-friendly spot, beat and arrested patrons. She said the following year was the first pride parade and since then they’ve popped up all over the world spreading acceptance of the queer community.

“I think it’s so important for us to recognize that it’s been 50 years so that we can reflect and never forget where we came from - the trails and struggles, how many people have been killed and are still getting killed and we can never forget that,” DuQueene said. “Talking about the youth, so many of us don’t understand why we even march.”

Kicking off SOPride festivities is a celebration including a DJ, dancing, drag show, snacks and a cash bar from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at the Ashland Hills Hotel, 2525 Ashland St.

All proceeds go to the SOPride scholarship foundation and the SOPride parade. Tickets for the kickoff dance in advance are $20, $15 for students or $25 at the door. Tickets are available at Paddington Station, 125 E. Main St., Ashland, or online at sopride.org.

Pride parade

Dust off your rainbow everything for the ninth annual SOPride parade and celebration from noon “until you drop” Saturday, Oct. 12.

The parade starts at Main Street with everyone marching to the Butler Bandshell in Lithia Park.

This year’s grand marshal is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s new executive artistic director, Nataki Garrett.

Vendors and food trucks will be at the park from noon until 4 p.m.

Events such as a speech by Garrett, music by DJ Gemeineye, a drag show and vendor booths are scheduled from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

After 5 p.m., participating Ashland restaurants, clubs and stores will keep the celebration going.

DuQuenne said for the past five years SOPride has granted a Southern Oregon University student a scholarship.

She said this year they don’t have a scholarship recipient yet but will select one very soon.

DuQuenne handed off the parade festivities to Lotus Rising Project to organize for the past two years, but since they’re closed, she has taken over as organizer again.

“This is my baby, so I scooped her back up, dusted her off and the bitch is back,” DuQuenne said. “I say that because to me 'bitch' doesn’t have to be anything bad; it can be a term of endearment, but I want it to be fun and exciting and in the culture that we live in right now we need to have some fun. We need to be excited about life and each other and this is important.”

DuQuenne has lived in Ashland for nearly 11 years with her wife, adding that SOPride will celebrate its 10-year anniversary next year.

“The purpose behind all of this is for the youth, and my goal is to be able to get the generations behind me and get them involved and excited about pride and what we’re doing here in Ashland,” DuQuenne said. “I want to continue the march in solidarity for all of us. So many people are divided and close-minded. We want to march for one race – the human race, all culture, all colors equal one love.”

“It’s not about tolerance; please don’t tolerate me,” DuQuenne said. “It’s about acceptance; accept me.”

For more information, visit www.sopride.org.

The Rogue Valley Pride! Celebration begins with a parade through downtown Ashland. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch
Marchers from the 2017 Southern Oregon Pride parade in Ashland, Oregon. Photo by{ }George Rubaloff.