“Pride began because queer people organized and fought back against the institutions that were vilifying them."
The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) has a chapter in Portland and in an open letter are asking Pride Northwest to "demand an end to their collaborations with major corporations and the Portland Police, and instead focus on empowering the Queer community."
They say they are concerned about the police presence in the community who are not held accountable.
“The first Pride was a protest led by trans women of color against the police,” the letter continues.
“Pride began because queer people organized and fought back against the institutions that were vilifying them: the economic system that denied them jobs, the housing system that denied them tenancy, and the policing system that is prejudiced against anyone non-normative,” the letter states according to Pink News.
But some say the DSA's viewpoint is actually counterproductive and does nothing more than to ostracize other LGBT people.
"I really felt like the request for officers to not march was essentially trying to put them back into the closet," said Robert Ball, a longtime former reserve commander to Williamette Week. "Banning police officers from a Pride parade—I think makes it go back in the other direction and actually hurts trust. I believe they are not recognizing the hard work and change that's occurred [in the bureau]. It's a two-way street. If people work hard to make changes, I think that needs to be recognized and it needs to be celebrated."
Ball has been marching in Portland Pride a little over two decades. He says he understands the tragic history of Pride.
"But that history is not the world we live in now," he said. "I can't put myself in the place of an African American LGBTQ person who is afraid of the police. [But] I can put myself in the place of being fearful because I've been through that. I grew up in rural Oregon as a gay kid who heard slurs and was afraid to come out. I went into the Police Bureau, and I felt afraid. [But] sometimes you have to feel discomfort to have progress."
Another bone of contention DSA has with Pride is corporate sponsorship. They say major corporations only wish to exploit the LGBT communities by profiting off of our identities.
"As Queer people, we are a diverse group, and yet we are truly not represented by these corporations."
Portland Pride is happening on June 15 and June 16. It is the single, largest visibility avenue for that region’s LGBTQ community organizations and businesses.