BEND, OR -- Central Oregon's annual Pride Festival is even bigger this year, thanks to a new partnership between the Human Dignity Coalition, which has organized the event for more than 10 years, and OUT Central Oregon (OCO). Coalition President Jamie Bowman tells KBND News, "As a collective of organizations that participate in the work that we do, would love for it to just get bigger and bigger and really show this community that we take equity and inclusion seriously and we value LGBTQ folks in all of Central Oregon." And, she believes the region is ready to embrace the event, "People are interested in standing up and doing the right thing. I think that we, as a nation, really, are deciding that it's time to make equity a priority."
In conjunction with the Pride Festival, OUT Central Oregon will host its first 5K fun run/walk and "Drag Dash." OCO President Jamie Nesbitt says other Pride events around the country already include races, and it seemed like a natural addition, "With regards to Bend being a very active, outdoor community, a 5K just seemed like the perfect fit. It's a reflection of the active community here in Bend." He'd like to see the local festivities eventually stretch through all of June, "OUT Central Oregon's perspective for Pride Month is to have more than just the Central Oregon Pride Festival. 'Pride' is not just one day in June in Central Oregon. There's events for everybody throughout the month of June. Everybody can celebrate Pride as a month-long celebration." Bowman says this year's expanded events will help achieve that goal, "With OUT Central Oregon doing the 5K that morning, that's a very Bend-centric kind of event; it gets people really pumped and excited. I think that it's going to be pretty big and I'm really excited to see if we have reached some goals of having a couple thousand folks out."
Central Oregon Pride is the second largest pride event in Oregon. It begins at 9:30 a.m. at Drake Park. Aside from the 5K and "Drag Dash," there will be live music, food and raffles. It's open to everyone who values inclusivity, community, and diversity.