The city will host its “Seaside 1st Pride,” a daylong series of Pride events on June 25, thanks to the grassroots efforts of a small group of organizers seeking to bring visibility and a sense of celebration to the LGBTQ community.
“It’s been great to see the community coming forward to try to make this happen for themselves,” said Christiane Reed, one of the event’s original volunteer organizers. “It’s a super grassroots, local movement.”
The festivities will begin at noon with a march on the Promenade from 12th Avenue to the Turnaround. That will be followed by a picnic lunch at Quatat Park at 1 p.m. and a showing of “The Greatest Showman” at 6 p.m., location to be determined.
The event is following on the tail of the City Council reading a proclamation declaring June as Pride month during their meeting May 23 — an achievement also spurred by the same group of volunteers.
Planting the seed
Reed, who works at Oregon & More in downtown Seaside along with her wife, Nikki, recalls when the store started gathering donations for Astoria’s Lower Columbia Q Center last fall. When representatives from the Q Center stopped by to say thank you, it sparked a discussion about the desire to see a pride event in Seaside.
Within the following weeks, the Reeds—along with Oregon & More owner Donna Benefiel and Brick Stone and Logan Dahlen, the owners of Controversial Coffee downtown—were putting together the event with guidance and encouragement from the Q Center.
“They’ve really been supportive of our movement here,” Reed said.
The group scheduled planning meetings and started visiting local businesses to drum up support. Soon, other members of the community joined in who were essential to helping the planning group understand various logistics, such as permitting, liability and insurance, Reed said.
“It’s been so exciting having so many people from our community come out of the woodwork,” she said.
All are welcome
Reed originally had modest expectations for the event, expecting a handful of people to show up for the Promenade march, but they are gaining significant momentum. Some groups from Portland are planning to attend, along with the gay student associations from the Seaside middle and high schools. The organizers are hopeful a couple hundred people will attend.
Anyone is welcome to join in, and organizers encourage signs and banners for the walk. The subsequent lunch is a bring-your-own-picnic affair, but they hope to have an MC and music playing.
For Reed, celebrating Pride is important to bring awareness and visibility to the local LGBTQIA+ community and ensure they feel welcomed in Seaside.
“We felt there needed to be something to represent us here more,” she added. “We’re here and a part of this community and contributing to it.”
At certain places with the area, there is still the sense that “we’re accepted but we’re not welcomed, invited. I want us to be welcomed and invited,” she said. “It’s time that Pride was accepted everywhere.”
The group is selling shirts and giving away Pride stickers, with donations encouraged. They can be picked up at Controversial Coffee or Oregon & More. Organizers also will distribute posters to local businesses who want them.
The Sunset Park and Recreation Foundation is the nonprofit fiscal sponsor for the event, which enables contributions to be considered charitable donations. All funds not spent on the Pride event will go to the local GSAs.
“That way everything, all of the funding, stays here in our community,” Reed said.
To stay up to date with details for the Seaside pride celebration, visit the group’s Facebook Page, Pride in Seaside. Members of the public also are welcome at planning meetings.