In the early ’90s, when Eugene’s Pride celebrations were first taking shape, David McCallum remembers telling a local news station, “Yes, some day gays and lesbians will be able to marry.”
Back then, a prediction like that amounted to radical speculation. (Story continues below.)
Those were heady days for homophobia in Oregon. In 1992, when the Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival first registered as a nonprofit, the “Oregon Government Must Discourage Homosexuality Amendment,” aka Measure 9, was on the ballot. In 1994, it was followed by Measure 13, or the “Governments Cannot Approve, Create Classifications Based on, Homosexuality Amendment.”
The Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival “came out of Measures 9 and 13,” McCallum says. “The early organizers were certainly reacting to that.”
Reflecting now, with the recent SCOTUS ruling for marriage equality, McCallum, the festival’s outgoing coordinator, says, “It’s amazing the change that’s happened in a short time.”
McCallum encourages all of Eugene and Springfield to come out for 2015’s festival, running noon to 7 pm Saturday, Aug. 8, at Alton Baker Park; $5 suggested donation. The volunteer-run festival includes food vendors, a beer garden and live music from acts such as Sara Scofield and Pat Trant, Beef Bottom, Betty and the Boy and The Essentials, as well as a performances from the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire — one of Lane County’s longest running LGBTQ organizations — and comedian and drag queen Trai La Trash.
The event will include dozens of vendors, from Basic Rights Oregon to Looking Glass New Roads, Womenspace to AARP, HIV Alliance to Trans*Ponder.
Cass Averill, founder of TransPonder — a local group for trans-identified and questioning people — says their booth will be Pride’s Trans hub.
“Many group members found us for the first time at a previous year’s Pride event,” Averill writes to EW. “I’ve met many trans* folk at Pride who thought they were totally alone in their experience here in Eugene until they found their way to the Trans*Ponder booth.”
McCallum says the festival is always looking for volunteers and encourages new community members to join the board. For more info about volunteering at or attending the Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival, visit eugenepride.org.
Meanwhile, Kim Marks, owner of the sex-positive pleasure shop As You Like It, says that one day is just not enough time to celebrate. “We’re extending Pride in Eugene to be a two-day event,” Marks says. “Pride is really short in Eugene,” she adds, and “we have a parking lot, so let’s have a parking-lot party!”
Pride Day Too! will run 11 am to 6 pm Sunday, Aug. 9, at As You Like It: The Pleasure Shop (1655 W. 11th Ave); free. The event will also feature the brand new Naughty Morsels — “a specialty bakery with an adult twist” — opening soon at 1614 W. 11th Ave.
Joining the lot will be a presence from Hot Mama’s Wings and The Wayward Lamb (formerly known as The Hammered Lamb), the new LGBTQ bar opening downtown on Broadway later this summer. The Wayward Lamb has been rolling out its Our Community photo campaign via social media featuring hundreds of portraits of local members and allies of the LGBTQ community. John O’Malley, event producer and marketing director for The Wayward Lamb, says the project is “about creating a visual history for the LGBTQ citizens of Eugene.” The photos will be hung at the venue. O’Malley says The Wayward Lamb will be at all Pride events in some capacity.
Marks says Pride Day Too! will have something for everyone, but there will be a trans-education focus. “Aydian is coming to give a workshop,” she says of Aydian Dowling, the local trans activist who has recently been catapulted into the spotlight for his work with MTV’s It Gets Better and an appearance on The Ellen Show (see EW’s “Transcendent Man,” 3/5). He is currently in the top 10, out of 1,000 entrants, for the Men’s Health “Ultimate Guy” competition. Dowling, 28, won the reader’s vote portion, and if he wins the contest, he will be the first transgender man to appear on the cover in the magazine’s history.
Other highlights of Pride Day Too! include readings by The Ethical Slut author Janet Hardy, a free photo booth with “risqué” props, a scavenger hunt with prizes, “sexpert” advice and a kid’s coloring station.
Rounding out the celebrations is Cowfish’s Pride pre- and after-parties Aug. 7 and 8 (see “Add Freeks and Stir” this issue), the latter featuring Laganja Estranja, a contestant from Ru Paul’s Drag Race.