While Corvallis, Oregon is not hosting an official Pride celebration, Albany Pride will hold its Pride event at 10 a.m. on June 25 at the Albany City Hall Plaza, where participants can find LGBTQIA+-owned businesses and resources.
The city of Albany issued a Pride 2022 proclamation as it has in some capacity since 2017, which was voted on unanimously by council members, and Linn County also issued an official Pride Month proclamation. The Corvallis government has neither made nor rejected a Pride Month proclamation this year.
The Lebanese Center Association will host Family Pride Day on June 18 at 1 pm, starting at the Lebanese Academy Plaza. Philomath’s Pride was held on June 4.
Keith Kolkow founded Albany Pride in 2017 despite initially being concerned about “resistance” from Albany city councilors who supported anti-equity votes and language. But Kolkow said he believed his talent and knowledge were needed to help the community after Donald Trump’s presidential election.
“I knew people were scared and feeling isolated, so I decided to host a Pride event,” Kolkow said.
Albany Pride has held a Pride event every year since 2017, according to Kolkow, except for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the organization has received “staggering amounts of grassroots support” from allies and community members, without whom he said it could not have done it.
“It’s really a grassroots event with everything from sound equipment to local drag shows, everything is donated,” Kolkow explained. “Since 2018, we have also featured resources for organizations that directly serve the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as LGBTQIA+-owned businesses.”
2022 is Albany Pride’s fifth year of operation, and Kolkow said it “marks a major change for Pride.” He said that he formed a partnership with the United Way of Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties, which now act as Albany Pride’s Fiscal agent.
Kolkow said he believes the money comes with an “immense responsibility” to raise capital and deliver [results] for the community from the first dollar, with most of its funding going to cover Albany Pride overhead and artist compensation.
“These artists deserve compensation,” Kolkow said. “In addition, we will provide fees to our activist speakers and tribal representatives who conduct land surveys. I will not be compensated as I believe this is an honor for bring to our community.”
According to Kolkow, the remaining donated funds will be donated to organizations that directly serve Linn County LGBTQIA+ youth. She said that Albany Pride is often referred to as the Pride Parade, but Albany Pride is not a parade, despite including an annual march. He believes that everyone who can should get active and participate in the march.
“We should always march and remember why we march,” Kolkow said.
Michaela Martin, an Albany-Lebanon local and Oregon State University alumna, said she has always been interested in LGBTQIA+ rights and advocacy, thanks in part to her own bisexuality.
Martin explained that politics has been important to her since she was young; she directly impacted her as she has been out of it as bisexual since before she finished high school.
“My mom always said, ‘You can’t complain about things if you’re not trying to change them,’” Martin said. “I think I took it literally, which meant I had to complain about everything that I was trying to change.”
Martin said he was in bed researching the rules for adding a code to the ballot when he came across Chapter 270 and immediately contacted Linn County commissioners the next day.
Adopted in June 1993, Linn County Code Chapter 270, “No Gay Rights,” denies minority status or protection to people who identify as LGBTQ+ and prohibits spending county funds in ways that express approval of homosexuality.
“It really tore me apart,” Martin said. “Laying in my bed at two in the morning and I was like, ‘What is this?’”
At first glance, Martin said there was no indication that the code was, in fact, unenforceable and later found that it was unenforceable, but was “on hold” in case the commission decided to enforce or remove it.
According to Martin, the code was quietly removed from the website during this process and is now only available through a public records request, and when he called to ask why, he was not given an explanation.
“How could anyone know to do that?” Michaela asked.
Martin said that once Oregon introduced LGBTQIA+ rights, several smaller counties and towns enacted a “wave” of anti-LGBTQIA+ opposition through local bills, but they were ultimately shut down in the Oregon Supreme Court.
“But the fact that our commission held it,” Martin said. “How process it?”
Martin said that, despite being unenforceable, he saw Chapter 270 as “a beacon of homophobia” and the symbolism It can not forget
Basic Rights Oregon has a timeline of Oregon’s pro- and anti-LGBTQIA+ policies from 1853 to 2021, including repeated attempts to push Measure 9 by the Christian organization. Oregon Citizens Alliance.
According to Martin, he began contacting any advocates he knew, but it was difficult for organizations to commit resources to removing such small, unenforceable code. She said some of her supporter friends were concerned and told her she should be cautious about drawing attention to the issue at the risk of “fueling opposition.” Martin said she even pulled out a post office box so her physical address wouldn’t be found on any paperwork, especially since her son, Ezra, was only two or three years old at the time and she was worried about her safety.
Martin was also involved with the Linn County Democrats in 2017 and ended up connecting with Kolkow.
Martin said he started going to protests when he was very young and described the “occupation” movement that began at age 21 while visiting his cousins in Michigan. She said she and a co-worker sat outside alone for the first two days before others started joining them, and after the movement increased and it started to get cold outside, she realized she wanted to “be in the table” and participate in the conversations. around promotion and politics, though it took her some time to get used to actually taking the lead.
From his law school days in Albany and receiving his bachelor’s degree in communications and minor in psychology from OSU, Martin graduated with a law degree from the University of Laverne in Southern California. She said that she plans to continue working on policy in the future, as well as doing consulting work.
Martin said she is excited to speak at Albany Pride this year.
“I have a pretty good message about how often we’re waiting for someone else to do ‘the thing,'” Martin said. “Because we think we don’t know, or we’re not the right person, or there is someone who knows more or has more power and [we think] they should be the ones to do it,’ and we just…let things exist.”
Martin said his speech will also cover House Bill 565 and encourage people to “be empowered to ‘get things done’ and investigate and participate in local government.
Kolkow said he and Martin started talking when he heard about her work, and he invited her to speak at his first Pride. He said that she only expected about 100 attendees at the first Pride, but they ended up with more than 1,000.
Kolkow said a part of him always knew he was different, but growing up in “really rural” Malin, Oregon, led him to come out only after serving in the Air Force. He said that during the enlistment process, he only actively read one document from the “mountains of paperwork” he had to sign: the Do n’t Ask, Don’t say politics.
“That’s when I really knew, or at least recognized myself, that I was a gay man, even though it took me years to say it out loud,” Kolkow explained.
Kolkow said the 1990s and early 2000s were a “very different time,” in part because of the “underlying ‘Christian’ current” that intensified after 9/11.
“I have my own religious beliefs, but I certainly don’t think they should govern the rights and human dignity of others,” Kolkow added.
According to Kolkow, before he became politically outspoken and openly gay, it was much easier to live and work in Albany, particularly once he ran for local office.
“We are failing the youth and many of our neighbors in our community, that is a fact that cannot be ignored,” Kolkow said. “There is still a lot of work to do here: acknowledging and removing the vestiges of our exclusionary present and past is a moral imperative for me and I am honored to be part of that among many others who contribute infinitely more. experience and knowledge of the many inequalities in our local communities and institutions.”
There are several Pride month events for Willamette Valley residents throughout June, including the Albany Pride celebration, as well as the first ever Philomath, Oregon, and Lebanon, Oregon Pride events.
According to Kolkow, people can participate by sending messages to Albany Pride Facebook and Instagram @albanyorpride.
Kolkow also encourages people to attend the Linn-Benton NAACP Juneteenth event at LBCC on June 18.
“LGBTQIA+ allies and the LGBTQIA+ (Caucasian) community need to start showing up more for our [Black, Indigenous people of color] community members, we absolutely owe them our partnership through action,” Kolkow said.