PRIDE and the County: What do you think?

The following e-mail was sent to County employees from Ted Wheeler’s office (though not necessarily from Ted himself):

We would like to invite you and your families to join us in marching in this year’s Portland PRIDE 2007 Parade scheduled for Sunday, June 17th. It is our honor to march with Multnomah County’s LGBT employee group, PRISM. The NW PRIDE Parade and Festival will be celebrating thirty-two years of bringing communities together. Visit their website for detailed schedule of PRIDE activities http://www.pridenw.org/ .

We hope you can join us.

Ted Wheeler Maria Rojo de Steffey Jeff Cogen Lisa Naito LaVonne Griffin-Valade

I myself don’t plan on having anything to do with the PRIDE Parade. Though my father-in-law is gay, and my mom is gay, I personally don’t agree with homosexuality (which is not to say that I’m shunning said parentals; indeed, we make it a point to go and see them, because even if we don’t agree with what they do, that doesn’t mean we can’t love them otherwise). If gay people want to get together and parade, that’s all well and good, I guess.

So, my point here is not to deride the PRIDE Parade. I’ve noted (somewhere I can no longer locate) in the past that I don’t like the fact that the parade is on Father’s Day, which I feel somehow, at least to me, calls some attention to absentee fatherism or something. Aside from that, I really don’t think about the PRIDE Parade at all (just like, I suspect, if there was a straight pride parade, there would be gay people who cared a great deal, but many would simply go about their existence without worrying about it). The biggest impact on my life might be to keep me out of downtown for a few hours to avoid the traffic hassles (like with any other parade I’m not attending).

My point here is to raise the issue of the e-mail. I worked at the County for about 5 years, and I don’t recall ever receiving a similar e-mail inviting me to join county commissioners at the Starlight Parade, the Grand Floral Parade, the Junior Rose Festival Parade, or any other parade. And, I suspect, if there was a straight pride parade, there wouldn’t be a similar e-mail sent to county employees.

So is this e-mail appropriate? I don’t think so, but I’m anxious to hear your thoughts…

41 Comments so far

  1. george (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 9:59 am

    wow, this post is profoundly sad. i really feel terrible for anyone that carries deep internal conflicts like this.


  2. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:05 am

    Thanks?

    Anyway, the personal bit is more directed at full disclosure. I don’t really like carrying hidden agendas into my posts, so if I have some sort of issue with something, I like to lay it out.

    The real point is to find out what people think about the e-mail itself. Any commentary on my personal situation, whether kind or mean, is certainly fair since I mentioned it, but I’d prefer you stay on the actual point.


  3. george (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    its a freaking MASTODON in the room though…


  4. divebarwife (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:18 am

    I think the email is ok because it’s basically informational, nowhere near mandatory or one of those “optional but really mandatory” events that people often get invited to by employers.

    There may be many county employees who had no idea that there even was a LGBT employee group – so this is a way of letting people know and get involved if they are interested. I don’t know for sure – but I would imagine there are occasionally messages saying “we’ll have a booth at the State Fair, we’ll be sponsoring this Fun Run for cancer, we’ll have company softball team….etc. – this is just like that.
    If you’re not interested – you just delete.


  5. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    Right, okay.

    So, the e-mail: what do you think of it?


  6. Justin (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:55 am

    I think the email comes from a good place, but might cause some controversy they don’t need. I think a lot of people who aren’t down with the rainbow might think it’s inappropriate. I just hope it doesn’t turn into another get-your-Christmas-tree-out-of-my-state-building type thing…

    Seems to me that the County might just be a little insecure about how it’s supposed to act about the LGBT community and is overcompensating by pointing out that they’re totally ok with employees attending the event. Like they’re too afraid of seeming ambivalent and they felt like they needed to take extra steps to point out they’re cool.

    I knew a black guy once who told me that most closet racists would start conversations with him by telling him that they “have a bunch of black friends back home.” Wonder if that’s the same mentality here?

    By the way, while I don’t feel the same way you do about homosexuality, I do agree that it’s a little obnoxious to hold the event on Father’s Day. By all means, have the parade and corresponding events/celebration/etc, but why try to take over another celebration?


  7. NewPDXer (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:56 am

    I personally don’t see anything wrong with the e-mail. Like someone said above there is no mention of it being mandatory or an obligation…simply a harmless invitation. I just don’t see the big deal.


  8. Himself (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:03 am

    “…even if we don’t agree with what they do…”

    It’s funny to me how it always comes down to sex for the anti-gay crowd. You never hear gay rights activists talking about sex. But for their opponents, it’s not gays they oppose, but their “behavior” or “lifestyle” “activities”. In other words, sex. You’ve got to wonder why they’re so obsessed with sex.

    But anyway, about the e-mail. I think it’s great. Here’s an employer (Multnomah County) that not only accepts LGBT employees, but actively supports them. Why the hell not? And the PRIDE parade is the one Portland parade you can attend without dealing with the real estate hassles inherent with the Rose Festival affairs. You can show up as the parade starts and get front row seats. No taping required!


  9. kelley (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:06 am

    my (public) workplace sent out invitations for juneteenth events. i don’t think anyone’s complaining about an invitation to a gathering of people celebrating who they are and the pride in their heritage.


  10. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:08 am

    DBW and NewPDXer:

    Certainly it doesn’t pose any sort of implicit “better show up” threat, which would certainly be a big deal. It’s the selective sort of promotion that irks me, I guess.

    Justin:

    I agree with you (and, I think, DBW and NewPDXer) that there really doesn’t seem to be a bad intention here.

    With regard to the thought that perhaps the County is trying to raise awareness of the LGBT group there, it’s possible. Seems when I was there, there were occasional e-mails revolving around the raising of awareness of various groups, including the LGBT group. I don’t think you’ll find many county employees (at least, those with regular access to e-mail) that would be surprised to hear about PRISM.

    I guess my biggest thought is that I don’t see why this e-mail had to be sent. I’d be curious to know if various City Commissioners advertise their attendance in various parades or activities and invite the whole employee base to join them. Especially where the e-mail is directed at promoting an event celebrating a particularly controversial subset of the overall culture, I really don’t know if the place for this communique is in the inboxes of all county employees.

    Just my opinion. George, in case you’re afraid that my elephantine inner demons are going to cause me to instantly reject and berate anyone who disagrees, rest assured that I when I ask for input, it’s a good faith effort to promote open dialogue. I like the fact that a lot of different people read and discuss the issus on the MetBlog and bring a lot of their own baggage with them. It makes for good dialogue.


  11. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:08 am

    “It is our honor to march with Multnomah County’s LGBT employee group, PRISM.”

    I know PGE employees get emails about going to the Rose Parade since their volunteers build a float annually. I got emails letting me know my company was participating in Hood to Coast. Take away the scary “OMG the gays are out recruiting again” factor and you simply have a notice that fellow employees are getting together for a public event.

    God forbid though that a government agency promote people getting along their fellow humans. Damned liberal agendas.


  12. warner (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:15 am

    My workplace routinely sends email notifications for various events or celebrations, spanning a range of groups and interests, including gay and lesbian oriented events. No one seems to mind, since they cover such a wide range that everyone can feel included in something.

    Now, if this email was the only one they ever sent, for only this event, that would probably be innappropriate.


  13. Matt Davis (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:31 am

    Did somebody just say this:

    “It’s not that I don’t like black people, I just disagree with their lifestyle.”

    Wowee…


  14. bahhumbug (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:33 am

    Ditto Warner’s sentiments.

    My previous company used to put big banners on their internal website stating that it’s hispanic/black/other minority awareness/history/pride month/day/week – help celebrate! and then have articles about how they are marketing to those specific groups and how recognizing them would increase sales. Nice. Tacky.


  15. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:51 am

    Matt:

    Don’t see that anywhere…


  16. Andyi Veruca (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 11:58 am

    You weren’t invited to the grand floral parade because the commisioners weren’t invited to march in the grand floral parade! HELLO – mind your facts before complaining about your co-workers request for much needed support.


  17. Amy J. Ruiz (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

    Rusty, I think Matt’s paraphrasing your “because even if we don’t agree with what they do, that doesn’t mean we can’t love them otherwise” sentiment toward gay people.


  18. witchtrivets (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:24 pm

    Wow, Rusty, what is this gay lifestyle you disagree with? Working full-time, paying taxes, doing volunteer work, cooking dinner, taking the bus? If so, I can see why you would disagree with it.

    As for the appropriateness of the note — it sounds like an invitation and maybe a little patting on the back for being so open to “the liefstyle.” I get a lot of e-mails from my workplace inviting me to do many things I am not so into. I just ignore them and pay attention to the ones I have to do to keep my job. And support my lifestyle.


  19. Jeremy Smith (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:30 pm

    A simple invitation to a public event where all people are welcome and may even have a good time. Did I miss something?

    “…celebrating 32 years of bringing communities together.” A neutral and noble purpose, no?

    There IS a “straight pride” parade: it’s every minute of every day of every year. It’s on TV, it’s on billboards, heck, it’s making out in front of me on the MAX between stops downtown.

    Emails are as easily deleted as they are sent. Press the button, and move on.

    You are still more than welcome to come and have fun at the pride festivities. Last I heard, they don’t shut anyone out.


  20. Lelo (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

    I think it’s entirely fine, and to be applauded, the e mail from the commissioners.

    It’s hard to only comment on that, though, when your post is so thickly padded with pretty common anti-gay comments. I would suppose you don’t mean them, and you don’t recognize them, but when you say things like “lifestyle” and use what I see as “excuses” for condoning your positions against the LGBTQ community like “my mother is gay,” it’s really hard to take seriously your concern about the e-mail when you obviously have a biased opinion regarding gay people. Frankly, as a lesbian, I am in no way interested in receiving “love even though I’m gay” from a family member. That is condescending and offensive. So forgive me for only providing you with one sentence in this comment about the e-mail topic you raise, but it seems like there are a lot more things to your post to comment about than just that.


  21. Beulah Mae (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:42 pm

    Ah, flamebaiting. In my opinion, one doesn’t ask for opinions on these things unless one is trying to be convinced otherwise.


  22. Huh? (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

    Oh no! You’ve been invited to attend something. INVITED. Oh no!

    But hey, it’s still ok for there to be a parade, you GUESS.


  23. Mark Parsons (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    You are a homophobe and bigot and your web site is now off my google home page and by the way, everyday is a straight parade and TV show and everything else. It always has been. Are you able to understand that? The email is fine, it’s an invitation and less offensive than alot of religious “invitations”.

    MArk


  24. tODD (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

    I just want to make sure that people who have no problem with this invitation would similarly have no problem with the County inviting and participating in the 2007 Fall Fun-damentalist Parade ‘n’ Proselytize Jamboree. If so, then that’s fair. But if that would raise your hackles, then why the disparity?


  25. dieselboi (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 2:55 pm

    I agree with many of the comments here. I don’t feel this post is about the email but is about an agenda. If it were just about the email, it could have been written very very differently. Instead, it is inflammatory toward a specific group of people. Would you say the same thing if Ted had invited you to a Jewish celebration or a Christian celebration? Probably not. It would have been fine. Please understand that your words above have hurt people. Was that your intention? To hurt people?


  26. Lelo (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    Newsflash for Todd;
    Being gay isn’t a religion.
    (though it’s not a bad idea: I bet it would make religion a lot more fun for us since so many religions proselytize, and organize, against us)


  27. tODD (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 3:14 pm

    Lelo: What?! Are you sure?!

    Um, I never said being gay is a religion. I just picked something equally polarizing that tends to pull from a rather opposite (or opposing) part of society to see if people were expressing their opinions of the e-mail — or the County’s involvement — or merely expressing their long-held ideas about homosexuality, regardless what the issue at hand is.

    I would hope that everyone here is honestly assessing the issue in an objective manner, asking themselves “But what if this were for a group I really don’t like?” But in case they weren’t, I asked the question myself.

    Because when we automatically endorse things that have to do with what we like (and condemn that which doesn’t), we merely reinforce our own biases. And that’s not useful.


  28. Daaaaave (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 3:23 pm

    “Please understand that your words above have hurt people. Was that your intention? To hurt people?”

    Wow. Way to treat the guy like he’s 9. You must be a barrel of laughs to hang out with.


  29. Himself (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 3:29 pm

    Todd, if the county were promoting a religious event, it would raise serious constitutional issues. I would object to it on those grounds. Surely you know the difference and are just being contrary…


  30. tODD (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:08 pm

    Himself, I’ll plead guilty to being “contrary”. But, while I am not a constitutional scholar, I’m not sure that having the commissioners send out an e-mail noting that “a group of county employees will be in the Fun-damentalist Fun Tyme Parade, so join them if you want” crosses that line. I’m sure it would provoke a lawsuit, but I’m not convinced of how it would turn out, honestly. Maybe I’m an idiot?

    Anyhow, should I mark you down for “only would oppose hypothetical situation for constitutional concerns”? Meanwhile, what if the situation was made even more hypothetical and it was an e-mail about the NAMBLA parade?


  31. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:19 pm

    dieselboi:

    I don’t think I’ve ever written a post anywhere just to hurt people. In how I wrote the post, I wasn’t trying to advance an agenda, I was trying to be transparent about where my perspective is from before going in. If I’d written “the county sent out this e-mail, what do you think?” people could’ve made all sorts of assumptions about what I thought. Instead, I laid it out before-hand, not in a particular condemning way but in a way that said I don’t think it’s appropriate from a government agency. I’m actually a bit offended that you accuse me of trying to advance an agenda; I honestly got this e-mail this morning, thought it was interesting (in my perspective) and wanted to share with others and get their thoughts. If you honestly think I go around using this venue as a way to intentionally cause people pain, then I’d ask you to simply kick me off the team.

    Mark: I hope you didn’t blot the whole Metroblog from your Google homepage because of my post. I am one of many people with a variety of perspectives who writes here. To use my singular post, raising something that I feel is a legitimate discussion topic, as a basis to disregard the other voices and opinions here (which, I’d guess, have been agreeable enough to you in the past to cause you to add it) is an over-reaction and ends up saying more about you, I think, than about the Metroblog.

    There’s a lot of equating sexual orientation to race, or PRIDE to Juneteenth, or even gayness to religion. For some people, those equations are fine. For others, they aren’t. It’s all a matter of opinion. If my opinion doesn’t match yours, that’s fine. We can agree to disagree in that regard, and we can all go on about our lives. I’m not trying to shout anyone down here. I’m asking people to give me their opinion on whether the e-mail is proper.

    I’d ask the various people that are using this as a chance to bash others to stop. Bash me, that’s fine. I wrote this damned thing. But between eachother I’d prefer that you reflect what I think our readers are: reasonable, open to conversation, thoughtful, and willing to discuss things reasonably.

    In terms of the reaction to the propriety of the e-mail itself, I’m seeing that generally people think it’s fine. That being said, I respect your opinion, and thank you for sharing it.


  32. gt (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:28 pm

    Here’s a question to ponder…
    Is the Fun-damentalist Fun Tyme group non-discriminatory? Are they accepting and open to a variety of religions, races, sexual orientation and hair color?

    My experience with the GLBTQ groups is that they ARE accepting and open to a variety of religions, races, sexual orientation and hair color.

    No one has ever made fun of me because I’m straight (not even when I marched in the parade last year). No one has tried to “recruit” or change me (ok, once I was hit on but it was in a bar and when I said no thank you, she smiled and bought me a drink anyway). In fact, in many cases, I feel a lot safer with the GLBTQ crowd, than I do a good majority of heterosexual males (haven’t yet been groped by a GLBTQ member).

    So, tell me… this Fun-damentalist Fun Tyme group… is EVERYONE welcome without judgement?


  33. warner (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:29 pm

    Thank you Rusty, for posting the email. I think it provided us with some good discussion, if you subtract the personal attacks.

    Oh, and Todd, NAMBLA promotes an illegal activity, so of course that would be inappropriate.


  34. Rusty (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:43 pm

    Warner,

    You’re welcome.

    GT,

    The sad truth that I have to admit as a Christian (don’t know if I’d be part of the Fun-damentalist Fun Tyme group, but…) is that it would probably be less accepting, and more judgmental, than the GLBTQ group. That’s an issue that many of us struggle with: how to hold true to what we believe is right while still being open and accepting of people who disagree. But that same sort of struggle is present in all sorts of groups (I suspect even the GLBTQ group). Such is human nature. I think that as long as people continue to work through that struggle that they have inside, and don’t just ignore it, is when bridges can be built.

    When I made the comment in my initial post about my mom and father-in-law, and how I disagree with their lifestyle but still love them, that does reflect part of the struggle. My mom came out of the closet when I was 30 years old, after helping raise me in a Christian home. To say that I felt hurt and betrayed is an understatement. Gradually I have worked on restoring my relationship with my mom, but it is tough. I have my beliefs and opinions, and they diverge from hers. Building a relationship that respects that and accepts that is hard, but possible. The key, though, is that we both know the other person isn’t going to change, and we respect eachothers’ differences and stances enough to continue the relationship despite them.

    So the e-mail: It discusses a parade celebrating an orientation I clearly don’t agree with, and many people don’t agree with. Many people do. The content of the e-mail is completely non-offensive. It is for the most part neutral, it is informative, and it is inclusive. All that said, my concerns relate to who sent it and to whom it was sent. It appears those concerns are, for the most part, my own. And that’s fine.

    Someone above accused me of flamebaiting. I admit that I put up posts on subject matter where I think there’ll be interest and discussion. I generally, in fact, ask people to discuss what I write. I realized when I put the post up that opinions would be strong. That said, I didn’t think what I wrote would seem vindictive or attacking in nature, and I’m disappointed that people are turning this into a chance to take pot-shots.


  35. Himself (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 4:48 pm

    Todd, you’re grasping at straws trying to come up with something the county could promote that I’d find objectionable. Keep trying. But it’s got to pass constitutional muster and be legal. So far you’re 0 for 2.


  36. Lelo (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

    I think many of us could agree that a website isn’t probably the best place for meaningful discussion around issues that are full of language nuances, religious beliefs, and self identities. With that said, Rusty I think I was pretty gentle and non pot-shot oriented in my comments, but I still find much of what you’re saying offensive. You say you were raised in a Christian home: I hope you realize that many, many Christians are gay, and that many, many Christians support, love and do not judge the LGBTQ community. In fact, one of the largest contingents marching in this Sunday’s Pride parade will be hundreds of representatives from the faith community, from all over this state. Their presence, along with PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), causes many of us to be overcome with emotion in seeing such visible support from places (religion and family) that have shunned us, or who have “loved us yet not condoned our actions” (I can barely type that statement without making a face.) I think you’d be surprised how many Christians love, support and march in support of an often attacked community.


  37. Bob R. (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 6:02 pm

    Regarding the coincidence of Portland’s pride celebration being held on Father’s day, a number of different cities have alternate different pride dates. Sometimes this is to avoid scheduling conflicts with nearby towns (for example, Corvallis pride week used to be held the week prior Mother’s day, I don’t know about the current schedule).

    Pride marches and celebrations emerged as a response to the Stonewall police raid and subsequent riots in June, 1969. That’s why most pride events usually happen around June… it has nothing to do with Fathers Day one way or another.

    See:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stonewall_riots

    Portland Pride: June 16th-17th
    Seattle Pride: June 24th
    SF Pride: June: 23-24th
    L.A. Pride June: 8-10th
    Eugene Pride: Aug 11th
    Salem Pride: Aug 4th
    Tacoma Pride: July 7th-13th
    Olympia Pride: June 17th

    (The above dates were taken from various web sites… if you are planning on attending any, please double-check the schedules.)


  38. GT (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

    Rusty –

    I commend you for being honest about the fact that many Christian organizations are NOT open and accepting and non-discriminatory (some are).

    Thus, my point was made. If the Fun Tyme group is discriminatory, it would be wrong for any public organization to promote, invite or otherwise engage in it. Private organizations can and do (albiet sometimes with protest and lawsuits) discriminate.

    Public organizations aren’t supposed to and therefore, should not participate in parades and such that originate with such groups. The Pride Parade is ALL-inclusive. Even though you have a difficult time with homosexuality, YOU would be able to march in the Pride Parade.

    My guess is that the Fun-damental Fun Tyme group would NOT be all-inclusive. In fact, I believe that as a non-Christian, I would not be accepted. I believe that the GLBTQ community would likely not be accepted. Who knows about other races (depending on various parts of the country perhaps?). Anyway given the likelihood that the Fun-damental group WOULD be discriminatory, it would not be appropriate for the County (or any other public organization) to advertise, invite or in any way, shape or form, promote the organization.

    Now, if you were talking about a group called Christians Love and Accept Everyone (including Muslims, Athiests, GLBTQ, Purple, Green and Blue people), that would be a different story.

    And yes, human nature has difficulty with those who are different from ourselves BUT overt & proud discrimination is wrong and should not be compared with groups that at least attempt to be accepting of all. Just because something is difficult and not in human nature, doesn’t mean we should strive for it if it is right.


  39. tODD (unregistered) on June 14th, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

    GT, are you telling me that if Rusty (or anyone else) marched in the Pride parade carrying a banner that said, “I personally don’t agree with homosexuality”, he’d be welcome? That the parade would include him and not discriminate against him? I mean, maybe they really would, and if so … that’s truly “all-inclusive”.

    Anyhow, lacking any specific knowledge of what people here might find personally objectionable, here are some more stabs at legal, constitutional, yet objectionable parades that people might not want the county to e-mail about or have employees participate in (keeping in mind that I’m apparently not very good at this whole contrary thing): the “Women’s place is in the home” parade, or the NRA parade. How would people feel about such parades being substituted for Rusty’s original example?


  40. Lynn S. (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

    Todd, have you actually BEEN to Pride? There are a small but determined and very hateful group of protesters who walk the parade route every year.


  41. tODD (unregistered) on June 16th, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

    Lynn, no, I’m not much of a parade person, and I didn’t know that. Guess that makes me ignorant, but thanks for clearing that up for me. I think that’s pretty cool of the parade, for what it’s worth.



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