The 2018 Pride Portland Steering Committee has introduced modest new measures to strengthen the event’s focus on people without eliminating the possibility of profit. The proposed policies are reasonable and minor, leaving me perplexed and disappointed by the overreaction of a vocal minority who oppose them.

By limiting “swag” – branded materials designed to carry logos more than serve a need – the committee achieves two goals: It makes Pride more eco-friendly (most swag becomes trash), and it makes corporate sponsorship a secondary versus a primary feature.

This is an important distinction, one entirely missed by those who find the policies business-unfriendly. We can’t get stuck on the flattery of being embraced by a business community that once shunned us. Yes, it’s a sign of progress, but it’s no reason to let the idea that we are a “market” overpower the idea that we are a people – a diverse people, who need to be witnessed as such (especially when trans people and queer people of color still fight for a place at the table).

To present ourselves primarily as a “market” is to subject ourselves to predation in the light, which is hardly better than the predation in the dark our movement so long suffered, and suffers still in many ways.

It’s not wrong to want a profitable business, but it’s irresponsible not to notice how quickly a community of your neighbors can become a consumer niche. Welcoming Pride sponsorship, but slightly reducing brand presence, is how we queer Portlanders can honor our business partners while not letting profit rule. It’s a way to gently remind them that we are people first and consumers second.

As a queer Portlander away at school, I plan on returning for Pride, to celebrate in this spirit with my friends. To celebrate, and to keep fighting.

Joe Pinto