PORTLAND — This year’s Pride Portland! festival will include 10 days of activities and events designed to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

In addition, the event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City, often considered a galvanizing moment of the pride movement.

Organizers of the celebration also hope to avoid some of the perceived missteps and hurt feelings that resulted from the 2018 event.

In a press release earlier this year, Cybele Brandow, co-chair of Pride Portland!, apologized to anyone who felt “silenced, shamed, disrespected or unheard” during the planning for last year’s festival.

“It is my greatest and most sincere hope that we can all come together once more and funnel our efforts into yet another magnificent display of our many and diverse experiences, values, and personal expressions,” Brandow said.

On the other hand, Brandow also acknowledged the event has “grown and evolved over time into something quite different in appearance from its beginnings.”

But Brandow said the festival is still designed around “the belief that together we are stronger, and together we can raise our voices so high that even those who might otherwise ignore us cannot help but pay attention.”

“We have come a long way in many regards, and yet still have a ways to go in many more,” Brandow said.

One of the key, historic elements of the annual celebration will be making a comeback: the River of Pride flag will once again close the festival parade, which starts at 1 p.m. in Monument Square on Saturday, June 15.

The flag was brought back, organizers said, because it gives spectators a chance to be a part of the parade “and has (also) become a meaningful finale to many.”

According to the Pride Portland! website, the festival is held to “celebrate and honor the accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ movement, raise awareness of the community’s ongoing struggles, and foster an environment of inclusivity, accessibility and solidarity.”

The theme of this year’s pride festival is “Resist. Remember. Rejoice.” It will focus on remembering the Stonewall uprising and what those five days in New York City a half-century ago have meant to the LGBTQ community.

The Stonewall uprising began in the early hours of June 28, 1969, after New York City police officers raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and arrested several people. It was the third such police action in a short period of time, and led to spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community.

Brandow said organizers would strive to “recognize the efforts, courage, and leadership of our elders and ancestors, both in Maine and around the world, who have fought, and too often lost their lives, in our collective struggle to live our truths.”

Pride Portland! said Maine’s first pride parade was held in 1987. This year’s festival kicks off at 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 7, with a dance at Space, 538 Congress St.

Other events throughout the celebration include gay birding with Maine Audubon, Pride Night at the Portland Sea Dogs, and queer speed dating. The lineup also includes “The Evolution of a Revolution,” a panel discussion at the Portland Public Library, and a showing of the PBS documentary “Stonewall Uprising.”

A full schedule of events can be found online at www.prideportland.org.

The main event will be 2-6 p.m. June 15 in Deering Oaks Park after the parade, and will feature food trucks, live entertainment, family-friendly activities, a beer garden and a marketplace.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 780-9097 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

The annual Pride Portland! parade takes place Saturday, June 15, and will feature the return of the giant River of Pride flag.

filed under: