Standing in Monument Square among a soggy but enthusiastic crowd that was ready to march in the Pride Portland parade Saturday, Michael Patterson wore a rainbow tutu, rainbow socks and a big smile under his umbrella.

Patterson took in the turnout.

Despite a constant rain, there were thousands of people who attended, comparable to last year’s parade when there was lots of sunshine.

“I’m here to show pride and support for our community, and for the great city of Portland,” Patterson said. “Nothing can dampen the spirit of Pride. Look at all the people here. The streets are lined. There’s a lot of energy.”

Nearby, Wendy Chapkis smiled, holding a yellow umbrella and a sign that read: “Not Made of Sugar. Won’t Melt in the Rain. Queers are the Rainbow.”

Wendy Chapkis of Portland holds a sign that speaks to the resiliency of Pride parade-watchers and participants on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon in downtown Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Along the parade route there were loads of smiles, cheers, rain gear and umbrellas. The parade participants showed energy and color. Their rainbow flags seemed even brighter than normal against the wet, gray streets.


The hourlong parade started at Monument Square, proceeded along Congress Street, turned down High Street then onto Park Avenue, ending at Deering Oaks. A soggy celebration continued at the park with a festival.

Justine Ravenscroft of Pride Portland, the group that organizes the annual parade celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, said more than 120 organizations registered to be in Saturday’s parade. Most showed up, with only a handful of groups bowing out because of the weather. “It’s a really great turnout. People came out in the rain. It’s going to be a good day,” Ravenscroft said.

The annual parade is important, said the tutu-clad Patterson, “given what’s happened nationally relative to (anti-LGBTQ+) legislation happening in a variety of states. It’s really important to get out, make sure our voices are heard. To be vocal and show ourselves.”

At least 474 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been proposed in state legislatures across the United States, with Texas and Oklahoma leading the way with 51 and 35, respectively, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Four anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in Maine.

But Maine has also moved to expand protections for the community. On Friday, a bill passed in the state House of Representatives that would codify into law a rule enacted four years ago that requires MaineCare to cover gender-affirming treatment.

Patterson said he is a gay man who’s lived in Portland since the mid-’80s. “Maine can be a welcoming state,” he said. “It’s become even more so.”


All ages marched and cheered for the parade participants. Groups represented in the parade included churches, the post office, the Coast Guard, L.L. Bean – with its famous boot vehicle – Wex, Avesta, the Portland Museum of Art, Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Curbside Queens drag performers, vibrant dancers from Hustle and Flow and more.

A Pride Portland parade participant blows a kiss to the crowd gathered at the intersection of Congress and High streets on Saturday. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

When the organization Portland Outright marched by, members chanted: “Trans rights! Hell yeah!” People lining the street joined in with the chant.

Leading the parade was Dykes on Bikes. The motorcycle group is an annual staple.

“This is a huge commitment to gay Pride. We’re all here out in the rain,” Margaret O’Connell of Norridgewock said. “It says we’re really passionate about representing gay Pride.” It’s important to be visible, she said.

“Since Trump has been in office, there’s been a lot of negativity,” she said of the former president. “We’re not going to stop what we believe in just because of the temperature that’s out there.”

Lisa Guay of South Portland and Anne Perron of Poland said they’ve been with Dykes on Bikes in the parade since the ’90s, when it was considered risky to show themselves as gay. “We’d ride, but be afraid,” Perron said. “People were hated back then. They used to throw people off bridges or beat them up.”


She noted the stigma associated with the AIDS epidemic and how attitudes toward LGBTQ+ people were far different then than in 2023. “But we marched anyway,” she said.

The political climate today is still heated, but there’s more acceptance and love, they and others said.

A Pride parade participant on Congress Street on Saturday. Some attendees said the crowd seemed nearly as big as last year’s, when the sun was out. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Mike McVetty of Windham wore a shirt that showed off how proud he is of a gay child who recently came out.

Maryclare Castoro of Scarborough watched the parade on Congress Street, delighted that so many people braved the weather.

Wearing rainbows painted on her face, Castoro said Saturday was “a wonderful day. Even in the rain, it’s so Prideful and beautiful. I thought there wouldn’t be as many people. I’m really glad. There’s almost as much as last year.”

Castoro said she was impressed by how many straight people, whom she called allies, turned out to show support. “It’s wonderful,” Castoro said. “I can’t wait to come next year.”

Petricia Coates of Westbrook wore a ruffled dress of soft pinks and blues. Like others, she said more people attended than she expected.

“People on Facebook were worried it was going to be canceled. But now everybody’s out and seem to be having a great time. We need to let people know we’re here,” she said.

Staff Writer Randy Billings contributed to this report.

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