Press Release: Medford Celebrates Pride with Inclusive Event
Medford Pride is Saturday, June 11th, 12-6pm at Pear Blossom Blocks Park
Join us for a family friendly celebration of Southern Oregon’s diverse community
Location: Pear Blossom Park, 312 E 4th Street, Downtown Medford
Date and Time: Saturday, June 11th from 12pm – 6pm
Medford, Oregon – This weekend, community members will celebrate Pride in Downtown Medford. The free, family friendly event will open at noon and runs all afternoon until 6pm with food trucks, live stage performances, activities and booths from local businesses and organizations.
The event is organized by the LGBTQ+ Equity Workgroup, a community-led, cross sector workgroup hosted by SO Health-E, the Southern Oregon Health Equity Coalition. The group works to promote unity, inclusion, awareness and a sense of broad community for Queer individuals, families, and allies.
Workgroup member Shelby Lane, who grew up in Medford says “When I envisioned what a Pride event in Medford could look like, I was immediately brought back to memories of my younger self contrasted with watching my own child now. Looking back, I can’t recall ever having met an adult that reflected my queer identity. The only representation I saw was from various media sources which often portrayed Queer people in a negative light. As I got older, I came to understand that there actually were adults who shared my sense of self, but didn’t feel safe or supported enough to be out in our community. No one likes feeling like they can’t be themselves, but sometimes that’s the safest way to be.”
The goal of Medford Pride 2022 is to celebrate the diversity of the local Queer community and the people who support and uplift us. We strive to create a space for cultural, artistic, social and educational interactions which affirm, embrace, and support the lives of those in our Queer community, particularly those who continue to face oppression based on other intersecting identities. This celebration is meant to motivate, develop, support and give a voice to the Queer community and the next generation of leaders who are working to build a more inclusive, accepting, and equitable tomorrow.
“Jackson County is my home, it’s where I was raised, went to school, and now where I’m working and raising my own family, Lane says. "I love my home but there’s a history here that is important for understanding why this type of event is so important. In particular, the homophobic hate crime murder of Roxanne Ellis and her partner Michelle Abdill by their tenant here in Medford in December of 1995. Local Queer people continue to face similar shortened life spans and poor health outcomes due to the social inequities we experience.”
A fact that is backed up by data from the Human Rights Campaign which shows 2021 was the deadliest year on record for trans and gender-nonconforming people. Some point to the rise in anti-LGBTQ bills filed in state legislatures across the country as another factor undermining the health and sense of belonging for LGBTQ+ people. As of March 2022, nearly 240 such bills have been introduced across the country, a sharp increase from 41 similar bills in 2018.
For Shelby, this all leads back to the importance of this local celebration: "So, if you’re asking yourself, “why here” or “why now,” my answer to you is this: because we exist. Because we aren’t alone. Because I understand what it’s like growing up as a queer person here and I want to make it better for the next generation. We need a space to intentionally build a unified community and to show the younger generation how we can all thrive.”