Spokes Council report-back and need for clarification

Occupy Detroit

Occupy Detroit (Photo credit: Cocoloco Photography)

Thanks to valuable feedback and input from all those who participated in last night’s Spokes Council discussions on Occupride. We also thank the OPDX Radical Anti-Capitalist Caucus (RACC), Sexual Assault Survivors’ Advocacy (SASA), and RumorZ for their expressed support for this event (although most of the RumorZ crew will be up in the forest for the Occupy-Rainbow-Cascadia convergence for the week).

As predicted from ongoing online discussions, this remains a highly controversial action and there has been no consensus on official Occupy Portland support. Good, valid concerns were raised from all spokes represented.

We will be further refining this event to deliver a precise and accurate message as appropriate, and further work on tactical issues to ensure that Occupride will be a positive experience that would ultimately bring everyone’s passion to the human rights issues for the marginalized, non-mainstream queer people whose experiences of oppressions go beyond mere inability to get married or join the armed forces.

We also join with Occupride NYC (Occupy Wall Street) in solidarity to stand up for CeCe McDonald.

The Occupy The Pride Portland organizing group and any information coming out of this group concern only the Occupride party/outreach/teach-in that is planned to occur on Sunday, July 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Waterfront Park. I have been informed of a few other radical queer actions during the Pride weekend, including the all-ages dance party in Southeast Portland on Saturday, but I would like to make it clear that each and every action is autonomously planned and organized independently of others, and while some individuals may on their individual capacities be involved with more than one actions, they are not coordinated under any single organizing umbrella. As in many Occupy-related actions, they are highly decentralized and diversified.

Also it has come to my attention that this year’s Pride NW parade and festival are sponsored primarily by local businesses and organization, with notable “big corporate” exceptions including Portland General Electric (publicly traded: POR), Alaska Airlines (publicly traded as Alaska Air Group: ALK), Sheraton Hotel (a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, publicly traded: HOT), and Nike (NKE).  It must also be emphasized that in the parade, it is the workers who are employed by companies such as Nike and PGE (whose “GALE Force” employee group is a long-standing annual tradition, testifying to PGE’s demonstrated commitment to a workplace friendly to many lesbian and gay employees), and it is never our goal to go after the workers, who are part of the 99 percent and deserve our solidarity and support.  Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and other similar businesses may, however, be present at the festival as paid vendors, and US Bank will be part of this year’s parade (number 84), but they are not formal sponsors this year.

In order to keep Occupride on the positive note, it is being designed as a passive presence of outreach.  In other words, we will be there, possibly with signs or banners, to signal that the radical queer Occupiers stand in solidarity with the queer 99 percent.  We engage in conversation only if and only when anyone stops by and initiate a conversation.  We don’t go out on our ways to hand out fliers, etc.  Due to the potentials for negative spin by mainstream and Gay Elite media, we will have to proceed with extreme caution in this regard.

All this aside, Occupride is our Pride first and foremost.  We don’t feel — however the “good cause” Pride NW purports to be supporting through the “suggested donations” — that we have to celebrate our Pride in a fenced-in area that resembles an outdoor shopping mall with so much commercial vibe, glorification of seemingly “Only One Way to be Gay and that is to Pay to be Gay,” and alcohol consumption going around.  So we celebrate it instead in an Occupy-style “parkupation.”  So we call radical queers, allies and friends to join us.

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