At Home: Portland Pride


I took this photo in June 2015, while attending our first Portland Pride event.  This is an iPhone photo, with no filter.  My company had a float in the parade, so I went to meet some of my co-workers while everyone was getting set up.  This beauty was stretched out in front of the old US Customs House on Park Avenue in Old Chinatown, waiting to lead the procession through the neighborhood, along Burnside Avenue to the riverfront where we would all join the festival, culminating a weekend of celebrations.  Without such a large LGBTQ community, Portland has little diversity to speak of.  It is literally the “whitest” city in the US.

We had moved to the city a few months earlier, for a new opportunity which also afforded us the chance to escape the steaming injustice of the South, where I had also spent the 3-years prior advocating for the expansion of the Human Rights Ordinance in Jacksonville (it finally passed in 2017, without the mayor’s signature…ain’t that some shit?!).  Although no LGBTQ person is truly ever safe in America, it was refreshing to see friends, families, companies and churches come together to revel in the distinctiveness of each of us, after bearing witness to the painful, bitter battle to get Jacksonville’s HRO through City Council.

For all its rainbow flags, however, Portland lacks a rainbow of skin color.  As the city tries to overcome a history tainted with racism, the current wave of gentrification has pushed black and brown people even farther out of a city that claims to be open and welcome to all.  Welcome as long as you have enough money to pay the escalating rents and mortgages in a booming real estate market.  While the city has written provisions for income controlled housing into law, those units can’t be built fast enough.

For as much as we loved Portland, it became unaffordable for us as well.  With a bitter taste in our mouth, we moved back to Jacksonville.  It is nice to be in a city that is truly diverse in color and orientation, but the bigotry here is so much more pronounced, and the challenges to create equity living in a red state are harder to overcome.

Is there anywhere we can meet in the middle?

 

Yin and Yang

Last weekend I woke up groggy from two days straight of all grey clouds with no rain to speak of. What the hell is the point of clouds without rain anyway, I ask?!  Who knows, but it left me dragging ass all damn day. Fortunately, or unfortunately, we had to go to the grocery store. Once again, I was forced to put on pants and comb my hair. (If I could stay in my jammies with my hair flying wild all day, I’d be so much nicer…also possibly slightly crazier, but that remains to be seen) He reminded me that I was focusing on the negative and he was trying to see the positive in our mundane weekly task of grocery shopping.

As we were walking into the store, another couple was walking out. I did not take note of them, however, as I was too busy brooding over having to wear pants.  Scott noticed them and turned to me to ask, “were they speaking French?”  Now, there are several likely answers to this question, all of which you might be able to guess. Considering that there is a large French-speaking population here in Portland, the most obvious answer would, “Yes!”

Other likely answers you may have come up with are:

  • “No!”
  • “Who knows?!”
  • “They were speaking Spanish”
  • “Je ne parle pas Englais”

Yet, none of those are the answer I replied with. No! How did I reply, you wonder? “We need to get toilet paper.”  Of course, you say, why didn’t I think of that?! (Because you don’t live inside my head, that’s why…pffffttttt)

And there you have it, people – Scott making a positive observation, while I only cared about shit. Some days you’re the Yin, some days you’re the Yang, I’m just glad that our balance brings a good amount of humor along with it!

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Jazz for Jesus

Scott and I have been trying to explore the city as much as possible since we moved. He’s much better at it than I am, however. He’s still not working – because they want people to have a Masters Degree to qualify for jobs like waiting tables. Wouldn’t your parents be so happy to know that you blew their life savings (or your own, I suppose) only to end up waiting fucking tables?!  I’m sure mine would kick my ass, but I digress.

Saturday, I got some writing done in the morning and then we went to the Farmers Market in the afternoon. My cousin and his wife, who live just across the Columbia River in Vancouver, but whom I haven’t seen since we moved here 7-months ago (don’t judge, when was the time you called me?), were in town that evening to celebrate his birthday. I had my 3 glasses of wine, as is customary when I’m celebrating someone’s birthday (add to that 3 cucumber martinis when I’m celebrating my own), and was home by 11pm.

Sunday I spent on the couch. There was no hangover involved in that decision, mind you. Just a general morose mood that I’ve been carrying around with me for a few weeks now. These feelings are best suited for sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and watching bad action movies, or chic flics when I’m really desparate. By 4pm, Scott was able to convince me to leave the house.

He reminded me that I had told him I wanted to check out the church up the street (clutch the rosary!) because they had a sign out front that they do Jazz on the Third Sunday of each month at 4:50pm. Ugh…fine, I guess I’ll go brush my hair and put on a decent pair of pants.  As we’re headed out the door, he starts asking all kinds of questions that I don’t have the answer to…”how long is it” and “do we have to pay?”  In a huff, I retort, “Look, if you don’t want to go, just say so.”  Hurt, he replies, “I want to go, I was just curious.” Impatiently I reply, “there wasn’t any information on their website so we’ll find out when we get there.”

In typical Laura fashion, we arrived after the start of the performance.  There was a man at the door to greet us with programs titled Jazz Vespers…not a good sign…Vespers is the sunset evening prayer service in the Orthodox, Western Catholic, Eastern Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran liturgies of the canonical hours. The word comes from the Greek ἑσπέρα (“hespera”) and the Latin vesper, meaning “evening.”

As we rounded the corner, into the sanctuary, I heard a French Horn, Bass and some drums….not too bad. And then SHE started singing…in an operatic voice, Sunday Hymns….Whaaa???? I took a closer look at the program and elbowed Scott, “I think this is an actual service!”

“No shit,” he fires back….vengeance is his today…damn it!  At that point, I start giggling uncontrollably, thinking to myself, “maybe Scott is onto something with this whole asking questions thing.” Then again, I wouldn’t have ever had the opportunity to experience Jazz for Jesus. We leave the church as swiftly as we came in. I turn to Scott and say, “you know I would have stayed if she was actually singing in the same jazz rhythm of the band. You just can’t mix opera and jazz, that shit don’t work!”

“Indeed,” he replied. And this is why I love this man.