Tacoma-Pierce County’s annual pride celebration known as Out in the Park is taking it to the streets this year. For the first time the event will be held in the heart of downtown Tacoma on Broadway between 9th and 11th streets (same area as where the Broadway Farmers Market is held). It happens on July 9 from noon to 6 p.m.
Already there are signs of pride afoot in the Theatre District, with rainbow banners flying from light poles in anticipation of the 10 days of events planned to celebrate Pierce County’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.
Attracting revelers from throughout the South Sound and beyond, Tacoma’s pride celebration brings out people from many walks of life to an atmosphere fit for families of all types. Considering recent changes to Pierce Transit schedules, having the event downtown will allow for easier access and make it more wheelchair accessible. There will be plenty of room for vendors’ booths and a grassy park area for the stage. Plus, all the pride festivities being planned are happening downtown so it just made sense to move Out In The Park down there as well, according to Tacoma Rainbow Center Executive Director Michelle Douglas.
“There is a lot of energy in the Theatre District. (Moving Out In The Park) fit well with what is going on downtown,” she said. Volunteers will be conducting a small survey at the event and see what people think about the move and to get ideas on changing the event name.
Taking Out in the Park out of the park will make for an even more festive atmosphere and offers more opportunities to celebrate. “I think of this as our big community event. It’s an awesome opportunity to reconnect with people you don’t see all the time. And, we’re one of the most family friendly prides around,” Douglas said.
This year’s theme for Tacoma pride – “365/253 – Pride Everyday” – is meant to communicate a vision that the city will continue fostering diversity and be a welcoming place for all people.
“We want to move toward a city that fully embraces diversity every day, not just one day,” as Douglas explained. “It shouldn’t be forgotten how Tacoma has led the way. Look at its history: Tacoma was the first city in the state to pass anti-discrimination laws.”
Tacoma pride wouldn’t be as fabulous without support from the city and from community partners, according to Douglas. “In Tacoma, we just made phone calls asking ‘can you help?’ and they did it. It’s amazing.” As of July 7 the rainbow pride flag will fly over city hall, something that not all cities are willing to do.
10 DAYS OF PRIDE
From July 7-16 there is something going on everyday in Tacoma that fits in the 10 days of pride. Some highlights (see full schedule with this story):
- Urban Grace Church (902 Market St.) will host a unifying “Ecumenical Equality Message” July 10 at 10:30 a.m.; afterward at 12:15 p.m. there will be a panel discussion on faith and equality
- A LGBT film festival with discussions afterward will be held at The Grand (606 S. Fawcett Ave.) July 11-13
- King’s Books (218 St. Helens Ave.) will host a discussion on how banning books hits particularly hard in the gay community with “A Queer Notion: Banning the LBGT Canon” at 7 p.m.
- On July 16, Oasis Youth (for ages 14-24) will hold its very first fundraising festival at Theatre on the Square park from 7-9 p.m.
And be sure and check out the action going on at The Mix pride street party on St. Helens Ave. between 6th and 7th avenues during Out In The Park starting at 4 p.m.
Sponsors of Out In The Park this year include MetMeds Pharmacy, Carol Milgard Breast Center, Pierce County AIDS Foundation and Gender Alliance of the South Sound. For more information on Tacoma’s Rainbow Center visit www.rainbowcntr.org. Out In The Park can be found online at www.outintacoma.com.