Thousands lined the streets of downtown Bellingham and later filled Depot Market Square on July 17. This was the first time since the start of the pandemic Bellingham held its annual Pride Parade and Festival.
The parade started at noon, marching up Granary Avenue and turning onto East Chestnut Sreet. before turning again on Railroad Avenue towards Depot Market Square. After everyone arrived at the market, the Pride Festival began, going from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Last year, a smaller pop-up parade was put together, but this year the festival returned along with a much larger parade.
A variety of different people and groups participated in the parade this year including, but not limited to the Bellingham Roller Betties, Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom Queer Film Society.
“What I'm looking forward to most is reconnecting with everybody that I haven't seen because all of us have been in hibernation for so long,” Betty Desire, the main parade organizer, said before the parade.
Desire has been involved in Bellingham’s LGBTQ+ community for years by entertaining and informing people through the publication she started in 2002 called The Betty Pages.
On Friday, July 15, Rumors Cabaret held a 20th anniversary party for The Betty Pages, followed by a Family Picnic at Boundary Bay and an all ages dance party at Depot Market Square the next day.
Many different vendors, food trucks, activities and more were featured in the festival, including a drag show with numerous performers.
“Everybody really wanted to come back together,” Meg Stephenson, a festival volunteer, said. “I really missed having a Pride here in town for the last couple years for very understandable reasons. I wanted to do more than just come, I wanted to get involved and meet people that way and it's been really great!”
“These events where we can all come together to share our love and pride for one another are important, and necessary, for queer survival,” Dizzy Phoria, one of the drag performers at the Festival said. “They teach us that we’re not alone, and we’re stronger together.”
According to a Pew Research study called “How important are pride events to the LGBT community?” around three-quarters of LGBTQ+ adults find that “pride events help make society at least a little more accepting” of the LGBTQ+ community.
“Pride was wonderful because almost all of the local performers got to be there together and showcase their unique style.” Count Dykeula, a drag king who performed in the festival, said.
Mx, another one of the drag performers in the festival, started drag around five years ago and began performing around three and a half years ago.
“When I had found drag I was at a pretty big low in my life,” Mx said. “I felt misunderstood by the world, and myself even. Seeing an art form like drag utilize almost every other main art form in this one style of performance – I was instantly enamored.”
On Saturday, July 30, Whatcom Pride is hosting a pop-up parade at noon from Depot Market Square, and later a resource fair and block party from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Kulshan Trackside Beer Garden near Waypoint Park.
“Our happiness is sacred and worth protecting and celebrating,” Dizzy Phoria said.
Will Story (he/him) is a city reporter with The Front this quarter. He is majoring in visual journalism and hoping to minor in photography. At The Front he’s focused on covering city news, events, and how Bellingham is changing. You might find him getting Turkish coffee at Ashuri or exploring the trails of Whatcom county with a camera.
You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @thatwillstory