Hedbloom walking in parade 2017 (copy)

Sharyn Hedbloom waving the Pride flag at Astoria Pride Parade in Astoria in 2017.

Early June is an exciting and colorful time to be in Astoria, as it’s the annual Astoria Pride Festival, hosted by the Lower Columbia Q Center.

Last year’s festival boasted a packed weekend of events that included a champagne reception and “gayla,” a parade along the Astoria Riverwalk, a dance party at the Astoria Arts and Movement Center, and a Saturday block party celebration.

Festival performances from belly dancers, choirs, drag queens, storytellers, dancers and musicians provide an array of local and regional talent.

The festival is the major annual fundraiser for the Q Center, which was founded in 2014 by Tessa Scheller to create a resource for the LGBTQ community and allies. The center holds a number of support groups and programs that connect with this mission.

In 2016, the organization sponsored Astoria’s first annual pride festival, and each year it has grown into a bigger, better community event. Like national Pride events, each year, members of the community use pride parades to raise awareness about the history of the LGBTQ community and societal discriminations which have been endured in the past, many of which have yet to be remedied.

In June 2018, Astoria Mayor Arline LaMear signed a proclamation designating June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.

The June calendar date is a tradition dating to the 1969 riot following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City. The annual events encompass the ideals of the larger struggle for fundamental human rights.

The festival drew more than a thousand participants last year to celebrate equality and diversity and support the local LGBTQ+ community.

If you’d like to join people dressed in the colors of the rainbow celebrating through a dazzling display of the performing arts, mark your calendar for the first week of June to join Astoria’s Pride celebration.

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