It is with great disappointment and a great deal of consideration that I have made the decision to cancel Keizer Pride Fair for 2022. This decision is a result of safety concerns stemming from recent events held in Keizer.
It has been made clear through the actions of local leadership and law enforcement that the vulnerable in Keizer are not protected when threatened.
During last year’s Pride, bigoted, hateful individuals attempted to interrupt the event, called the “RV Saltshakers”. This group drove up from the Rogue Valley to protest our small, community celebration. They were held back by the community congregating and forming a barrier, drowning out their screams of hate. Some of their members snuck into the crowd, filming faces of children and families that were completely unaware. Police were called by this group when we attempted to keep them out, and while police superficially appeared to remove these individuals from the scene, recordings later show officers stating that they “agree with” the views of those doing the harassing, but we had too big a crowd. This group of aggressors then “doxxed” me, posting my personal information, as well as a photo that included my children, on the internet to demonize me and threaten me. This was when I had security cameras installed in my home, and had to make a plan of whom to call if unwelcome parties arrived.
Not months ago, right wing extremists, white supremacists, and bigoted groups (listed as “The Reawaken America Tour”) who echo the anti-queer rhetoric of last year’s intruders were welcomed into Keizer. Groups known for harmful and exclusionary religious practices were not only present, but have since been invited to the Mayor’s prayer breakfast. City leadership expressed that Volcanoes Stadium has the freedom to host whomever they choose, and that free speech cannot be limited, despite hate speech being an exception. Those who protested on the day of the event were met with excessive police staff performing unnecessary traffic stops. This behavior was recorded within the sermons of many church leaders present, church leaders who preach anti-LGBTQIA propaganda, as well as support of white supremacist organizations.
As the organizer of this event, a queer, Black resident of Keizer, the parent of two trans youth, I do not feel that I can in good conscience risk exposing my beautiful queer community to any possible harm or hate. I know that this is upsetting, and is a decision that I have been wrestling with for several months now, but I have nothing left to trust but my gut, and it’s telling me to pause. For complete transparency, all funds that have been raised ($360 thus far) will be held in reserve for a possible celebration next year.
So what can we do to make next year different? Speak up. Speak up consistently, attending local Keizer City Council Meetings, Community Diversity Engagement Committee meetings and push for actual change. Complete and total honesty, THAT is the support that is needed right now. Write or call EVERY member of the Keizer City Council, especially the Mayor. They can be reached here : https://www.keizer.org/city-council. The following are a list of possible questions, seeking to better understand the council’s actions :
How do these council members feel that they have contributed or are contributing to providing safe, hate-free spaces in Keizer?
Mayor Clark included several pastors from the “Reawaken America Tour” event in her prayer breakfast, pastors who preach anti-LGBTQIA propaganda. How can such leaders be trusted to be objective and represent all its citizens?
For residents of Keizer that don’t feel safe calling Keizer Police due to some of their recent interactions, what solutions or additional options will the city council work towards providing?
Aside from the Community Diversity Engagement Committee, what active steps has the city of Keizer taken to support their Inclusivity Statement with action?
Do council members believe that Keizer is a safe and inclusive place for queer people, and why or why not?
Ask council members how their selected Community Diversity Engagement Committee member is representative of the diversity of Keizer.
Keizer Pride Fair is more than just a singular day of labor and effort. Events like Keizer Pride Fair require safe spaces, spaces that have been prepared and defended by allies in the community, not solely who exist within the marginalized. For next year to be a possibility, we need a private venue, not associated with any harmful organization or group (this includes the police station), without religious affiliation, that is secure and has parking available. Allies, I encourage you to work hard this year so that your queer community can celebrate freely and safely next year.
The Radical Prom to benefit Free Fridge Salem will still be taking place on Monday, June 6th from 7-11pm. Tickets for this event will be on sale on Monday, May 9th, at a Bake Sale! More information can be found on Instagram @freefridgesalem. This is a great opportunity to support a local organization working towards food security in our community. Ticket sales will ensure the safety of those in attendance, and the celebration will take place in Salem, rather than Keizer.
Again, I cannot find enough words to express the deep disappointment and regret that it has come to this decision. Thank you to those who understand the valid concerns that were weighed, and I look forward to finding a way to celebrate together, safely.