Saturday in the Park celebrates LGBT victories

Vancouver community has seen increased freedom to appear in public

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

Published:

 
photoZachery Laneaster, 25, of Portland sports a rainbow- themed outfit during the 18th annual Saturday in the Park, an event celebrating the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Esther Short Park.

(/The Columbian)

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There was a time when Vancouver had a gay bar -- out of necessity, Brett Allred recalled Saturday afternoon while standing with his friend Mike Fair near the center of Esther Short Park.

"There's no more gay bar because we can be anywhere," said Allred, the 48-year-old owner of Beige Blond Salon downtown.

Hundreds of members of Vancouver's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community celebrated the 18th annual Saturday in the Park event with musical and cultural performances, games and a food booth and a beer garden. Vancouver's LGBT fraternal organization, Imperial Sovereign Court of Raintree Empire, sponsored the event.

Saturday's theme was "Gateway to Equality," referencing Washington's passage of marriage equality.

"We have families. We have kids. We're just like everybody else," said Maria Council, who served on the Saturday in the Park committee this year. "So this is our day in the park."

Days like Saturday have been hard-earned, participants said.

"You just got to keep coming out and being yourself," Lynn Geiger, 54, said, noting that Saturday's event was built on love.

Whereas once Saturday in the Park would have been a clamor for equality, it was clear times had changed -- for the better.

"These kind of events are not necessary (anymore)," Fair, 40, said. "It's a way to show support."

The youth of today need to know about the sacrifices that were made to bring them acceptance.

"Going back to high school -- back in 1982 -- that was a horrible time being gay," Allred, 48, said. "But kids these days have a lot of freedom we didn't have."

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.