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News / Northwest

‘Love who you want to love:’ Spokane Pride Parade celebrates love, acceptance

By Garrett Cabeza, The Spokesman-Review
Published: June 9, 2024, 2:55pm

Covered head to toe in rainbow-colored clothing, Grant Ogren cruised Saturday through downtown Spokane in a blue Ford Mustang, acknowledging the thousands of people cheering and waving rainbow flags on the curbs and sidewalks.

Ogren, executive director of the Spokane AIDS Network, served as Spokane Pride Parade’s community grand marshal.

Classic cars, motorcycles, a procession of Jeeps and LGBTQ groups and allies — all decked out in rainbow designs and clothing — followed Ogren through the one-hour parade that weaved through the north end of downtown before emptying into Riverfront Park where booths, stages, drag performers and beverage gardens continued the Pride celebration. Pride Month is celebrated in June across the globe.

“That was exciting being in the front,” Ogren said of participating in the parade. “I’ve never seen it from that direction, so it was kind of cool to actually see it from inside of a car and experience it all versus being on the ground trying to pay attention.”

No protesters or related issues were reported at the parade, according to Spokane police Lt. Terry Preuninger.

Ogren’s rainbow attire included shorts, a suit jacket, glasses, LEGO earrings and a necklace, a black hat with a rainbow heart, colorful shoes and a wristband that said, “LOVE IS LOVE.”

“This is how we show we love each other and we love Spokane,” he said of the parade.

“And everybody is invited to this. … It’s for everybody, so everybody should enjoy it.”

Following the color guard and a “LOVE ALWAYS WINS” rainbow flag held by a couple of people, dozens of people marched down the street holding an enormous Pride flag.

Spokane Public Library representatives held “FREE PEOPLE READ FREELY” signs in the parade.

Spokane Indians baseball mascots Otto, Doris the Spokanasaurus and Ribby the Redband Trout could be seen wearing Pride flags as capes after the parade at the park.

Calvin Rapier stood on Stevens Street near Main Avenue waiting for the parade to start. It was his first time attending the Spokane Pride Parade.

“It’s good to see a lot of people out here to celebrate people like me,” said Rapier, who is gay.

He said he hoped attendees came away from the event with an open heart and acceptance of others.

“I think we all should come together, not fight each other,” Rapier said.

Sisters Shawna and Victoria Callaway, who both sported rainbow paint on their cheeks, came to support their sister who was in the parade.

They said they also attended to stand for people’s freedoms and equal rights.

“Love who you want to love,” Shawna Callaway said. “Be you.”

Various LGBTQ booths, like Trans Spokane, PFLAG Spokane and North Idaho Pride Alliance, the latter of which hosted Pride in the Park last weekend in Coeur d’Alene, were stationed at the park.

Ogren, who said he’s a proud, married gay man, said Spokane AIDS Network’s booth conducted HIV testing.

“Love your neighbor,” Ogren said. “There’s too much hate in the world. We all need to practice more love, less hate.”

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