To the Editor:
On June 4, Philomath saw what may have been our first-ever official pride event at Philomath City Park. Despite the rain and mud, dozens of local residents, elected officials and community partners showed up to express their identities, show their support and build fellowship. This event was profound to me in many ways — not only because it would have been almost unthinkable here even a decade ago.
The organizers of this event deserve enormous credit for taking on this challenge and establishing what will hopefully become a longstanding tradition. Seeing this town grow into a kinder, more welcoming and more inclusive place is an incredibly rewarding thing to witness. It gives me hope for the future, as we work to rectify injustices in our past. Philomath has not always been a safe and welcoming place for our queer neighbors — and while we still have much more work to do, seeing this bold and unapologetic recognition is a huge step towards making Philomath the best place it can be.
We are a proud logging town, built on natural resource industries and on our storied history of education. There seems to be a common misconception that rural communities like ours cannot embrace inclusivity and equity. I hope this weekend has helped disprove that notion — we can, and must, embrace all members of our community — folks who have always been here, making our town stronger and more vibrant. We can appreciate our rural, timber, frolic-and-rodeo heritage while also building a loving and inclusive future.
So, to every member of Philomath’s LGBTQ+ community: there are so many people in this town who love you. You are valued, you are respected, and you are loved. Thank you for being exactly who you are — you make our town better every day.