This past Saturday was a whole new experience for me, and I couldn't be happier that I was a part of it.

Because despite the wind and the all-day rain (that ended up a lot heavier at times than anticipated), Portland residents and other Mainers from surrounding towns still turned out and turned up for Pride.

Townsquare Media
Townsquare Media

Pride Portland 2023

It just so happened that this Pride parade was the very first one I've ever experienced, let alone driven a station van in. For a solid hour, hundreds of Mainers did the slow roll in the rain from Monument Square down to Deering Oaks carrying signs, performing rehearsed routines, laying on a horn screaming "Let's goooooo!" nonstop (sorry about that).

In turn, the Mainers lined up on both sides of the roadway or gathered on their balconies or porches along the route were screaming back to us, holding signs of their own, hitting beach balls around, dancing around -- you name it, we were all caught up in the moment and the energy.

Mike Emery
Mike Emery

And while feeding off the energy of the parade-goers, tossing out beach balls and Pride bracelets into the crowd and dancing in the rain was all amazing (and already has me excited to be part of next year's parade for Pride Portland), that all wasn't the stand out for me.

It was a text I received from not only a co-worker but one of my favorite humans on the face of the planet, Lori Voornas, after the parade. Since Lori was walking in front of me in the parade, we interacted all throughout (not to mention blew up endless beach balls together in the rain before the parade even started.)

Because in a group text with Lori (who is very publicly out), myself, and our other co-worker Krissy, Lori sent eight words that -- for a guy that isn't a fan of feeling emotions -- made me feel every damn one of them.

Thanks for making being gay so damn fun!

Easily one of the best compliments I'll ever receive in my entire life. But also, a pretty deserving one after you've busted out some amazing hip-gyrating dance moves in the middle of Downtown Portland.

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