Letter From our Chairperson
Hello from the board of RBPA.
Things have slowed down enough to reflect on PRIDE month, and several thoughts come to mind.
First and foremost; how amazing to see so many people at Portland PRIDE this year. After two years of lockdowns and feeling isolated, it felt great to be out and proud among a throng of people who believe in equality both as members of the LGBTQIA+ community and our allies.
Second; concerns we probably all have in regards to Marriage Equality after what Justice Thomas wrote in his opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade. The LGBTQIA+ community will most likely always be under attack from those parts of society who are fearful of people who have a different way of life than theirs. This isn’t exactly new to any of us, but the ramifications of Justice Thomas’ opinion are demoralizing. That being said, Mary Bonauto wrote an opinion piece in the Herald two weeks ago that gave me some solace.
Third; We awarded three scholarships this year to some exceptional college-bound students. We also officially changed the name of the scholarship program to The Betsy Parsons Scholarship. Betsy’s passion for both equality and education was legendary and deserves recognition.
Lastly; it is with mixed emotions that I relay the news that after a quarter of a century the board has unanimously approved the dissolution of RBPA. When RBPA was first created there was a need to support local LGBTQIA+ business owners, and community members, as discrimination was rampant. Portland no longer can be described as a place where that happens. By many accounts, Portland has become a beacon of light for equality. Local businesses thrive here based on the quality of what they do and not the owner’s, or employee's orientation. Thus the need for an organization like RBPA as a place to highlight local LGBTQIA+ businesses has become obsolete. If a primary reason for an organization’s existence is no longer necessary people will not engage with that organization, and it is impossible to ignore that RBPA has continued to see a dwindling in community participation. This was true before the pandemic and is sadly now irrefutable. While we are still fiscally sound, we have decided to close our proverbial doors. Once all of our accounts (web services, general phone, etc) are closed we will move/donate all of our remaining funds into the Scholarship’s investment account.
To clarify, the scholarship will live on! The board of directors for both RBPA and EQME have unanimously decided to hand over the reins of the scholarship to EQME. I look forward to watching the scholarship flourish with all of the resources that EQME has to offer.
It has been a privilege to serve on the board of RBPA. I am grateful for the friendships I have made through RBPA and the things I have learned from members of the community and the keynote speakers from the various events we have hosted over the years. I look forward to the next chapter of our community’s evolution.
RBPA Chairperson of the board of directors