Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival: 'It's about being proud of who you are'
EUGENE, Ore. -- Over the last two decades, supporters said they have witnessed a lot of change come through the gay community. It's that change that allowed same-sex couples to say "I do" in Oregon.
"To learn we could get married this year we've been waiting a long time. It's been almost 27 years. So finally we're going to get married and be a full family," said Christopher Smith, one of the hundreds at Alton Baker Park on Saturday for the annual Eugene-Springfield Pride Festival.
The Eugene-Springfield Pride event, now in its 23rd year, helped make some of that change possible. Coordinator Paul Homan said the day is about celebrating individuality, no matter who a person may love.
"It's about being proud of who you are," Homan said. "No matter what you are, who you love, you have the right to respect, the right to dignity and the right to love."
Brett Bigham, winner of the 2014 Oregon Teacher of the Year, says he's the first openly gay male to have won the award.
Bigham says that 30 percent of teens that commit suicide are gay. He's advocating for students who may struggle with their identity during adolescence.
Bigham was joined by over 50 other organizations, groups and vendors providing resources to people at the pride event.
The event had free HIV testing, which is also provided at no cost by the HIV Alliance in Lane County.