BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding comments from city spokeswoman)
The Human Dignity Coalition hopes the city of Bend allows it to have a Pride Parade in the future.
On Monday, Coalition President Jaime Bowman said the organization first created a proposal for a Pride Parade in downtown Bend in 2016 and was verbally turned down by city staff.
In 2017, the organization wanted to plan a pride river float, but its idea was turned down.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community has put on the pride festival at Drake Park for over 10 years, but has never had a pride parade in downtown Bend.
"I want the city to actually be able to move forward and not be stuck in the back of the time to where everything is hidden and only come out once in a while, because I think if they open it up and are more diverse and have more transparency that the city will thrive and grow bigger," said Amanda Hutchings, a Human Dignity Coalition board member.
Hutchings said having a Pride Parade will make LGTBQ people feel more accepted in the Central Oregon community.
Bowman said the coalition didn't apply for a permit this year because, for the past two years, it has been discouraged by city staff from doing so.
"For Bend to be able to say, 'We're proud of these folks. We're proud of every single member of this community. We value you. We welcome you. We see you.' It would be invaluable to kids who are growing up in this community, who need to know their existence isn't a burden and they don't have to hide," Bowman said.
The city of Bend told NewsChannel 21 it didn't receive or deny a permit from the Human Dignity Coalition and never saw a proposal for such a parade.
Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand shared city correspondence to assure no parade permit request was denied. She also said it's not clear who the group claims verbally denied any such proposal.
"The people at the city who have authority to approve or deny permits were not involved with such a conversation," Aurand said.
"I assure you city leadership is welcoming of every member of this community, and as a Welcoming City we support inclusion and diversity," Aurand told NewsChannel 21.
Mayor Pro-Tem Sally Russell said if the city had denied the proposal, it wouldn't have been because of the organization but because of the timing.
Russell said the city sees an influx of 20,000 tourists during the summer and city staff handling other major events during the same time the LGBTQ community celebrates pride.
Last year, the Bite of Bend was held during the same weekend as the Bend Pride Festival.
"I look at Bend as a part of a larger democracy. I look at equality across all fronts for all people. I'm committed to that in serving our community, and I believe our staff and council is committed as well," Russell said.
She said the City Council passed a resolution about inclusion called "Not In Our Town," a resolution against hate.
NewsChannel 21 found the City Council did not proclaim June as Pride Month last year or last month, as other cities often do.
The Human Dignity Coalition plans on forming a march in downtown Bend during their Pride Week festivities.