Pear Blossom permits gay rights group into parade

After initially denying Southern Oregon Pride entry into Medford's Pear Blossom Festival, organizers decided Wednesday to allow the gay rights group to march in Saturday's parade, said Gina DuQuenne, SO Pride president.

"I'm feeling happy that we are able to march," she said. "What saddens me is that we had to go through all of this back and forth just to be able to march in a parade that happens right here in our community."

Pear Blossom organizers have not explained why the gay rights group's application to participate in the Medford festival for the first time was initially denied, DuQuenne said.

Darcey Mann-Self, president of the Pear Blossom Festival Association, did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, DuQuenne said Mann-Self called her Wednesday morning and apologized for initially excluding Southern Oregon Pride from the parade.

"There has been no explanation at this point," DuQuenne said, "but Darcey did apologize. I'm hoping we can use this to build bridges and create understanding."

DuQuenne said Mann-Self told her that the parade's executive committee met and decided to allow the gay rights group to participate in the festival.

Before the festival decided to allow Southern Oregon Pride in the parade, Mann-Self told local news station KOBI that "if the board decides that something doesn't quite fit, then that's the way it is."

"There's a parade for them in Ashland," she added. Southern Oregon Pride held its first gay pride parade in Ashland last October.

DuQuenne said those remarks felt unfair, because it appeared Southern Oregon Pride was being treated differently than other festival entries because of the cause it represents.

"That was really kind of a slap in the face when that was said," she said. "We would like everyone to recognize us as human beings."

Dozens of Southern Oregon Pride members and their supporters plan to march in the parade Saturday, carrying a 31-foot rainbow flag, DuQuenne said.

She hopes the experience will help break down barriers.

"One thing that I am very, very adamant about is being able to break the stereotype and show people acceptance and love and that we are all the same," she said.

Southern Oregon Pride invites any community members to participate in its parade march, DuQuenne said. For more information, visit the group's Facebook page or

"We're hoping people come out in droves," DuQuenne said. "When we marched in our first Southern Oregon Pride Festival last year in Ashland, we had temples and churches — all our allies, straight, gay, all came out. We're hoping the same will happen this Saturday."

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-708-1158 or

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