Columbia Gorge Pride Alliance will host its annual Pride Weekend June 29-30 in support of and to celebrate the LGTBQ+ community, as well as to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

The weekend is packed with activities ranging from a parade through downtown and a festival at the waterfront to a fun run and drag brunch.

Dillon Borton has been chosen as Grand Marshal. Borton, born and raised in Hood River, is AVP Branch Manager of Key Bank. He went to elementary and middle school in Odell and received his high school diploma at age 15 through a homeschooling program.

A1 Pride Dillon Borton mug.jpg

Dillon Borton

“One of my favorite quotes that our CEO, Beth Mooney, said at a local town hall, is, ‘When you can bring your best and most authentic self to work every day, that is the only time where we, as a company, can achieve our vision and carry out our mission,’” said Borton in an email. “Diversity and inclusion are a top priority for the bank and it’s a category that we win esteemed awards in year after year. I’m so proud of the work we do at Key.”

Borton is married to husband Angel Reyes, whom he met while serving as a past Columbia Center for the Arts board member. The two have been married since May 2017 and came out together earlier that year.

“We were both raised in conservative, religious households here in Hood River,” Borton said. “Being authentic and honest about who we really are as gay men didn’t seem like an option in our minds to say or admit to, ever. That changed after we met each other. Prior to meeting each other, we both accepted the fact that we would spend the rest of our lives not telling the truth about our identity, the truth that we knew about ourselves from as long as we can remember, as little kids.”

But the two found courage together, deciding that even if the world rejected them, it wouldn’t matter because they had each other.

“Some of our biggest fears on how people would react when we did come out became a reality,” he said. “We suffered a lot of losses, but we also gained more than we ever thought was possible. The ability to be honest about what makes up your DNA and to tell the truth of who you are — to be able to say out loud, ‘I’m gay,’ although the scariest thing we thought we would every have to say — it was like being freed from death row and given the opportunity to start a new life again.

“We are so thankful to everyone in our community who have loved us and supported us unconditionally,” he added. “We will be forever grateful.”

Borton additionally serves as the chairman for the board of directors for the Hood River Chamber of Commerce and, as of July 1, his role as treasurer for the Hood River Rotary will shift to president elect. He serves on the board for the Mid-Columbia Economic Development’s Loan Administration Board, where he represents the private sector.

“I feel humbled and honored to be nominated as this year’s Grand Marshal for our Columbia Gorge Pride Parade,” he said. “When you support Pride, you are supporting equality and basic human rights. You are also taking the positive stance against discrimination and violence toward the LGBTQ community.

“Stand up for Pride, opposed to shame and social stigma,” Borton said. “Come support your local community Pride parade here in Hood River and show your support. We need each now more than ever.”

CGPA will be raffling a two-person sailing adventure from Heart of the Gorge Sailing, a new business located in Cascade Locks, during all weekend events. Tickets will be available for $5 each, with the drawing happening Sunday during the Drag Brunch over Facebook Live.

For more information on Columbia Gorge Pride Alliance, visit columbiagorgepride.com.

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