by Ledge Slater, official DP jock
Wednesday, March 15th, 2012,
(PORTLAND, OR) —Portlanders were once again saddened and shocked by the apparent lack of participants in Portland’s third annual “Agoraphobia Pride Day Parade” Sunday.
Residents braved rain and chilly temperatures as they gazed upon the completely blank parade route where marchers and demonstrators usually would have thronged. Portland has reserved a day of celebration for its agoraphobic community every year since the 2009 suicide of city commissioner and agoraphobic Patrick Corrick shed a spotlight on the disorder.
However a city–sponsored parade for those suffering from the imprisoning anxiety condition has once again not produced the turnout organizers and spectators had hoped. Parade attendees Maurice and Carmella Domingo expressed their disappointment to reporters.
“With all the closed streets and banners, TV crews, the thousands of cheering bystanders just waiting to shower these people with endless, frenzied attention, you’d think it would have drawn out at least one agoraphobic,” said Carmella Domingo, 35. “…We’re a very open society now. Disorders like agoraphobia aren’t scorned or ignored anymore. Yet when we give these people a chance to come out and celebrate themselves, no one ever shows up –for the third year in a row. Just tell us what we're doing wrong, agoraphobics; what are we doing to drive you away?”
Some of Portland’s admitted agoraphobics agree with Domingo. “I’m aware the city spent a lot of money and effort, and (organizers) spent a lot on permits and advertising,” said online insurance broker and agoraphobic Daniel McPherson from his home in Alameda. “But…uhh, you know, I just kinda felt like staying in today.”
“There’s stuff that needs to get done around the house,” continued McPherson, 39. “I got that leaky pipe to fix, there’s laundry, my cat, Mr. Whiskers needs to have his claws clipped, then there’s that special coming on Discovery. I’m just in a ‘home mood,’ you know?”
CONTROVERSY: Agoraphobia Pride Parades: A Wise Investment?
With opinions like McPherson’s and the Domingos’ apparently on the rise, some city council members are threatening to cease issuing permits for future agoraphobic pride parades. Citing the now third year of zero attendance by any agoraphobics, Portland city Councilman Jonathan Lee is spearheading an effort not to host any more public agoraphobic-aimed events.
Said Lee to reporters after Sunday’s failed parade, “It costs the city a lot of money to close these streets and for the extra police and mandatory EMS crews. And more and more of that money is seeming like a waste if none of the people it is meant for show up. I think it’s time (Portland) allocated this money and manpower more wisely.”
However parade organizers, such as Oregon Agoraphobia Alliance President Jaclyn Feers say that any attempt by the city to halt its public agoraphobia celebrations will be met with stiff resistance.
Said Feers to Duh Progressive via phone interview, “The OAA will not tolerate the city shutting the door in our face…even our own doors. Even though not one agoraphobic has shown up to attend the last two –now three– parades, not funding or recognizing our events would be an injustice, a gross case of discrimination against those with this behavioral disorder.”
“With the growing acceptance of mental and anxiety disorders, the law is increasingly on our side,” added Feers. “Councilman Lee and others who want to stop this event can expect legal action if they try.”
Council members such as Lee and Representative Amanda Fritz are remaining steadfast in their efforts to defund and man the parades.
“So, let me see if I have this right: the agoraphobic groups want us to keep spending the scarce funds and personnel we have on these parades, even though no one is ever going to show up? Is that what I’m hearing here?” said Fritz Monday.
But Feers insists that if legal action does come, she and fellow agoraphobia advocates will put up the “fiercest of fierce battles” in court, just as long as the proceedings could be teleconferenced from their living rooms.