PORTLAND, Ore. — An estimated 4,000 Portland area residents on Sunday gathered in the rain to hold hands on the Hawthorne Bridge as an act of solidarity with two gay men who were allegedly attacked on May 25 for doing just that.
Demonstrators packed into the space beneath the west side of the bridge at about 7:30 p.m., spilling over onto the ramp and stairs to hear from the attack’s survivors, Brad Forkner and Christopher Rosevear. Afterward, the crowd filed down both sides of the bridge with hands held. Despite being tightly packed together, some attendees could not fit on the bridge.
More than 2,800 people had responded that they were attending on a Facebook page for the event. More than 1,200 were “maybes.” The demonstration was organized by BRO, Q Center, Cascade AIDS Project and Pride Northwest.
Pictures don’t do this event justice — watch this video:
On May 25, Forkner, 23, and Rosevear, 25, told investigators they were attacked by several suspects while walking hand-in-hand in Waterfront Park, adjacent to the bridge.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams, who is openly gay and addressed the crowd on Sunday night, said last week, “Any two people in Portland should be able to take a walk, hand in hand, without fearing for their safety.”
The Cascade AIDS Project has launched a campaign on their Facebook page encouraging people to hold hands in public.