By MEGHAN GLOVA
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
“You are welcome here.”
That’s the message Out Central Oregon wants to help local businesses share through a sticker that customers will see before they even step inside.
“To me it’s just a sign as a customer that hey, this place is making a very public statement that they will be welcoming to me and to people like me,” Jamie Nesbitt, Out Central Oregon president, said.
The sticker is a part of the advocacy group’s Local Business Unity Campaign.
Out Central Oregon volunteer James Gray came up with the idea after Central Oregon Pride was canceled. Gray was seeking a new, visual way to celebrate.
The sticker, designed by a Portland artist, is a unique take on the pride flag, which is now known as a “progress flag.” The flag includes specific colors to represent the transgender community, indigenous community, people of color and the Black Lives Matter movement.
So far, close to 300 stickers have been handed out in Bend alone.
“As far as the LGBT community, we — much like people of color — we’re a marginalized organization,” Nesbitt said. “We’re a marginalized community. And I think the flag represents that. It’s really representing all marginalized individuals.”
Bend skate shop Tactics was one of the many businesses to receive a sticker. Store manager Bobby Chapman says now more than ever, it was an important thing to be displayed.
“Seeing everything that’s going on, we realized how important it was to show that we are willing and ready to accept all customers,” Chapman said. “Regardless of who they are as people and make sure they feel welcome here.”
It’s not just businesses; city agencies are also showing their support. The Bend Police Department is sporting a sticker, which Nesbitt said he was excited to see.
“That’s saying look, you know whether we’ve done things perfectly right or not in the past, we’re open to learning more, we’re open to being part of what you guys are doing,” Nesbitt said. “We’re having that conversation within our own department and now we can have that conversation with our community.”
More stickers are still in the works to be dispersed locally and statewide.