Oklahoma City Shows Pride

Oklahoma City Shows Pride

Kieren Crawford holds up a pride flag that says “free hugs + kisses” in front of a group of protestors at the Oklahoma City Pride parade on Sunday, June 26. Photo by Ryan Naeve, The Vista.

The 29th annual Oklahoma City Pride Festival took place throughout the city on the weekend of the June 24-26 in a three-day celebration of love and equality. The festival included many events from an art festival to a parade, and even a Love is Love group wedding ceremony.

“Pride wasn’t born out of a need to celebrate being a part of the LGBT community, but as a movement to push an equal and peaceful existence,” Student Alliance for Equality Personal Relations and Outreach executive Mick Kennedy said.

The celebration kicked off  with an equality concert that featured local artists as well as icons from the LGBT community. There was a block party held on Saturday with vendors, live music and an array of food trucks from the area. The festival came to an end Sunday with the equality run at the Myriad Gardens in the morning and the Pride parade that evening.

The parade began with a silent march of volunteers holding 49 signs, each containing the name of one of the victims of the mass shooting that recently happened at Pulse night club in Orlando. This years parade featured 100 different floats, an increase from last years 20, from organizations from around the Oklahoma City area, including UCO’s SAFE. As the parade went on the rain rolled in, but each crack of thunder was met with even louder cheering.

This was also the second year for OKC Pride to host the Mental Health, Prevention and Education Symposium. The goal of this symposium was to help develop and improve professional skills and knowledge in prevention, recognition, assessment and treatment of mental health. 

Pride festivals and events took place throughout June across the nation, some containing a specific theme. The theme of the festival in Boston was chosen through vote from hundreds of community members. The theme,”Solidarity Through Pride,” was chosen to encourage the LGBT community to look at the many issues that exist in a wide range of communities and to see how they’re all intertwined.

“Our theme for 2016, Solidarity Through Pride, recognizes the intersectionality of identities within our very diverse community and the call for solidarity and support among all parts of our community,” Boston Pride President Sylvain Bruni said on the Boston Pride website.

 The theme “For Racial and Economic Justice” was used in San Francisco in order evoke discussion about the work that still needs to be done to ensure these justices. The festival included a forum focused on the Black Lives Matter movement.  

The overall goal of Pride each year is to have a moment of unity in the LGBT community as well as to take a stand against discrimination, oppression, and violence. The first Pride parade took place on June 28, 1970 in New York City.

This parade was held one year after the Stonewall Inn Raid, a police raid that happened on the morning of June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in the Greenwich Village in New York, which had become an important part of the underground gay community. The LGBT community had grown tired of the continuous raids and held strikes that played a large role in propelling the modern LGBT movement, the Stonewall Riots. It was decided that an annual event should be held on the last Saturday in June in remembrance of the demonstrations of 1969.

“Personally, Pride is a time to feel accepted,” Kennedy said. “It’s a time to be active in the community while having fun and networking for endeavors throughout the year.”

With the recent tragedy in Orlando, members of the LGBT community find it more important than ever to stand together in celebration and remembrance of how far the community has come as well as how far they have left to go.

“Pride is even more important than ever this year due to the recent crimes towards the LGBT community,” Kennedy said. “While we have moved forward over the years we are hit with regular reminders that we have a long fight ahead of us. Showing up to Pride reaffirms that we are not backing down.”

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