SAFE Marching in OKC Pride Parade

The Student Alliance for Equality at the University of Central Oklahoma will join the community in marching in the 31st Oklahoma City Pride parade at noon on June 22.

The parade lineup begins at 11 a.m. and the parade goes along 39th Street to Youngs Boulevard until 2 p.m., with a festival following.

This is the 22nd year that SAFE is marching in the parade to continue to be advocates of the LGBTQ community and the struggles they face, according to David Macey, SAFE adviser and assistant vice president for Global and Cultural Competencies at UCO.

Oklahoma has no state-level protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Macey said. It is possible for LGBTQ individuals to be fired from their job or evicted from their place of residency.

According to Macey, SAFE typically has between 20-30 people march with them in the parade, but they are hoping for about 40-50 this year.

It is reassuring and encouraging to LGBTQ people, Macey said, that everyone participates in the parade to show their support because the LGBTQ community has experienced persecution throughout the years.

“Each person’s civil rights are everybody’s interest and commitment,” Macey said.

Katie Edmonson, a UCO political science student, has attended OKC Pride in previous years and said the celebration is about love and the remembrance of those who have been persecuted.

“Pride is the chance to remind ourselves and our allies that we still have to stand up against the inequalities and choose love,” Edmonson said.

The group will be posting on their social media accounts about their spot in the parade line-up for those interested in marching with them. Currently, SAFE plans on meeting at Classen Boulevard and 39th Street before the line-up.

UCO’s LGBTQIA+ Faculty and Staff Association is also marching in the parade. Many other LGBTQ college groups from the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Rose State College and Oklahoma City Community College participate in the parade as well.

Macey said UCO’s two LGBTQ groups march almost every year and SAFE has created a float for the parade in previous years to celebrate milestone achievements.

This year’s parade theme is Legends & Rebels for the 50th anniversary of the New York City Stonewall riot, which began the modern LGBTQ liberation movement, according to City Sentinel reporter Darla Sheldon.

OKC Pride’s website said their parade brings an estimated 85,000 people in attendance each year and this year is expected to bring more.

Once the parade ends, there will be a festival where those interested can learn more about the LGBTQ community with giveaways from corporate companies, local businesses and activist groups. The festival goes from 2-10 p.m. along Northwest 39th Street, between North Pennsylvania Avenue and North Youngs Boulevard.

There will also be music, food and performances on the main stage in the Angles parking lot, according to OKC Pride’s website. Macey said there will be artists selling their work as well.

The Pride celebration is under new leadership this year. Lauren Zuniga, a former UCO student, slam poet and LGBTQ activist is the event director for the OKC Pride Alliance, a nonprofit group that is overseeing planning for the parade and festival.

SAFE was created to provide service opportunities, education and advocacy around issues related to sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, Macey said.

The group also acts as a liaison between UCO’s campus community and the LGBTQ community in the OKC metropolitan area. SAFE was founded in 1989 by Dr. Louis Irving, the group’s first adviser and Glen Avery, the first SAFE student president.

Any UCO student can join SAFE and Macey said there is no membership fee.

“The purpose is to be open,” Macey said.

SAFE is annually comprised of about 12 to 15 members. The organization meets every other Tuesday night at 7 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters.

Macey said SAFE also hosts events for the campus community, such as bringing in guest speakers, having panel discussions and hosting social events like potluck and movie nights. Two years ago, SAFE hosted the LGBTQ College Summit, an annual gathering of LGBTQ students from across the state, at UCO.

The group also participates in volunteer work in the community, including marching in AIDS Walk, a nonprofit for AIDS education and care fundraiser, and working with LGBTQ homeless youth in OKC.

SAFE is under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at UCO and members are a part of Diversity Round Table. They often collaborate with the other groups in DRT, such as the Black Student Association.

The group also established the Safe Zone Ally Program, which is a group of students, faculty and staff who provide support and resources for questions asked by UCO’s community about sexuality and gender, Macey said.

For more information about SAFE and their involvement in the OKC Pride Parade, contact Macey at

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