Photos: OKC Pride Week events celebrate community, family and inclusiveness

Pride flags are held from the crowd during the 30th Anniversary OKC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Pride flags are held from the crowd during the 30th Anniversary OKC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Oklahoma City Pride marked three decades of celebration, inclusivity and resistance during OKC Pride Week events June 23-25 in and around 39th District.

This year’s OKC Pride Week theme was “30 years of resistance.”

“To me, resistance means living my life authentically and refusing to get down no matter how hard they try,” said Pride attendee Alex Cargo.

Weekend events kicked off the afternoon of June 23 with beer tents and a street party and continued into the night with concerts by Groove Merchants and The Bright Light Social Hour.

Saturday’s events included a street party with a family fun zone featuring inflatables, chalk drawing and free snow cones for children and a marketplace featuring Oklahoma vendors and organizations showing support for the LGBTQ community.

“We’re out here to support everybody,” Oklahoma Atheists member Elyssa Mann said. “So many members of the LGBTQ community are atheists. We’re here to let people know that we exist.”

The market was not lacking in religious representation, as churches from around the Oklahoma City area, including Expressions Church and Norman’s St. Stephen’s Methodist Church, lined NW 39th Street, sharing information about accepting and tolerant congregations with Pride revelers. Many of the churches also marched in Sunday’s OKC Pride Parade.

“[St. Stephen’s Methodist Church was] out here last year, and that’s what helped me find the church,” said event attendee Luke Richardson. “It’s a wonderful place. It’s like a family.”

Another booth was set up with a sign reading “Mama Bear: Free Mom Hugs” and provided “mom hugs” along with words of support and encouragement to everyone who wanted them. Free Mom Hugs of Oklahoma also encouraged visitors to write encouraging messages for others on Post-It notes for other festival guests to keep. Free Mom Hugs volunteers encouraged parents to love their children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Oklahoma moms are saying enough is enough,” said Sara Cunningham, Free Mom Hugs of Oklahoma founder. “The Strip [39th District] needs to be protected and celebrated.”

Weekend festivities also featured karaoke, a Dust Bowl Dolls burlesque performance and the Pulse Underwear Revue and culminated with Sunday’s massive Pride Parade.

This year’s grand marshal was Sonja Martinez. In 1984, she became one of the first biological women to win Ms. Gay Oklahoma. Martinez has worked to raise money for HIV and AIDS research since 1991. She also performs regularly at PToo Mix, also known as PartnersToo.

The parade began at N. Classen Boulevard and NW 42nd Street as floats and marchers turned onto the route, many blasting music through their drivers’ speakers. Crowds shouted the lyrics as members of organizations like University of Central Oklahoma’s Student Alliance for Equality (SAFE) and businesses like Austin-based spirits company Deep Eddy’s danced along.

Celebrants, many with painted faces and flags wrapped around their bodies, lined the parade route through its conclusion at N. Youngs Boulevard and NW 39th Street.

Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) organized a parade float in the form of a public school bus covered with multihued balloons, streamers and posters.

Parade attendee Christy Dawson said the float made an important statement by the school district.

“They wanted to show that they support our students,” she said.

Another merrymaker, Kaitlyn McElroy, said she was impressed by the number of people at the OKC Pride Week event.

“We came here on Saturday to walk around and take a look at all the tents, and it was really nice to experience this in Oklahoma City,” she said. “I come from Northampton (Massachusetts), so Pride is huge there — there’s like 20,000 people in the parade, so I was uncertain about coming to an Oklahoma Pride. … The parade was great; lots of different people were represented.”

She added that businesses and individuals had a lot to gain by attending OKC Pride Week events.

“I think it’s silly for people not to come out and enjoy it and get their business out here for the community,” she said.

The parade concluded with members of the community carrying a massive LGBTQ pride flag along the route. The rainbow-striped banner spanned the width of the street and closed out the weekend with a visual reminder of what draws the community together.

A participant in the Pride Parade rides their longboard down 39th St. while videoing the crowd on their phone on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A participant in the Pride Parade rides their longboard down 39th St. while videoing the crowd on their phone on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Two young boys sit on the ground watching the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Two young boys sit on the ground watching the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A young child rides their bike with the Bike Brigade during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A young child rides their bike with the Bike Brigade during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A participant in the parade plays a variety of percussion instruments on a float during Pride on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A participant in the parade plays a variety of percussion instruments on a float during Pride on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A participant dressed as Lady Liberty walks down 39th St. in the 30th Annual OKC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A participant dressed as Lady Liberty walks down 39th St. in the 30th Annual OKC Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A man dances doown 39th St. during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A man dances doown 39th St. during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Pride flags of all kinds are one of the biggest parts of Pride festivals and parades. They are often carried or worn around the neck like capes. (Cara Johnson)

Pride flags of all kinds are one of the biggest parts of Pride festivals and parades. They are often carried or worn around the neck like capes. (Cara Johnson)

UCO students Chelsea Been, left, and Alex Cargo stand in front of the UCO SAFE table at the Pride Arts Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

UCO students Chelsea Been, left, and Alex Cargo stand in front of the UCO SAFE table at the Pride Arts Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Planned Parenthood volunteer Bailey Ashbaker writes "I stand with Planned Parenthood" in chalk on 39th St. on Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Planned Parenthood volunteer Bailey Ashbaker writes “I stand with Planned Parenthood” in chalk on 39th St. on Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A girl dressed in tie-dye walks with the JCPenny float during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A girl dressed in tie-dye walks with the JCPenny float during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A younger participant in the Pride Parade dances to music on a float during the 30th annual Pride Celebration on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A younger participant in the Pride Parade dances to music on a float during the 30th annual Pride Celebration on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A volunteer for Free Mom Hugs of Oklahoma City hugs a girl at the Pride Arts Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The "Mama Bears" are a group of mothers with LGBTQ kids who advocate for and support the community, as well as attending events to give free "mom hugs" to anyone who may need one. (Cara Johnson)

A volunteer for Free Mom Hugs of Oklahoma City hugs a girl at the Pride Arts Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017. The “Mama Bears” are a group of mothers with LGBTQ kids who advocate for and support the community, as well as attending events to give free “mom hugs” to anyone who may need one. (Cara Johnson)

Susan Lawrence, owner of Indigo Attic in Oklahoma City, stands with staff members Aaron Riffa, left, and Matt Burdt. Indigo Attic had a booth at the Pride Art Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017 handing out free sunglasses, pens, bracelets and coupons promoting their shop. (Cara Johnson)

Susan Lawrence, owner of Indigo Attic in Oklahoma City, stands with staff members Aaron Riffa, left, and Matt Burdt. Indigo Attic had a booth at the Pride Art Festival on Saturday, June 24, 2017 handing out free sunglasses, pens, bracelets and coupons promoting their shop. (Cara Johnson)

Alex Cargo holds up a peace sign while walking down 39th St. during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Alex Cargo holds up a peace sign while walking down 39th St. during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A woman in a mechanic's costume walks down 39th St. and waves during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

A woman in a mechanic’s costume walks down 39th St. and waves during the Pride Parade on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Many OKC Pride-goers covered their bodies, and sometimes beards, in glitter for Pride on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

Many OKC Pride-goers covered their bodies, and sometimes beards, in glitter for Pride on Sunday, June 25, 2017. (Cara Johnson)

print headline: Powerful Pride, OKC Pride Week events celebrate community, family and inclusiveness.

Rachel Schaub and Megan Prather

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

Related posts

Top
WordPress Lightbox