By Darla Shelden
Celebrating their 25th anniversary, OKC Pride has organized ten days of activities celebrating Pride Week. A partnership of the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association (OGRA), Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Norman (PFLAG of Norman), Cimarron Alliance, and Church of the Open Arms will be hosting events to run from May 18 to 27.
25 years ago, the first Pride demonstration was held on the 39th Street “Strip” by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. In 2012, OKC Pride is moving to a new downtown festival location on Oklahoma City’s Film Exchange District (a.k.a. Film Row), located between Dewey and Shartel, at Sheridan.
Prior to the official kick off of Pride Week, a film screening of “Wish Me Away,” the story of Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay, will be held on Thursday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by The Oklahoma City Museum of Art and co-presented by deadCENTER Film Festival and OKC Pride. Tickets are available at www.okmoa.com. Also, on May 17, eat at either S&B Burger Joint location, 5929 N. May Avenue or 20 NW 9 Street, and OKC Pride will receive 10% of sales.
OKC Pride Week 2012, themed “Proud. Strong. United” officially begins on Friday, May 18 with a free movie. Producer and director Tim Wolff and special guest activist Albert Carey will present “The Sons of Tennessee Williams” covering 50 years of New Orleans’ gay civil rights revolution. The outdoor movie begins at 8:30 p.m. at the festival’s new Film Row venue, in the parking lot at 616-624 W. Sheridan Avenue. Pride officials encourage everyone to bring chairs & blankets for a film screening under the stars. Parking is available in the lot located at 614 W. Sheridan Avenue.
Also on May 18, from 7 to 9 p.m., the Other Options Fashion Show, A Toast to Life, will be held at 722 N. Broadway; $50 admission.
Continuing at the Film Row venue, on Saturday, May 19, a free, daylong 2012 OKC Pride Festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The family friendly festival will include live music, entertainment, food, drinks, raffles and prizes.
The festival’s stage will feature performing artists Beth Isbell; Burlap Tuxedo and Local Honey; D.D.N.T; Mont Lyon; MoonSue; the Aalim Bellydance Academy, Randy Rodgers; and Spencer Hicks and BradChad Porter. There will be non-profit exhibitors, commercial vendors and community resources available.
With more than 60,000 people in attendance in 2011, on Sunday, May 20, the 25th annual OKC Pride Parade will follow the same route as last year. The parade will lineup on Classen Boulevard at NW 36 Street, at 4:00 p.m. Judging begins at 5 p.m., and the Parade will step off at 6 p.m. The route travels north on Classen, turns west on 36 Street and ends just west of Pennsylvania at Barnes.
This year, to commemorate the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, OKC Pride is inviting current LGBT service members to march in the event as the Parade’s collective Grand Marshals. Those interested can sign up at OKCPride.org. 2012 Parade emcees will be Renee Hilton and Jezebel Banks. There will be food vendors available in the Angles Club parking lot.
On Monday, May 21, as part of OKC Pride’s awareness initiative and a sign of support for LGBT Youth who are bullied in schools, OKC Pride asks everyone to wear purple.
On Tuesday, May 22, at 8:30 p.m., a free outdoor sing along screening of the film ‘Grease” will be hosted by Expressions Church, 4010 N. Youngs Boulevard.
Wednesday, May 23, a free viewing of “Fish Can’t Fly” will be held at 7 p.m., at Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Pennsylvania Avenue. The documentary examines reparative therapy and the role of faith communities. The event is presented by PFLAG of Norman, Cimarron Alliance and Church of the Open Arms.
Thursday, May 24, at 8 p.m., “Turning Drag on its Wig,” hosted by Cimarron Alliance, will offer an evening of unlikely drag queens, at Angles, located at 2117 NW 39th Street. Emcee will be Mr. Gay Oklahoma USofA, Kelly “Keliente.” Must be 21 and $5 cover charge.
Friday, May 25 will feature various club events on the 39th Street Strip including “Wear Pink Day.”
The 27th Annual Great Plains Rodeo, hosted by the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association, will be held at the State Fair Grounds, barns 6 and 7, on Saturday, May 25 through the 27. For more details visit www.ogra.net.
OKC Pride Inc. is the single-largest LGBT organization in the State of Oklahoma. Over 70,000 people attend OKC Pride festivities each year and the organization hosts the second largest parade in Oklahoma. OKC Pride works to provide leadership to meet the needs of the LGBT community through awareness, health, and educational services.
On Saturday, June 23, the “Oklahoma Remembers LGBT Candlelight Vigil” will take place outside of Angles Club, 2117 NW 39 Street, at dusk. This event will illuminate the past 25 years of OKC Pride by remembering those lost to HIV/Aids, as well as those affected by hate, bigotry, and bullying.
OKC Pride 2012 is sponsored by: Coors Light, Miller Lite, Tecate, Boulevard Brewing Company, Anheuser Busch, Renaissance Hotel, Dell, Bob Lemon, Josh Powell, OKC Estate Sales, Access to Counseling Services, Cricket Communications, Sprint, Advance America Cash Advance, Film Row, and Joey’s Pizzeria.
For more information visit OKCPride.org.