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OKC Pride Week honors LGBT couples and families and longtime equality activist Bob Lemon

The 2013 OKC Pride Week, themed “The New Normal,” will host a series of events this month including the 26th Annual Pride Parade. Photo by Darla Shelden.
The 2013 OKC Pride Week, themed “The New Normal,” will host a series of events this month including the 26th Annual Pride Parade. Photo by Darla Shelden.

By Darla Shelden
Contributing Writer

The 2013 OKC Pride Week, themed “The New Normal,” will host a series of events this month culminating in the Great Plains Rodeo on Memorial Weekend.
Festivities kick off on Friday, May 17 with the Pride Block Party, from 7 – 11 p.m.

The event features live performances, a DJ, food vendors and biergartens on “The Strip” at 39th & N. Penn.

That evening, The Boom, at 2218 N.W. 39 St., will host an all you can eat Crawfish Broil & Beer Bust for $20 in advance, $25 at the door, from 7-10 p.m. All proceeds benefit OKC Pride.

New this year, on Saturday, May 18, OKC Pride will open the 2013 Festival with the Love is Love marriage equality rally at the Myriad Gardens, 301 W. Reno Ave., from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Take a stand with us,” said Jeremy Crites, OKC Pride President. “Show Oklahoma that your love is as worthy as any other and deserves the same rights and recognition – and that love is love.”

The event will honor Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) couples as they gather with friends to demonstrate their support for legalizing love and gay marriage.

Matt Harney, OKC Pride Board member and Education Committee Chair said, “Not only is this a special day for the couples involved, but we hope to show elected officials and the public that the commitment of same-sex couples is no less valuable and loving than that of opposite-sex couples.

“While 11 states (and counting) have legalized marriage equality, Oklahoma still bans it,” Harney said. “We see the recent unanimous vote in the Oklahoma House supporting the Defense of Marriage Act as a shameful act of bigotry. This makes the efforts of OKC Pride all the more crucial.”

Following guest speakers and recognition of Oklahoma’s LGBT couples, the Love is Love event will culminate in a mass commitment ceremony for those who wish to publicly proclaim their relationship.

Event organizers say, “All couples are welcome. Gay, Straight, Poly. Come one, come all.”

Registration options range from $10 – $50 per couple. All registered couples will be entered into a drawing for a romantic getaway.

Performance artist Sonja Martinez said, “I think we are lucky to have a President with the brave conviction to mention gay rights in the inaugural address. Obama said: ‘Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.’

“Things are changing and it is an exciting time. I was not sure I would see this in my lifetime.”

On Saturday the OKC Pride Festival will be held at downtown’s historic Film Row from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. The daylong event will feature artists, vendors, social organizations and food booths as well as a children’s area sponsored by local churches.

On Sunday, join over 30,000 attendees in the 26th annual OKC Pride Parade, which steps off at 4 p.m. It will take the traditional route starting at Memorial Park at 36th and Classen Boulevard, heading west on 39th Street.

This year’s Pride Parade Grand Marshall is longtime Oklahoma City gay rights activist Bob Lemon.

Born in Shattuck, Oklahoma, in 1929, Lemon describes his late wife Mary Lou and himself as unabashed liberal Democrats, who believe all people are entitled to both equal protections under the law and universal respect as children of God, particularly regarding sexual orientation.

Lemon says, “I am totally convinced that there is nothing wrong with homosexual people. They’re not broken and they don’t need fixing. But what does need fixing is the attitude of a lot of straight people with respect to gays. I pray to God the day will come when people will respect all of God’s children, not just some of them, but all of them.”

The Parade Party takes place on 39th Street from 12 – 8 p.m., featuring food, vendors, live entertainment and a children’s area with crafts and games next to Expressions Community Center.

S&B Burger Joint will be donating 10 percent of their Tuesday, May 14 sales to the S&B Burger “Pay It Forward Benefit” for OKC Pride.
In addition, on Friday, May 17, from 5 – 7 p.m., Cimarron Alliance Equality Center, 5613 N. May Ave., will host the PrideTini Complimentary Happy Hour with refreshments and guided facility tours.

On Saturday, May 17, from 9 – 11 a.m., the Equality Center will provide a free breakfast before heading downtown to the Pride festival.
Also on Saturday, from 6 – 9 p.m., The Herland Pride Picnic, at 2312 N.W. 39 St., will feature hamburgers, hotdogs and entertainment. Tickets are $7. Call 405-521-9696.

On Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., the Equality Center gift shop will be open for last minute needs before the Pride Parade such as rainbow flags, bracelets and stickers. To learn more, call (405) 495-9300.

Lastly, the 28th Annual Great Plains Rodeo, hosted by the Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association, takes place May 24 -26 at Oklahoma State Fair Park, Barn 7.

“President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality is up there with JFK’s 1960’s demand for the end of racial discrimination,” said Joshua Sauer, Cimarron Alliance board member and former OKC Pride president. “Since Obama’s affirmation, public support for marriage equality has grown even more.
“That said, it will take years before Oklahoma’s legislature catches up with the rest of the nation. During this time, as Oklahomans and supporters of diversity, we must carry the torch for equality. We can do this through events like OKC Pride’s Love is Love event and Cimarron Alliance’s Equality Run in June.”

For more information about OKC Pride call (405) 466-LGBT (5428).

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