By Darla Shelden, City Sentinel Reporter —
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Timmons has ruled in favor of disenfranchised OKC Pride Inc. board members.
John Gibbons, lead plaintiff and former OKC Pride Inc. board member seeks “relief for the significant harm caused” to himself and others by the “unlawful acts” of the three board members who dissolved OKC Pride Inc. and formed the Oklahoma City Pride Alliance.
Judge Timmons’ ruling made last Friday (March 19) resulted in a victory for OKC Pride and those who had been working to keep the annual “Pride” festivities on the historic 39th Street Strip in northwest Oklahoma City.
Brett Dickerson editor of the Oklahoma City Free Press wrote:
”The tipping point for John Gibbons and other long-term bar owners along the Strip seems to have come when the Alliance, made up of mostly a new generation of Pride leaders, decided to shift the historic parade and festival to downtown around Scissortail Park. Negotiations between Alliance leadership and Gibbons representing the 39th Street Business Association had broken down late in 2019 and later in 2020.
Gibbons filed suit against the OKC Pride Alliance on December 16, 2020 questioning the dissolution of the original OKC Pride, Inc in 2019.
The lawsuit asks for “a declaratory judgment that the attempted dissolution of OKC Pride on September 20, 2019, was defective and done in contravention of OKC Pride’s bylaws; breach of fiduciary duty; and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty,” Dickerson wrote.
Judge Timmons ordered that OKC Pride Inc. be reinstated by the Oklahoma Secretary of State, and that “all papers, assets, funds, and the name be returned to its rightful owners, that the Oklahoma City Pride Alliance cease to hold itself out as the proprietor of any of the historic ‘Pride’ festivities and parade, that any new event must be distinct and separate from the events hosted by OKC Pride Inc., and that their event must be distinguishable by any reasonable member of the public.”
Dickerson reported Judge Timmons’ ruling:
“I find temporarily on the evidence before me that the September 19th  resolution dissolving Oklahoma City Pride Incorporated was not legal, not in accordance with the bylaws, that there was no notice given to interested parties, including the people who are members, or sponsors who write a $2,500 check to be part of the parade as a sponsor.”
“I applaud Oklahoma City Pride Alliance Incorporated for doing the 2019 Parade. I always enjoy watching it. Took my kids to it over the years. And it is an important part of Oklahoma City.
“But with regard to the name OklahomaCityPride.org – that is exclusively the province of Oklahoma City Pride Incorporated, whether it’s spelled out or it’s just OKC. So I am ordering that Oklahoma City [Pride] Alliance Incorporated, cease use immediately of OKCpride.org, whether it’s OKC, or OklahomaCityPride.org because I believe it infringes on the trademark, the name and domain of Oklahoma City pride LLC.”
“I am very pleased with Judge Timmons’ decision,” said Gibbons. “Her ruling recognizes what we all knew from the beginning, and that was the law was not followed, the bylaws were violated and the assets improperly transferred away from their rightful owners.
“The historic significance of OKC Pride, and the corresponding parade and festival, to this city must continue to be represented on 39th Street,” Gibbons added. “I with the Oklahoma City Pride Alliance all the best in their future endeavors, but they need to do so on their own merits and not try and steal the history and goodwill that has been built up over the decades.”
Michael Clark, former OKC Pride Inc. president and one of the former board members represented by Gibbons in the lawsuit stated, “We are gratified that the Oklahoma courts ruled in favor of the history and community that have made OKC Pride such an amazing annual event for more than 30 years. Similar branding and marketing by this new organization has led to confusion for the community and donors.
“While many other areas have their own Pride celebrations including the Plaza, Norman, Edmond, Tulsa, Enid and now Scissortail Park; this community and OKC Pride have paved the way and will continue to stand and fight for equality for all LGBTQ2S people and celebrate our history,” Clark continued.
Hannah Royce, president of Oklahoma City Pride Alliance, Inc., told the Oklahoma City Free Press: “I gave it my cowgirl best attempt at working with them with my most optimistic hat on. I didn’t walk in there by any means trying to take over anything. I certainly am aware of the deep, deep history regarding our community.”
“We understand this ruling does not stop our organization, the Pride Alliance, from continuing on our steadfast mission of promoting diversity and inclusivity for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community through annual Pride festivities and meaningful programmatic initiatives,” Royce told The City Sentinel.
OKC Pride has announced that the 2021 Oklahoma City Pride Parade and Festival will be held Friday through Sunday, October 1-3 in the historic 39th Street District.
“We are looking forward to an amazing 2021 OKC Pride Festival and Parade in October to showcase the city’s new investment and upgrades to the 39th Street District; and will most likely return to its traditional schedule in June 2022,” said Clark. “We wish the other groups celebrating Pride and diversity success and hope to see them all celebrating with us on 39th street in October.”
Founded in 2004, OKC Pride has been the official management team of Oklahoma’s City’s annual Pride event since 1988.