The Oklahoma City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Festival will be held from June 24 through 26 at NW 39th and Pennsylvania Ave., said Joshua Sauer, OCCC alumni and OKCPride volunteer.
“This is going to be the biggest parade in the history of OKCPride,” Sauer said.
“More sponsors, more partnerships, and more man hours went into this parade than any previous one.”
Sauer said the festival and parade are an important part of the Oklahoma City’s LGBT community.
“It’s important so we can celebrate diversity and show our pride in a way that’s respectful.
“And at the same time, it promotes our goal of having awareness, health, and education within the Oklahoma City LGBT community.”
Mary Turner, learning support specialist and one of the sponsors for OCCC’s Gay Straight Alliance, said she agrees.
“There’s a lot individuals can learn by going to this event, regardless of sexual orientation.
“We tend to stereotype individuals and put them into very tiny, rigid little boxes (based on) what we think a particular group is; and certainly that stereotype is an aspect of who these individuals are, but it’s not everything about them.”
Sauer said the larger parade this year is due in no small part to the celebrity guests who will perform.
“We’ve got the Pointer Sisters, a hip-hop/R&B group, who will be preforming on Friday the 24th,” Sauer said. “And LGBT comedian ANT is performing on Saturday the 25th.”
In addition to the big stars, the festival will feature a variety of local and regional bands, and performers throughout the weekend, he said.
But the main difference this year will be that the festival also is a fundraiser, Sauer said.
He said those who attend the festivities will have the option to make a suggested donation of $10 toward the building of a LGBT-oriented health center.
“It’s basically phase one of it all. We haven’t even purchased the land.
“The land is going to cost approximately $150,000, and all the proceeds from the event will hopefully be enough to buy the land and get this project started.”
In addition to helping a good cause, Sauer said, those who make the suggested donation would receive discounts at the food and beverage concessions.
Turner said she believes the idea of an LGBT health center has merit.
“Certainly there are a lot of social and emotional issues that may not be as well understood and addressed in a traditional health setting.”
Turner said those who attend should do so with an open mind and be social.
“Talk to them, interact with them,” she said.
“There’s no way to tell by looking who anybody is or what they do, or what their beliefs or lifestyles are.
“If we could somehow step away from that idea that you can look at a person and know that person, I think that would be great on a lot of fronts, not just this one.”
For more information, visit www.okcpride.org.