For Oakland LGBT crowd, pride takes many forms
on September 7, 2010
An eclectic mix of families, young couples, and scantily-clad merrymakers donned their Sunday best as Oakland turned out to participate in the city’s first major gay pride celebration in six years.
Since 2004, a lack of funding and a void in leadership put a temporary end to the city’s pride festivities, which started in 1997. But in 2010, Oakland’s first lesbian city councilmember, Rebecca Kaplan, spearheaded the resurgence of LGBTQ activism in the form of a new organization, Oakland Pride.
With the birth of the organization came the plan to hold Oakland’s first annual Pride Festival, a street fair-style event friendly to both party-seekers and kids of all ages. Vendors lined the streets of Uptown as a crowd of more than 50,000 festival-goers enjoyed the sun-filled day. And despite a particularly tense year for California’s gay community, the throngs ate, drank, and danced in front of multiple stages.
Proposition 8, the divisive California ballot measure that altered the state constitution to make marriage legal only for man-woman couples, remains in legal dispute in the U.S. apellate courts. Still, the tone at the festival was overwhelmingly hopeful, with a pointed focus on the participants’ family values and a palpable excitement surrounding the return of the celebration to Oakland.
Kaplan, who is running for mayor in November, was on hand to discuss pride and her city. “Oakland’s LGBT community is the most diverse in the nation,” she said. “We have the largest population of female-female households. We have more families with kids. We have larger ratio of people of color. So, it’s really important to see the Oakland community coming together in its own way.”
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