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A mobile HIV testing unit drives in the Oakland Pride Parade

Oakland Pride 2014

on September 3, 2014

The sound of music, and the bustle of people carrying food and drinks, filled the streets this Sunday as Oaklanders celebrated the 5th anniversary of Oakland Pride. They also watched the first outing of the new Oakland Pride Parade.

Costumed marchers and floats paraded down Broadway before gathering at the main entrance to the festival on 20th Street. Mayoral candidates, as well as members of local businesses like Pandora, BART and the Line 51 Brewing Company marched in the inaugural parade. They were joined by members of arts and activist groups like Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, an advocacy group for lesbians over 60, and the Barely Legal cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, who dressed as characters from the film.

The festival spanned 4 blocks with thousands of attendees roaming the streets and looking at the booths as the smell of fried chicken and freshly grilled Hawaiian barbeque wafted through the air.

Vendors were both giving away and selling their wares. One business, the Steamworks gym and bathhouse, had a wheel that attendees could spin to win prizes like flashlights and shirts. Wicked Grounds, a San Francisco kink café, offered books, flags, stickers and fetish gear. The San Francisco Goaldiggers, a gay hockey team, sold beer to thirsty festivalgoers, some dressed in hockey gear and some in considerably less. A mobile HIV testing unit offered passersby free testing and HIV information.

Music filled the air as performers on four stages played different genres of music, including indie girl group XELLE and Grammy-nominated Sheila Escovedo, better known as Sheila E., who gave an energetic performance of her signature percussion skills.

Many candidates for the Oakland mayoral race were in attendance, speaking to festival-goers and handing out campaign information. Mayor Jean Quan, who is up for reelection, was shaking hands, posing for pictures and talking to those who stopped by her booth. Candidates Bryan Parker, a medical technology professional, Joe Tuman, a professor, and other campaigns also had booths at the festival. Speaking by phone Tuesday, Tuman described the festival as a “wonderful event—important for the city of Oakland and its large number of LGBTQ couples and families.”

In addition to hosting a booth, mayoral candidate and councilmember-at-large Rebecca Kaplan also hosted a Pride Party the Saturday before the event. The morning of the festival, the California Nurses Association hosted Kaplan at the Oakland Pride breakfast. The group endorsed Kaplan for mayor earlier this month.

Speaking on Tuesday, Jason Overman, spokesperson for the Kaplan campaign, said that Pride “means a great deal to her,” as the city’s first openly lesbian councilmember. “It’s something that she has worked on tirelessly to make sure it got restarted and it keeps going and adding to the vibrancy of our city.”

Hanna Qassis contributed to this report.

1 Comment

  1. Mayoral candidate Rebecca Kaplan | Oakland North on November 3, 2014 at 9:07 am

    […] The newly married Kaplan (she wed this summer) moved to Oakland in the mid-1990s and is now a resident of North Oakland. She worked as a housing rights attorney in Oakland and served on the AC Transit Board of Directors before being elected to the city council. During her time as councilmember-at-large, she helped facilitate a 10-year lease deal with Oakland A’s. She also worked to restart the Oakland Pride Festival, which celebrated its 5th anniversary this year. […]

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