Oakland Pride organizers hope to have all-time high attendance this year
on September 8, 2016
The people of Oakland are set to celebrate their annual Pride festival on Sunday, September 11. This will be Oakland’s seventh annual Pride festival and third annual parade since the event returned in 2008.
This year’s festival will have 60 contingents and floats representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups marching in Sunday’s parade, which is 18 more than last year. The Pride committee is also hosting an exhibition game with the National Gay Basketball Association, which will be held on Saturday before the parade.
The festival was first celebrated between 1997 and 2004, led by former Oakland City Council member Danny Wan (District 2) and the Oakland LGBT Roundtable. Oakland City Council member Rebecca Kaplan (at-large) and others re-organized the roundtable and re-started the festival in 2008.
According to Carlos Uribe, Oakland Pride board co-chair, attendance has been growing over the years. “Last year we had over 42,000 people, and we hope to grow that number up to 50,000 this year,” he said.
This year, the festival will have four stages for entertainment. “We have a women’s stage, which focuses on female-identified artists,” Uribe said, “a community stage—which is exactly what it sounds like—it is a bunch of different local artists and folks in the community. In addition, we have a Latino stage for Latin artists that are popular to the LGBT Latino community.”
The main stage will feature R&B singer Deborah Cox, whose debut album earned her an American Music Award nomination. She also received the Out Music Pillar Award for fighting for human rights and equality. Lisa Lisa, another R&B singer, will also perform. She is a two-time platinum album winner who has had two number one singles on both the R&B and pop charts.
This is the third year that the rebooted the festival will have a parade. “We are a relatively new organization,” Uribe said. “The parade was added few years ago, because as we growing it was a great next step for our activities.”
The festival will have a children’s and family area, as well. “We are one of the most family-friendly Pride festivals in the country, with a large area dedicated to children and family where we are having a petting zoo, face painting and rides,” Uribe said.
Polly Pagenhart, programs director of the Our Family Coalition, said that most queer spaces are designed by adults with adults in mind, and are not places where you would take kids. “Club culture is still a big part of the queer experience of being a gay adult,” she said. “LGBT people, when they start to raise kids, are often faced with having to let go of queer community and culture in order to have an appropriately enriching experience for their kids.”
The nonprofit Our Family Coalition supports and educates LGBT families with kids and promotes inclusivity.
Pagenhart believes that many LGBT people get “heterosexualized” when they have kids. “By that, I mean ‘presumed to be heterosexual,’ something that many of us don’t anticipate as a part of our parenthood,” Pagenhart said. “But it is, given how relatively new queer parenthood is to most folks.”
According to Pagenhart, LGBT parents live all around the bay area and have and can use the festival to bring all LGBT parents together and introduce their kids to the Bay Area’s rich gay culture. “LGBT parents, they are still culturally queer,” she said. “And it’s important for our kids to see our rich deep culture that we are part of. It’s also important for our kids to see that there are tons of other families like theirs.”
Jason Hall, vice president and regional compliance officer for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said that Kaiser Permanente is a proud sponsor of the 2016 Oakland LGBT Pride celebration because the company’s history has been about inclusion and diversity from the very beginning. “We celebrate diversity and invest in community health. We embrace equality because we believe it helps lead to a healthier, happier community,” Hall said.
Oakland Pride is also sponsored by national corporations like Facebook and many local businesses like PG&E, the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A’s and BART.
The Oakland Pride Parade kicks off 10:30 a.m. at Broadway & 14th Street. The festival opens at 11 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. The main entrance is located at Broadway & 20th Street. General admission to Oakland Pride Festival is $10, children under 12 is $5. For more information, go to Oakland Pride website.
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