PRIDE Pride allies 

This year’s Oklahoma City Pride event features a green zone to make families feel more welcome.

Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone features children’s activities including face painting. - BIGSTOCK.COM
  • bigstock.com
  • Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone features children’s activities including face painting.

Oklahoma City Pride

Friday-Sunday

39th St. District
NW 39th Street between Classen and Youngs boulevards
oklahomacitypride.org
Free

Oklahoma City Pride features even more colors at this year’s festival. In addition to the standard rainbows and glitter, this year’s Pride will have a “red zone” and a “green zone” to help ensure festivalgoers have a positive experience.

Inside the green zone will be family-friendly activities such as Glitter Alley and facepainting, while the red zone will feature the more adult-centered aspects of Pride.

The red zone will be in the area carwash owned by The Boom! The gated area will create a partition, though people are free to come and go as they please and the area is not enforced by checking IDs.

Lauren Zuniga, director of Oklahoma City Pride Alliance, said part of the reason is due to the new presence of cannabis dispensaries this year.

“We have several dispensaries that will be participating, and even though a medical card can be issued, we felt like it was helpful to have them in kind of an adult area,” Zuniga said. “We’ve also had so many requests over the years of making things family-friendly. … We wanted to be able to create a little bit of curation there.”

Zuniga said that while it is important to create a space where all feel welcome, it is equally important not to infringe on others’ freedom to express themselves how they choose to.

click to enlarge Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone includes family-friendly activities and treats such as snowcones. - BIGSTOCK.COM
  • bigstock.com
  • Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone includes family-friendly activities and treats such as snowcones.

“The mission of Pride is to allow unapologetic expression of your gender and sexuality,” said Zuniga. “Our job as the Pride organization isn’t necessarily to accommodate folks that are just not used to Pride and are uncomfortable with it. If there’s things that allies are uncomfortable with when it comes to the gay community because they’re not familiar with the culture or there’s things that people are uncomfortable with maybe because its such a religious city, now might be a good time to ask yourself why.”

However, some in the community think the current climate created by such expression is inappropriate, especially where families with young children are concerned.

Zuniga even received a letter from a concerned community member asking her to ban all kink-related material from the parade.

“We want to allow space for that expression and freedom and also keep in mind that this is a family event that people bring their kids to, so we’re hoping to have something for every kind of person,” Zuniga said.

As she organized the festival, she was careful to ensure the changes she proposed did not compromise the original spirit and intent of the event. As part of preparing for the event, Zuniga went through old newspaper clippings from The Gayly to find inspiration.

“I saw an old advertisement for one of the first [Pride] that called it Glitter Alley. That’s one thing we’re including this year, is we’re turning that alley into Glitter Alley again," she said. "We’ll have some fun things back there like coloring, glitter and snow cones.”

In addition to providing separation around the more adult-centered space, Zuniga is also focusing on other ways to make the festival easier for families to enjoy.

There will be an area next to Penn Automotive with other family necessities like changing stations and a nursing area.

Zuniga is looking to bring in investment and cooperation from all sides of OKC, not just from those within the LGBTQ+ community.

Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone features children’s activities including coloring. - BIGSTOCK.COM
  • bigstock.com
  • Oklahoma City Pride’s green zone features children’s activities including coloring.

Sen. Kay Floyd has sponsored a shuttle to take people to and from the festival to avoid the parking nightmares that often accompany such large events. This will make Pride more easily accessible to families with small children or others with mobility problems.

“Programming is figuring out, What do people need? What do we use at Pride? and How can we improve that experience? … It’s about figuring out, What can we afford to do to make space and accommodate these needs?” Zuniga said. “We had a need, and we figured out how to fill it.”

She said part of making an open and inclusive space is creating an environment in which allies feel welcome.

“We absolutely need ally support,” said Zuniga. “We need allies to be at Pride. We love allies to be at Pride. We absolutely want allies to be included and feel like Pride is theirs as well because a thriving LGBT community in Oklahoma City is good for everyone.”

Visit oklahomacitypride.org.

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