Oakland Pride is one of the biggest events in Oakland centering the Celebration, Representation, and forms of Resistance of the Queer and Trans People of Color. Every year, it draws thousands of folks from the surrounding cities and cities afar. Whether they come for the incredibly diverse crowd it draws or just searching for a place that feels safe and accepting, Oakland Pride is the type of Pride that the Kapor Center dreams of. Centering people of color and bringing together people from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds to celebrate yet another year of successful resistance and advancement of our QTPOC communities.
The 1st Year Anniversary Open House and Celebration of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center kicked off Oakland Pride weekend. The Center opened last year on Sept. 7, 2017 thanks to the invaluable work by Jeff Myers, their current Board President, and Joe Hawkins the Executive Director. The center currently has a calendar filled with different programs and services such as support groups and activities (searchable on the MeetUp app) and it offers a list of different services available to its attendees.
All of the work they have put into the center, from inception, creation, and keeping the doors open all year to all of the volunteers putting in countless hours to support all of the resources the center provides to the community was the perfect reason to celebrate! The day of the Anniversary Open House and Celebration, community members, volunteers, local government representatives came together to honor all that is and makes the Center great! From Drag Queens emceeing the event, tours of the Center, Drag performances, to showcasing local queer artists, the Open House and Celebration was definitely one to remember and set the foundation for the many anniversaries to come.
At the Kapor Center we know that representation is important. It confirms the beliefs and feelings of belonging and desirability that can lead to a stronger sense of self-confidence and self-love; Oakland Pride provides and affirms that.
The Oakland Pride Parade was a beautiful representation of what a strong, beautiful, and resilient LGBTQ+ community looks like. The parade had participants from a variety of diverse walks of life. There was a representation of the strong and resilient Black queer community, the Latinx queer community, QTPOC, API queer community, etc. and allies/accomplices alike; all coming together to show that we, QTPOC, are loved.
For me, this was most felt as soon as I walked into the festival and heard the sounds of banda in the distance. I can still remember the first time I attended Oakland Pride and saw a banda playing on the Latinx Stage. It was such a powerful moment to see this type of music played in a queer space because for so long, I had only heard it in spaces I associated as being homophobic. I heard it at home, in the Mexican countryside, and at family functions where I had previously experienced varying degrees of homophobia. Places where I had to hide my queerness to be safe. Hearing the banda brought tears to my eyes because for just this day, two of my identities found harmony. Seeing and knowing that these two pieces of my world could cohabitate meant so much to me, gives me hope for a day when I or others like me don’t have to hide their queerness in geographically rural and traditional spaces.
After the Parade, Oakland Pride continued into the larger unifying event, the Oakland Pride Festival. The festival hosted many booths from local organizations doing amazing work to support the LGBTQ+ community such as Truvada awareness, HIV/STI testing, and other great services. It also hosted several stages (Womxns, Latinx, Community, and Main Stage) that hosted a variety of performers and artists joining together to support and show their love for the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing all of the community members, QTPOC, allies/accomplices, organizations there to support and center the queer community was truly amazing.