In its 30th year, the OKC Pride Parade provided another big, colorful, loud celebration of happy differences.
OKC Pride Parade organizers reported 110 different groups who applied for a spot in the 2017 event.
It’s no longer called the “Gay Pride Parade” as it was in its earliest years.
The name evolution reflects a move away from the common binary thinking of the 1950s through the 1980s where men and women felt compelled to identify as either “gay” or “straight.”
Free Press visited with several people in the crowd who all had unique approaches to differences.
The contrasts with earlier gay/straight thinking are most evident among those in their 20s, like Aline Thomas who we found among the animated spectators.
She was happy to go on the record for our interview.
Now in a relationship with a man, she was, not too long ago, in an eight-month relationship with a woman.
“I truly loved her,” said Thomas. But her parents had a hard time with it until they broke up.
It was then that she saw the value of personal connections with someone who is different.
“My dad saw how broken I was,” Thomas said. “Then, he understood that it was a real feeling for me and was true.”
Thomas said that then her quite conservative father was able to see “that love doesn’t just stop at a man and a woman.”
She, and her friends Jodi Travis and Anna Snell, said that they were there out of support for their gay friends.
Travis said that it was important to be there not just for the fun in the usually playful atmosphere of the yearly parade, but to make a statement of support.
“I think people should be accepted for who they are. It’s shouldn’t matter. If it doesn’t affect your life I don’t understand why you’re so offended by it,” said Travis.
Aalaa Ubeidat drove in from Weatherford to the OKC Pride Parade for the first time this year.
“My best friend is gay,” she said about why she was there.
“And I have a lot of gay friends back where I live in Weatherford,” Ubeidat said. “I support equality.”
Anna Snell was there out of support, too.
“I’m here because it’s important to support my gay friends and show them that I’m with them. They are not alone,” Snell said.
One startling aspect of the parade for people unfamiliar with a broader spectrum of differences is how flamboyant some of the drag contestants are as they pass by and playfully interact with the crowd.
But, the drag contestants are people with their own stories, too.
We talked with Kinney Monroe whose drag pageant name is “Ivy Tran.” It’s been a good year.
Monroe said the “newcomer” designation was for those who are just starting in drag contests.
It gives more access to those first stating out so they are not competing with those who have years of performance and pageant experience.
“I won every category except interview. But it’s taking me to a national pageant and I’m excited. It’s my second time competing. As a newcomer, you only get three years.”
Monroe now goes on to the national newcomer pageant to represent Oklahoma.