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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — One week later than originally planned due to weather the week before, the OKC Pride Alliance Pride Month Opening Ceremony finally happened in Kerr Park in downtown OKC.

And, always more than just a time to cut a ribbon and announce events, attendees this year as in years past were reminded of the significance of having open events to celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ people and the many contributions made to our society and culture.

Among others, the organizations supporting the OKC Pride Alliance Pride Month Opening ceremony were:

  • the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma,
  • the Diversity Center of Oklahoma,
  • Freedom Oklahoma, and
  • The Oklahoma City Pride Alliance

Somber notes

This year, especially, the crowd seemed to grasp the gravity of the moment as some in the state and nation are reacting even more negatively toward the queer community than in years past.

“In 2022, there have been more anti-queer legislation proposed and passed than any other time in our history,” said Ryan Tomlinson, OKC Pride Alliance President. “With that in mind, that’s why it’s more important now than ever that we come together as a community to celebrate 2SLBTQ+ culture in Oklahoma, as well as remain unwaveringly vocal in opposition to those bills and politicians who seek to strip rights away from the queer community.”

Nicole McAfee expressed similar concerns in her speech at the Opening Ceremony pointing to the political and societal challenges ahead for the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

Pride month
Nicole McAfee, executive director of Freedom Oklahoma delivers a speech at the 2022 Opening ceremony for Pride Month. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

“I do this work, because during pride month in Oklahoma, there are members of our community, working to build new cages to subject future generations of 2SLGBTQ+ neighbors to policing and imprisonment,” McAfee continued. “I do this work because as a queer person, as a non binary person, as an autistic person, I so often struggle to feel like I belong. But it’s here in this place where we’re fighting so hard just to get by.”

And, McAfee affirmed the value of the community in dealing with the strong negatives right now.

“I found folks who challenge me and hold me and love me as my full self. I do this work because I want everyone to know that same sense of belonging. I want everyone to know that they can show up as their full self without fearing they have to hide any part of who they are.”

Youth emphasis

The OKC Pride Alliance is even more strongly promoting youth empowerment in society and in the organization.

The Alliance’s Youth Committee Chair Colin Mcpherson announced several initiatives meant to strengthen 2SLGBTQ+ youth and provide needed services and support as well as events throughout the month directed toward queer youth.

Pride Month
Collin Mcpherson explains the line-up of youth events for Pride Month, June 2022 (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Mcpherson announced a Youth Panel would be held at the Pride on the Plaza event.

“The Pride Alliance will be pairing with the Plaza District, Sisu Youth Services, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Freedom Oklahoma,” and a Two Spirit youth organization to discuss “how we can better serve and connect queer youth throughout the state.”

Mcpherson closed the speech pointing to the essential purpose of the youth organization:

“Our goal now and in the future will be to expand youth involvement and create a safe space in the community for youth. This committee will be a home, a beacon of our future, and a foundation for the next generation of pride,” said Mcpherson. “The future of queer liberation starts with our youth, begins in our community, and continues through the interconnection of our voices. Together, we can accomplish anything, regardless of age. And regardless of the barriers that face us.”

After a proclamation was read declaring June as Pride Month, leaders together cut yet another ribbon launching the month, although a week later than planned.

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Last Updated June 13, 2022, 1:16 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor