OKLAHOMA CITY — A group of people who previously made up the OKC Pride nonprofit organization until September 2019 are suing the current nonprofit named OKC Pride Alliance to get the name, money, and other assets back.
In question in a series of court filings is (1) whether a former president, John Gibbons, has standing to bring the lawsuit after the old organization has been dissolved; and, (2) if the actions of the members of the former OKC Pride board of directors acted within the law when they took actions that dissolved OKC Pride, Inc. and transferred assets to OKC Pride Alliance, Inc.
Former OKC Pride, Inc.
John Gibbons, owner of The Boom, a club featuring drag shows in the 39th Street District on The Strip in Oklahoma City, has filed the suit on behalf of himself and those who were previously in the original OKC Pride organization.
Gibbons is a former President of the now-dissolved OKC Pride, Inc. and is the current president of the 39th Street Association, a business organization formed to promote mostly entertainment businesses on The Strip.
In Gibbons’ lawsuit he argues that three board members engaged in “unlawful acts” to dissolve the OKC Pride, Inc. and then transfered all assets including “OKC’s goodwill” to a new organization, OKC Pride Alliance, Inc.
“Through this action, Mr. Gibbons seeks to undo the defective corporate acts of
Defendants, reinstate OKC Pride, and return to OKC Pride all assets,” the lawsuit states.
In the lawsuit, Gibbons is asking the court to force the return of money, the OKC Pride brand, and other assets back to himself and members of the original organization.
Gibbons is making that request to the court under Oklahoma statutes that empower a district court to declare previous actions of a corporation invalid or valid.
And, according to OKC Pride Alliance attorney, Brian Ted Jones, the crux of their defense is that Gibbons has no standing to make the demands.
OKC Pride Alliance, Inc.
The current OKC Pride Alliance is the product of a series of actions on the part of several board of directors of OKC Pride in September of 2019 after one of the biggest weeks OKC Pride had seen. Those actions resulted in OKC Pride, Inc. being legally dissolved and OKC Pride Alliance being founded. The brand logo and name “OKC Pride” along with money and other assets were transferred to the Alliance.
Their vision as published on their website says:
“OKC Pride Alliance was conceived during a transition in the local LGBTQ2S+ community. It’s inception would reflect a new generation of activism in Oklahoma City. A generation ready to continue to the fight for true equality, equity and inclusion – specifically within the LGBTQ2S+ Community.”
OKC Pride Alliance has been pushing out information about the Pride Parade and Festival being shifted to downtown at Scissortail Park since late December and early January.
The Oklahoman ran a story in January announcing a definite move from 39th to downtown as well as The City Sentinel in February. Free Press ran a promotional story Saturday using information about plans provided by OKC Pride Alliance.
All three of the publications ran the articles as positive promotions of what has been an increasingly prominent event not only for Oklahoma City’s LGBTQ2S+ Community but the whole city.
The understanding at Free Press was that the Alliance had taken the reigns of the events that have become tradition in the City. And from the wording, that seems to have been the case with the other two publications as well.
But, now, the merchants in the 39th Street District are announcing that there will be a Pride Parade and Festival there as well. The district website has promotional language calling their event “The official OKC Pride on 39th.”
Monday, John Gibbons contacted Free Press, first by message and then by phone, responding to our report about the upcoming parade and festival. In his initial text he introduced himself as “…John Gibbons with Okc Pride…” and said he “…would like to clear up a little Confusion (sic).”
In the phone call, the courteous Gibbons said that any group could hold a parade and festival anywhere in the City that they wanted. But, the parade and festival in the 39th Street District would happen as it had in the past.
There is not much evidence of an objection from the 39th street merchants who made up the core of the previous OKC Pride, Inc. until the new OKC Pride Alliance started making plans at the end of 2020 to shift the Pride Parade and Festival to downtown around Scissortail Park.
The 2020 Pride events were held virtually online for a weekend with no parade or festivities along The Strip because of the raging pandemic at the time.
Gibbons’ lawsuit was filed with the Oklahoma County Court Clerk December 16 after what Gibbons describes in the lawsuit as attempts to resolve the issues between the former members of the former OKC Pride, Inc. and OKC Pride Alliance, Inc.
A virtual hearing is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. before Oklahoma County District Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons. There are not signs at present that the judge will allow the public or the press to listen in.
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Last Updated March 17, 2021, 7:11 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor