OKC PrideFest is bringing back its annual bash to downtown Oklahoma City June 24-26, the second festival since its inaugural celebration on 39th Street in 2019. Organized by OKC Pride Alliance, this year’s festival will feature the signature parade, live music, vendors, drag performances and zones for family activities and health, legal and educational resources.
“Last year was pretty big, and I feel like the energy and momentum that we made is going to continue to grow,” said Ryan Tomlinson, president of OKC Pride Alliance. The expanded resource community zone, which will provide health screenings, STI testing, legal advice and resources for trans people free of charge, is part of that growth. These services supply both life-affirming care for LGBTQ+ residents and opportunities for allied friends and family members to learn more. “That’s a huge, important piece of what our event is,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a lot of work, but I feel like people need it.”
Another sign of PrideFest’s extended reach is its enlisting of international artists along with local talent. On Friday, Australian singer G Flip leads the lineup with their brash new brand of pop rock, preceded by local DJs Kiley Josey and Kora Waves.
The morning parade kicks off an event-packed Saturday. Starting at 10 a.m., about 70 to 75 participants, including floats and walking groups, will march down Walker Avenue and turn into Scissortail Park where the rest of the festivities will be held. Each year, OKC Pride Alliance selects a Grand Marshal each year to lead the parade and, effectively, the community. Gina Ortiz Jones, the undersecretary of the Air Force, is this year’s honoree.
Putting together PrideFest is a community operation, both in number and spirit. “I’m a volunteer, just like everyone else on our board and in our committees,” Tomlinson said. In addition to its 20 to 25 person planning staff, OKC Pride Alliance has recruited nearly 200 people to volunteer for the festival’s events.
Ronnie Martinez, the volunteer chair at OKC Pride Alliance, said that people 16 or 17 years old can work the festival this year with a parent-signed waiver. “Youth want to come out here and help,” he said. “And obviously, they’re leading the next generation.” Volunteer sign-ups are open throughout the entire festival, and Martinez said extra help is always welcomed.
The number of volunteers and participants shows in PrideFest’s varied inclusive programming, such as its family fun zone with face painting, games and arts and crafts. “We want people to know that families are welcome,” Tomlinson said. “There are families of queer people, same-sex couples and allies, and they belong here, too.”
There’s a lot to catch at this year’s OKC PrideFest, and Tomlinson hopes the festival will expand even more in the future and inspire more small towns in Oklahoma to hold their own celebrations. His biggest suggestion for the weekend? “Drink water. It’s going to be hot.”
You can find more information about OKC PrideFest 2022 on the OKC Pride Alliance’s website.