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Get the glitter

Your 2019 Tulsa Pride guide

Scenes from Tulsa Pride 2018

Bhardi Verduzco

Twenty years ago, Tulsans proud of who they were and who they loved marched from Brookside to downtown’s Veteran’s Park in the city’s first officially-recognized Pride Parade. For years, the city wouldn’t grant a parade permit for a gay pride march. Before the city’s acknowledgment, resilient and resourceful gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Tulsans had picnics and held festivals—and even took to the sidewalks of Cherry Street to march in protest.

“Other people could have parades, but not the [LGBTQ+] community. We could have a festival and rent a park, but no parade until June of 1999,” Tulsa Pride Director José Vega said.

The increased visibility resulting from the community’s perseverance and fortitude has led to an increasing acceptance of LGBTQ+ people, paving the way for a better life for queer people today. The movers and shakers behind Oklahomans for Equality have been boldly fighting for LGBTQ+ rights since 1980 through support programs, safe spaces, and, of course, Pride festivals. We would not be where we are today if not for the tens of thousands of people that came before us, putting their lives on the line and dedicating ample time to acts of service for the community at large.

Vega is the youngest Tulsa Pride director in history, and he’s in the seat because he wasn’t afraid to get involved early on. “I started volunteering at the age of 21 or 22, and then I became the Pride director at age 23,” he said. “What I want is to inspire other young individuals to become active and participate. Don’t be afraid to take leadership roles, and if a big festival like Pride lands on your lap, you just take the reigns of it and try and give the community the best Pride you can.”

But it definitely takes a village, and Vega credits others for helping him find his path. “I’ve met great individuals, great friends and family, who have helped me along the way, like Toby Jenkins the executive director, so it’s really a team effort here at the Center,” he said. “Doing the promotion, logistics, all of it, it was a learning curve for me.”

Today Tulsa Pride, the longest-running LGBTQ+ Pride festival in Oklahoma, is celebrating 37 years of courage, love and pride with a parade, a picnic and plenty of music. Live music and festival celebrations kick off at 5 p.m. Friday and continue through Sunday for a weekend of vibrant fun with events for all ages; however, there are also events in the week leading up to the big jubilee that you won’t want to miss.

Visit the Oklahomans for Equality website at okeq.org to sign up to volunteer during Tulsa Pride Festival.

Tulsa Pride Interfaith Service

Tues., May 28, 6:30–8:30 p.m.
Forest Park Christian Church, 9102 S. Mingo Rd.

In 1969, undercover police officers stormed the Stonewall Inn in New York City—one of the few seemingly safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people in 1960s New York—and violently arrested dozens of people on ambiguous charges. An uprising ensued, with hundreds taking to the streets to protest the way gay people were treated. On the first anniversary of what is now known as the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parade marched through Manhattan, setting a precedent for thousands of celebrations now held all over the world. Join an array of inclusive faith communities and faith leaders ahead the Tulsa Pride festival to celebrate the bravery of the Stonewallers through spoken word, performance art, and iconic readings. There will be an “In Memoriam” portion of the service dedicated to members of the LGBTQ+ family who died this past year.

Movie in the Park: The Birdcage

Thurs., May 30, 7:30–9:30 p.m.
Guthrie Green, 111 E. M.B. Brady St.

Assemble your crew and head to Guthrie Green for a free screening of a gay culture comedy classic. Armand Goldman (Robin Williams) owns a popular nightclub in Miami’s South Beach where his partner Albert (Nathan Lane) stars as a drag queen in this 1996 film. When their son Val (Dan Futterman) announces his engagement to Barbara Keely (Calista Flockhart), daughter of a conservative Sen. Kevin Keeley (Gene Hackman), Armand and Albert agree to put on a hilarious front so their son’s future in-laws see the Goldmans as a tame family with respectable values. (Rated R)

Tulsa Pride Rainbow Run

Fri., May 31, 8–9 p.m.

Music and street festivities open up at 5 p.m. in time for attendees to cheer on runners in the sixth annual Rainbow Run, which invites Tulsa’s LGBTQ+ family and allies to hit the pavement and break a sweat before the Pride Night Party begins at 9 p.m. Participants will light up the streets of Tulsa with the glowsticks included in their runner’s packet (in addition to the race T-shirt and finisher medal). Runners can choose between the 1-mile fun run at 8 p.m. ($20 per person) and the 5K ($30 per person) at 8:30 p.m. Sign up at itsyourrace.com or on the day of the race at 6 p.m. for $5 more. Stick around to hear local musicians play, with headliner Icona Pop taking the stage at 10 p.m.

Pride Parade and Festival

Sat., June 1, noon–midnight

The party continues Saturday afternoon and into the night, and the Parade steps off at 6 p.m. with LGBTQ+ veterans leading the way. (Tulsa Pride estimated last year’s crowd to be more than 45,000!) The route runs from 13th Street and Boston Avenue to the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in East Village. Dozens of vendors will be along Fourth Street and Kenosha Avenue near the Equality Center, including food trucks, beer, lemonade, and various Tulsa organizations with information on their products and services. Music starts with a performance from Leonardo Martinez at 4 p.m. Laith Ashley plays at 5 p.m., and local band Carmela Hill and Double Treble coming on at 8 p.m. after the parade is over.

Picnic in the Park

Sun., June 2, noon–6 p.m.
Guthrie Green, 111 E. M.B. Brady St.

On Sunday everyone is headed back to the Green for a family-friendly picnic in the park. Bring your own basket of treats—plus extra if you want to share with your picnic neighbors! Attendees are free to bring canopies, ice chests, games, and dogs (so long as they’re on a leash). The splash pad will be on, and there will be a DJ as well as youth drag performers. “It’s going to be really cute,” Tulsa Pride Director José Vega said. “Some of them, it’s their first time doing drag.”


Outside of official festivities, there are countless opportunities to celebrate Pride around town. On May 30, The ReVue is hosting opening night for the Remembering Stonewall photography exhibit presented by local photographer Woofie Hoover. Photos of one of the most historic events in queer history will be on display at the bar through June 2. The opening night reception kicks off at 8:30 p.m., and afterward the stage opens up to anyone willing to take the mic to express their pride. Drag performers will take the stage at 10:15 p.m.

On June 1, the Woody Guthrie Center is bringing singer-songwriter, author and activist Ani DiFranco to the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The 8 p.m. show is set to start after the Pride parade. DiFranco, an outspoken feminist and unapologetic bisexual woman, released her first album in 1990 on her own record label and just published a new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream. The Grammy-award winning musician plays a fusion of folk, punk, jazz and soul. Tickets are available for $45 on the Woody Guthrie Center website.

Also opening during Pride on June 1, Liggett Studio is presenting the second annual Tulsa Erotica art show. The exhibition opening night is from 5–9 p.m., and the artwork will be on display through July 6. Artists were invited to submit both visual and performance art, so long as it is intended to stimulate sexual feelings.

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