This year's annual Pride Festival in downtown Oklahoma City may mark a milestone for the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Now in its 25th year, the festival has moved from a less glamorous area of town into the footprint of the Devon tower and the restored Film Row district downtown.
For Joshua Sauer, the move marks a significant step toward full integration and acceptance in a state known more for its social conservatism than its acceptance of the gay community.
“The first Pride Festival ever, we were literally fighting the (Ku Klux Klan),” said Sauer, who serves as vice president of OKCPride, the nonprofit group that organizes Pride Week.
“This city and this state are not as bigoted as people think,” he said. “Over time, it just gets better, and people start to realize we're normal people just like anyone else.”
Perfect sunshine set the scene Saturday for the kickoff of Pride Week. A parade at 6 p.m. Sunday leads to movie nights throughout the week. The event will culminate with two days of rodeo, May 26 and 27.
Saturday's itinerary included plenty of eats, shopping and live music. Nearly a dozen acts performed on a large stage, including belly dancers, a pair of magicians and spoken-
Pride Festival marked as much a rallying point for the gay community's politics and other causes as it did a celebration, Sauer said. Workers at one tent offered free health screenings, including an HIV test. At another tent, voter registration cards were distributed.