Sunday, May 13, 2012

On Being Excited About OKC's LGBT Citizens 2012

According the sponsoring organization's press release, 2012's OKC Gay Pride events kick off on Thursday, May 17, and last for ten days until May 27.
A rather lengthy discussion and review of LGBT issues and the history of the Gay Rights Movement was done last year in On Being Excited About OKC's LGBT Citizens 2011, and I'll not be redundant here. Click the link if you want to read an article which is more historical and delves into some of the legal issues faced by the LGBT community in Oklahoma and elsewhere.
This piece focuses on the 2012 activities and events of the LGBT community, as well as mentioning a couple of newsworthy items which occurred after the 2011 article was written.

Newsworthy Items Since 2011. I'll mention a couple of such events — (1) last week's remarks by our President and (2) our City Council's actions in the latter part of 2011.

      1. The President's Remarks. Aside from a remote but nonetheless interesting possibility of an attack on the new and fabulous Devon Tower by a group of Lesbian Zombies (just kidding), nothing could probably have been better timed than the remarks by the President of the United States last week on May 9 concerning gay marriage. Listen to the President and judge for yourself:

President Obama's Remarks On May 9

      2. Oklahoma City Council Votes To Protect Sexual Orientation in its Personnel Policies. On Tuesday November 15, 2011, the Oklahoma City Council voted 7-2 to approve a resolution which protected gays and lesbians in the hiring, firing, promotion, demotion of employees in one of the city's largest employers, the City of Oklahoma City.

A complete discussion of the November 15 council proceedings is here. The discussion began on October 18 when council member Ed Shadid wondered out loud why Oklahoma City didn't have such approbations in place concerning its city employees and suggested that he would be bringing the matter up soon ... the next day, on his Facebook page, he said, "Next Tuesday I will introduce resolution prohibiting discrimination among 4300 city employees based on sexual orientation." On October 25, he did just that, even though the matter was deferred until November 15 for decision. During the October 25 discussion, council member Patrick Ryan indicated that he wanted the continued hearing date to be at a time he would be present because he supported Shadid's resolution — his support caught me by surprise. As to some in the Christian conservative persuasion, Shadid said, "I would propose that we let the city be the employer and let God be the judge." His complete remarks at the November 15 meeting are shown below.

Ed Shadid's Remarks On November 15, 2011

Only two, council members Larry McAtee and Skip Kelly, voted against the proposal. The strongest support came from council members Pete White, Patrick Ryan, and Gary Marrs, who voiced their support for the proposal. Although voting for the resolution, Mayor Mick Cornett and council members Meg Sayer and David Greenwell chose to remain silent during the discussion and said nothing at all. Read into that silence combined with affirmative votes whatever you will. Opponents Larry McAtee and Skip Kelly did offer explanations for their negative votes.

Amazing Array of 2012 Events. I won't list all events here — you can get that from the official press release, at the 2012 OKC Gay Pride website and at Scott Buttram's piece at For those who want even more reading, see the 60 page Pride Guide, which not only describes events but delves into the history of the LGBT community. Since I've already given my own lengthy history last year, here, I will only single out the following events which struck my fancy the most.
  • Pre-parties On May 17. At least, that's what we called such things back in the day that I was a student at Oklahoma State. Two events are scheduled for Thursday, May 17, even though the official opening event is scheduled for May 18.
S&B Burger Joints — 10 am - 11:30 pm. On May 17 between 10 am 11:30 pm, eat at either S&B Burger Joint, a business that supports OKC Pride, and Pride will receive 10% of all sales. The two locations are 5929 North May and the newest at 20 NW 9th in Automobile Alley.

Oklahoma City Museum of Art — 7:30 pm. Co-presented by deadCENTER Film Festival and OKC Pride, the movie "Wish Me Away," a 2011 documentary on the life of Chely Wright. The museum is located at 415 Couch Drive immediately north of the City Hall Building. The two-hour film presents the story of Chely Wright, the first country music star to come out as gay. Over three years, the filmmakers were given extraordinary access to Chely’s struggle and her unfolding plan to come out publicly.
  • May 18 — Outdoor Movie On Film Row.
The OKC Pride website describes this event as follows:
      OKC Pride will officially kick off Pride Week 2012 with a FREE outdoor movie on Film Row! Bring out your chairs & blankets for a dramatic, laughter-filled cinema experience al fresco in the parking lot at 616-624 W. Sheridan Ave!
      Producer/director Tim Wolff will be presenting his documentary "The Sons of Tennessee Williams" which covers 50 years of New Orleans' gay civil rights revolution.
      Special guest will also be Albert Carey, one of the original activists from the early days of the gay movement in New Orleans.
An excellent 4:50 minute video preview of this film is shown below.

  • May 19 — The Downtown Festival On Film Row.
Perhaps the most dramatic development in/of the 2012 Gay Pride events is that its geographic focus shifts to downtown Oklahoma City. The 1st official event was just described and the unofficial Oklahoma City Museum of Art's movie event on May 17 follows suit.

On Saturday, May 19, Sheridan, spanning two blocks between Shartel and Dewey, will be closed between 11 am and 10 pm for the 2012 OKC Pride Festival.

Bands will be playing on stage at the east end and lots of other booths, food, and other stuff will be going on. See this link for the full schedule of activities and events.

The "downtown" expansion of the LGBT events was put into perspective by Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackmeyer in his May 15 article:
      It may be of some note, historically, that this weekend a community that city leaders kept at a distance have the unanimous backing of City Hall as it prepares to host its annual festival in an area of town that also was ignored just a decade ago. ¶ Such is the case as the city's gay and lesbian community is set to celebrate its annual OKC Pride festival Saturday along downtown's Film Row.
      A decade ago, the Oklahoma City Council voted 6-3 for an ordinance that attempted to stop just the promotion of the festival via light pole banners that have for decades been used to promote just about every other major festivity. That ordinance was overturned in courts, and festivities have continued annually at Memorial Park at NW 36 and Classen.
      Now, far from trying to block organizers of the festival from displaying banners, the Oklahoma City Council recently voted unanimously, without debate, to allow the event to shut down Sheridan Avenue to make Film Row the event's new home.
      It was also a decade ago that the 700 block of W Sheridan Avenue was similarly the subject of scorn at City Hall. It was an area derided as "skid row." But as with the Pride festivities, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this neighborhood also has enjoyed increased community support as it has re-emerged as Film Row.
      Matt Harney, a board member of the organizing committee, is hoping relocation of the daylong festival will not just increase exposure for the event, but also promote the ongoing revival of Film Row. ¶ The parade, he said, will stay at Memorial Park. But the festival, which will feature more than 60 exhibitors, will be set up along Sheridan Avenue where its new identity is being forged with an influx of creative firms, Joey's Pizzeria and the IAO Gallery.
      The festival will get an early kickoff with an outdoor screening of the movie “The Sons of Tennessee Williams” at 8:30 p.m. Friday. The festival itself will run 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and will include booths hosted by interfaith religious organizations and a children's zone with face-painting, music and inflated jumping bubbles.
      Harney notes that while the festival is hosted by the city's gay, lesbian and bisexual community, it's an overall celebration of diversity, and he sees Film Row's growing creative class as a natural partner in moving forward. ¶ "It's an up and coming cool part of town," Harney said. "There's so much going on — so much development there with the restaurants, the IAO gallery. We want to play our part. ¶ "We appreciate the creative community. There's a good overlap between art, film and the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)."
NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not believe there is any such thing as coincidence. If he is right about that, it was perhaps some sort of cool karma that my doorbell rang this afternoon around 6:30 pm. I thought about ignoring the ring and just go upstairs, but I instead answered the door.

This pleasant young man introduced himself — "I am Matt Harney, a progressive Democrat, running for House District 88," he said. House District 88 is the district formerly represented by Al McAffrey until he was elected to the State Senate in February 2012. My wife and I had a good long visit with Matt on our front porch, during which time I decided who I'd be voting for — him.

I hadn't closely read Steve Lackmeyer's above column before our front porch conversation with this 30-year old Oklahoma House candidate and only when updating this article did I put Matt and OKC Gay Pride 2012 together, and there you are — not a coincidence, only good karma!
  • May 20 — Parade.
The event's Facebook page says,
The 25th annual OKC Pride Parade will take place on Sunday, May 20th on the same route as last year. The parade will lineup at 4:00pm. Judging will start at 5 and the Parade will step off at 6:00 pm. More than 60,000 citizens came to enjoy the parade in 2011. The OKC Pride parade is the second largest parade in Oklahoma each year! This year — to commemorate the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – we're inviting current LGBT service members to march in our Parade and be recognized, collectively, as our Grand Marshal.

As you can see, above, the parade route begins at NW 36th & Classen, proceeds north to NW 39th, then left on NW 39th to Pennsylvania, crossing Pennsylvania to Barnes.
  • May 22 — Grease.
At or near 4010 N. Youngs at 8:30 pm, an outdoor sing-along showing of "Grease" will be presented. The group's website describes the event this way:
Come sing along to GREASE with Expressions Church and Pastor Neil and be a part of Pride week! This outdoor movie will start at 8:30 and is between Expressions Church the 1-800-2-SELL-HOMES property.
A map is shown below.

  • May 24 — Turning Drag On Its Wig.
This adult (21+years) event occurs at Angles, 2117 NW 39th Street. The event's website describes the event as follows:
      Join us during pride week, Thursday, May 24th, at 8 p.m., for a night of the most unlikely drag queens you never thought you'd see. This is a fundraiser for Cimarron Alliance, and will be held at Angles, located at 2117 NW 39th Street in Oklahoma City.
      There will be a $5 cover charge, and all proceeds will benefit "Stop Hate in the Hallways," Cimarron's anti-bullying program.
      Our host and M.C. for the evening will be Mr. Gay Oklahoma U.S.of.A., Kelly "Keliente" Forbes. DJ Chris Glitter will be playing some great dance music before and after the event.
      Our star-studded cast includes: Scott "Cimma Ronette" Hamilton(Cimarron Alliance Executive Director), Floyd "Wanda Wheeler" Martin (OKC "Gay Mayor"), Josh "Hazel Lies" Sauer (OKC Pride V.P.), Dr. David Macey (UCO Professor / SAFE Advisor), Wayne "Miss Thang" Johnson, Jon Trushenski (Member, Mayflower Congregational Church), Ben Corbett (OCU Professor / SPECTRUM Advisor), Calvin "Cali Forña" Rowe.
  • May 26-27 — Rodeo.
Huh? An LGBT rodeo? Yep, at the State Fairgrounds, Barns 6 & 7, May 26 at 8:00 am until May 27 at 8:00pm, the broncs will be busted and the steers will be tamed at the O.G.R.A. sponsored event (Oklahoma Gay Rodeo Association).

As I said already, other events than the above are on the calendar — see the event's website for the complete schedule.

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