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New nonprofit to host OKC Pride festival

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People watch the OKC Pride Parade on NW 39 Street in Oklahoma City on June 25, 2017. Oklahoma City's Pride parade will take place this year on June 22. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]
People watch the OKC Pride Parade on NW 39 Street in Oklahoma City on June 25, 2017. Oklahoma City's Pride parade will take place this year on June 22. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman Archives]

A new nonprofit has formed to organize Oklahoma City’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebration.

Oklahoma City Pride Alliance will oversee the festival and parade honoring the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The group is led by Lauren Zuniga, former director of the 39th District Association, which briefly took over Pride planning earlier this year.

“We needed to form a new organization to be able to take Pride to a bigger scale beyond just 39th Street,” Zuniga told The Oklahoman. “We’re really trying to make it citywide and we want a lot of districts to be involved. We want the whole city to feel like it’s Pride month.”

The nonprofit already has festivities planned across the city in May and June to mark LGBTQ Pride, including events in the Plaza District and at the Tower Theatre. Pride on 39th kicks off June 22 with a parade at noon followed by a block party.

Zuniga said the Pride Alliance eventually aims to operate like the city's Allied Arts organization, providing grants and other resources to help smaller LGBTQ groups in Oklahoma.

“(We want to) have some kind of structure set up — whether it be memberships or committees — where every LGBTQ-serving organization can have a seat at the table and make decisions regarding Pride and things that regard LGBTQ visibility and affirmation,” she said.

The transition follows tumult at OKC Pride Inc., the nonprofit that has hosted the event for years, whose former president was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the group and charged with felony embezzlement in 2018. The group said it was restructuring earlier this year but recently directed its Facebook followers to Pride Alliance for questions about this year's festival.

“It’s a lot of change for the community, especially after going through what we went through last year. There was just so much hurt, and it was just a big blow to the community,” Zuniga said. "I really want to make sure that we have the infrastructure to create something sustainable going forward that's more accountable and more transparent that the community feels like they can trust."

Zuniga hopes Pride Alliance will restore Oklahoma City’s festival into one of the premier LGBTQ events of the region and bring more tourists not only to 39th Street, but to the entire metro area.

“While we are sad to see Lauren go, we are excited for what this means for the community,” the 39th Street District Association said in a statement. “Going forward, there will be an organization with solid infrastructure to sustainably facilitate our state’s largest LGBTQ Pride celebration.”

Volunteers are still needed for the event. Organizers expect at least 85,000 people will attend.

For more information, go to the Oklahoma City Pride Facebook page or go to www.oklahomacitypride.org.

Siali Siaosi

Siali Siaosi joined The Oklahoman as a NewsOK web editor in 2015. He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Central Oklahoma. When he's not grooming his beard, Siali can be found scrolling online or listening to... Read more ›

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