Pride parade, celebrations return to Oakland this weekend

This weekend, Oakland celebrates Pride. Roughly 50,000 people are expected to attend the event on Sunday, September 9, which will pay tribute to the city's unique and diverse LGBTQ culture. Like its San Francisco counterpart, the event will also include a street fair and live entertainment.

"It's about trying to build a community, and inclusiveness in the East Bay and Oakland within our LGBTQ community," said Oakland Pride Board co-chair Carlos Uribe of the event. "For me, there's a certain energy and feel that Oakland Pride has that I haven't felt at other Prides."

Uribe promises a day of diversity and fun. "It's very much an LGBTQ celebration," he said. "It's very Oakland, and we have a lot of businesses and vendors that are part of the local fabric of Oakland."

Photo: Daniel Miramontes

There will be four stages at the street fair: the main stage, the women's stage, the Latinx stage and the community stage.

"The main stage headliner is Amara La Negra, who was on Love And Hip Hop: Miami," said Uribe. "She's an Afro-Latina artist who brings a uniqueness and positive message to her performances. She talks about how she's experienced racism, classism and colorism as an artist."

The women's stage will feature Girl 6, an all-female Prince tribute band, and vocalist Maya Sh'Von.

Headlining the Latinx stage is musical group Fulanito, as the event attempts to reach "a growing demographic that's not always highlighted in LGBTQ celebrations," Uribe said. "We want to make sure that we include artists and groups from across the spectrum."

Local political figures, such as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Assemblyman Rob Bonta, are also expected to attend this year's celebration.

"We do allow elected officials to say hi and welcome the crowd," said Uribe. "But we don't allow any long speeches."

Photo: Daniel Miramontes

Sunday's events begin with a 9 a.m. pancake breakfast in front of City Hall, hosted by the Oakland firefighters' union. "$10 gets you all you can eat," said Uribe. "It's a great way to get people out and get nice big crowds before the parade."

The parade itself kicks off at 11 a.m. at 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland, and continues to 20th Street, where the main stage is located. There will be around 80 contingents, including elected officials, people running for office, faith-based groups, community organizations, youth contingents and many of Pride's sponsors.

As for why the event is held in September, compared to June for most other U.S. Pride celebrations (including San Francisco's), "it's practicality," Uribe said. "Why have an event the same month as San Francisco and compete?"

"It's the end of summer, Oakland still has great weather. Why not close out summer with a great celebration?"

Photo: Edgar Pacheco

$10 also buys admission to the post-parade street fair, which is popular with families with children.

"There will be rides and petting zoos, bounce houses, face painting and more," Uribe said. "Because we have so many LGBTQ families raising children in the East Bay, we want to make sure that everyone has something fun to do."

Organizing an event of this scale is a monumental task, and Uribe expressed gratitude for those who help to make it happen.

"The weekend of Pride, nearly two hundred volunteers come out and help us put this together," he said. "If it weren't for them and our generous sponsors, we wouldn't be able to do this."