Oakland Black Pride returns with expo, brunch

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 21, 2023
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James Cox, second from left, Oakland Black Pride treasurer; joined others, including DJ Nina Robinson, fund director-Runway at Oakland Black Pride's 2022 benefit dinner at SobreMesa in Oakland. Photo: Courtesy Bryon Malik Photography <br>
James Cox, second from left, Oakland Black Pride treasurer; joined others, including DJ Nina Robinson, fund director-Runway at Oakland Black Pride's 2022 benefit dinner at SobreMesa in Oakland. Photo: Courtesy Bryon Malik Photography

Pride Month doesn't end with the last Sunday of June this year — across the bay from San Francisco's parade and celebration, Oakland Black Pride will be just about to get underway.

This year will be the third iteration of the event, which was launched in 2021, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported.

Nonbinary and queer Oakland Black Pride Executive Director Olaywa K. Austin spoke with the B.A.R. to walk through this year's events taking place next week.

Austin said their goal is to create a safe space for the vulnerable within the LGBTQ community.

"I hope people see it's an inclusive thing," Austin said. "We put this on to uplift the marginalized within the LGBTQ community. We want folks to see the necessity of safe spaces for us and that we are a fun group of folk. Come support us and hang out with us. See what we're up to. It's a movement, and every year it grows, and we get some good feedback about what we're doing."

Austin said that they're "really excited about the program we've put together, starting off with our benefit dinner fundraiser."

The Breaking Bread fundraiser will be Wednesday, June 28, at 6 p.m. at Forage Kitchen, 478 25th Street. The $250 tickets are still available online. Helming the kitchen will be chef Preeti Mistry, a queer, lesbian, and gender-nonconforming resident of Sebastopol in the North Bay who formerly owned an Oakland restaurant.

Mistry will be "preparing a seven course tasting menu and a three cocktail pairing, so super super excited about that," Austin said. (Vegetarian options are also available.)

"The objective of Breaking Bread is to make the culinary contributions of queer people of color more visible; to exhibit the many ways that QPOC have been a meaningful part of the restaurant industry," Oakland Black Pride's website states. "To offer the dining public in the Bay Area, cuisines and perspectives of folx that have largely been muted. Breaking Bread is a nod to QPOC in fine dining who are rarely seen as next in line to be restaurateurs or executive chefs."

The next event is virtual, "Navigating Grief + Loss Through Joy," which is Thursday, June 29, at 5 p.m. and is being offered through partnership with creative wellness agency GetSomeJoy.

"Through grounding activities, reflection, introspective writing, and group discussion in a safe, affirming environment, we unpack emotions related to grief and mourning and collaborate on tools and strategies for moving through spiritual ashiness," the website states.

People interested in signing up can do so online.

Bar crawl and more

"And then Friday we do the fun stuff — Friday's our bar crawl, one of the most exciting parts of the festival," Austin said. "We've got some new bar partners this year, starting with High 5ive, inside the Kissel Hotel in uptown Oakland, which is our host hotel." (The hotel is at 2455 Broadway.)

The other participating watering holes are alaMar at 100 Grand Avenue, Town Bar at 2001 Broadway, and Amber Lounge at 1517 Franklin Street. The event starts at 6 p.m. A $30 ticket is required to participate, but this includes a signature cocktail at each stop and a raffle entry. People interested in signing up can do so online.

Then, Saturday, July 1, comes the Queer Expo at Agency Oakland at 2150 Lexington Street from noon to 8 p.m. Austin called the expo "my baby."

It will feature "a little over 50 queer vendors of color — everything from nonprofits to artists to merchants to crafters. So that's going to be a big event. It's growing every year: the first year we had maybe 20 [vendors], last year 30; this year we've tapped at 50. We're incorporating a kids zone to the expo."

Austin asks people to "show them [vendors] some love, especially with storefronts shuttering and malls and stuff closing."

One of those vendors is Krystal Cade, who told the B.A.R. that this is her third time at the expo.

"I love these expos because as a queer Black business owner, it's a unique opportunity for me to connect with my people," Cade stated. "Supporting Black businesses is important to me and OBP's Queer Expo is an effective way we can offer that support to each other and to our community."

The final day, Sunday, July 2, will see three events. The first is the queer kickball tournament, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Raimondi Park at 1800 Wood Street.

The cost to participate is $12 per player or $120 per team. Each team must consist of between nine and 11 players. Interested players can sign up online.

"We didn't do it last year," Austin said. "That's going to be fun, so if you know anyone who wants to play kickball tell them to sign up."

For those less athletically inclined on a Sunday morning, Oakland Black Pride is offering brunch — "Biscuits and Bellinis" to be exact - at Otto's Uptown Kitchen, 2455 Broadway, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The first course will consist of biscuits and gravy, jams and honeys; the second a choice of shrimp, pork belly, or a vegetarian option; and the third a chef's dessert. Other brunch items, such as fruit and French toast sticks, can be added optionally. Vegan options are also available. The $60 tickets are available online.

The final event is a cookout from 3 to 8 p.m. the same day. The exact location will be sent out closer to the event. Tickets are $15 online and will be $20 at the door.

Austin said it'll be "a big queer party," but won't go too late for those who need to get up early Monday for work or school.

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