2 Pride events planned for Oakland in a week

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday August 31, 2022
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Big Freedia will headline Pridefest Oakland Sunday, September 11. Photo: Courtesy Instagram
Big Freedia will headline Pridefest Oakland Sunday, September 11. Photo: Courtesy Instagram

With two Pride events taking place in Oakland in September, it may be worth asking whether one can have too much of a good thing. Oakland Pride and Pridefest Oakland, September 4 and 11, respectively, will be giving people plenty to keep busy with. Both events will also offer monkeypox vaccinations, thanks to efforts by the Biden administration to offer shots at events drawing large numbers of gay, bisexual, and trans men, and other men who have sex with men.

If it seems a little odd that Oakland is holding two Pride events this year, organizers seem a little surprised, too. Following last year's implosion of Oakland Pride, leading many to believe the organization was finished given the financial difficulties it had encountered, Pridefest Oakland took up the slack to ensure there was an in-person Oakland Pride event last year. It had held a street festival with entertainment outside the Port Bar and other locations along Broadway. As people began looking toward 2022, Pridefest organizers began making plans to do it again, and announced this year's festival in February.

Recently, however, Oakland Pride's website was updated and announced its parade and festival are taking place this Sunday. (Pridefest will not hold a parade.)

Outgoing Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is not expected to attend either event, according to a spokesperson. The mayor's office did not respond to a request for comment. In previous years, Schaaf rode her "snail" car in the parade.

There has been some confusion expressed on Oakland Pride's Facebook page, with people asking why there are two events and what the difference is between them. Oakland Pride has responded that there are still a few board members left and they wanted to continue the tradition of the parade and festival. Oakland Pride had in recent years taken place the second Sunday in September, but this year reverted back to the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, which is when it was originally held.

Planned Parenthood was one of many contingents that marched in the 2019 Oakland Pride parade. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

Organizers for both events insist they reached out to each other and that each side either didn't respond or declined to participate in holding one event.

"Pridefest never came to us about anything," said Oakland Pride organizer Frank Ciglar, adding that attempts to reach out to Pridefest resulted in nothing.

Pridefest organizer Sean Sullivan told the Bay Area Reporter his group had reached out to Ciglar but, again, hadn't gotten a response.

There had been an attempt by lesbian Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan to bring the two organizations together, as well, said Sullivan, but "it didn't seem like [Ciglar] wanted to share."

A call to Kaplan's office asking for comment was not immediately returned.

Ciglar, a gay man, didn't take too well to a reporter asking what had made Oakland Pride organizers decide to move ahead with the annual event after most people had expected the organization was done. As the B.A.R. reported last year, emails showed Oakland Pride had financial issues to the point that Ciglar was paying $5,000 per month of his own money to help pay off Oakland Pride's credit card bill. Ciglar's response to financial questions was that Oakland Pride has sponsors this year.

The emails also revealed that Ciglar had tried to get the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center to take over Pride in 2021, but he did not reach out with enough time for that to happen, according to Joe Hawkins, a gay man who's co-founder of the center. Now, the Oakland LGBTQ center is serving as fiscal sponsor for Pridefest, Sullivan said.

"Oakland Pride is the same as it's been for the last 12 years," said Ciglar.

Be that as it may, information about the event is hard to come by. Oakland Pride's website doesn't list any entertainment and gives little information about anything else taking place, as of August 30.

The parade, however, is slated to begin at 10:30 a.m. at its usual starting point, 14th Street and Broadway, and end at 21st Street and Broadway.

Visitors can also plan on getting a monkeypox vaccine when they arrive, according to Ciglar.

"One of the exciting things we have is a vaccination site for monkeypox," said Ciglar. Vaccinations will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, to come from a batch of 2,400 vaccines made available by the Biden administration for both Oakland Pride events.

The Oakland Pride festival will run from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at 20th Street and Broadway. Admission is $10. For more information, click here.

DJ and radio host Christie James is one of the Pridefest Oakland organizers. Photo: KSJ Photography  

Folks making their way to Pridefest the following Sunday will find a lot to keep them entertained. With three stages, including big name entertainers such as headliner Big Freedia and Crystal Waters, Pridefest organizers are excited about the lineup.

¨It's like the summer of Big Freedia," said Sullivan, one of the organizers of Pridefest and the co-owner with his partner, Richard Fuentes, of Oakland's Port Bar. With Big Freedia's appearance on Beyoncé's summer hit, "Break My Soul," from her "Renaissance" album, Sullivan is particularly proud of the "Queen of Bounce's" appearance at Pridefest.

"Oakland has never had anyone as big," Sullivan said, noting that appearances like Big Freedia's typically happen in New York or Los Angeles.

Big Freedia performed on San Francisco Pride's main stage in 2015 and headlined its virtual 50th celebration in 2020.

"I find the fact that people coming out of the closet today will know performers on our stage as in-demand headliners that represent them, that makes themselves feel seen as authentic queer people," Sullivan said.

And there are plenty of names — to say nothing of at least 12 DJs slated to keep tunes flowing throughout the day. Look for performances by Madame Gandhi, David Harness, a Selena tribute by the Amor Prohibido Band featuring Nira, the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus, Ballet 22, numerous additional singers and performers, and an appearance by trans "Jeopardy!" champion Amy Schneider.

Christie James, one of the Pridefest organizers and a DJ on 103.7 FM who can be heard weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. hosting "Morning Drive with Christie Live," previously told the B.A.R. that she's looking forward to the event.

James, who identifies as pansexual and bisexual, said she's excited to help create the festival. She had overseen the main stage at Oakland Pride for five years.

"I wanted to help bring a good, positive vibe to what can be kind of crazy sometimes," she said.

Because vaccinations are this year's hottest accessory, Kaiser Permanente is sponsoring a vaccination site, inside the festival grounds. Visitors will be able to get one of 1,000 free MPX vaccination administered by staff from the Alameda County Public Health Department on a first-come, first-served basis, as well as a COVID vaccination, and plenty of information about sexual health.

While visitors to Pridefest will pay a $10 suggested admission fee (non-cash payment options will be available), those who are coming just for the vaccine only need to tell staff at the gate. They'll be able to enter the festival for free to make their way to the vaccination site, said James.

Pridefest will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, September 11, at 20th Street and Broadway. For more information, click here.

Other events
Two other events will take place September 11. The East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club will hold its Pride Breakfast for the first time since 2019. It will take place at 9 a.m. at the Oakstop California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin Street. Tickets are $20 for members and $40 for non-members. The event will help mark the club's 40th anniversary. For more information, click here.

Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom, the local LGBTQ bar association, will partner with the Asian American Bar Association for its second Pride Brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lake Chalet Seafood Bar and Grill, 1520 Lakeside Drive. The event is outdoors and people will head over to Pridefest afterward. For more information, click here.

Updated, 9/1/22: This article has been updated regarding MPX vaccination information for the 9/11 Pridefest Oakland event.

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