Oakland Prepares for LGBT Pride
Oakland’s third annual LGBT Pride festival is coming this weekend, and organizers are hoping attendees don’t see it as just a one-day party, but as an event to help the community’s future.
This year’s Oakland Pride will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, September 2. The Labor Day weekend festival takes place at 20th Street and Broadway in the city’s Uptown neighborhood. (BART riders should exit at the 19th Street station).
CeCe Peniston, best known for her 1991 song "Finally," will be among the headliners. Admission is $10, or $5 for seniors and youth 12 and under.
Pride organizers have struggled to break even, but board Chair Amber Todd said they’re still hoping to help gather funds for establishing an LGBT community center in Oakland - a long-term goal of the revitalized Pride festival. Raising money to put toward a community center is Pride’s "driving force," she said.
"Our goal is to fundraise so that all the bills are paid before we open the gates, so that the money collected at the gates can go toward the following year and creating sustainability," Todd said.
There’s still no money set aside for the center, Todd said.
The board’s "not quite" there yet, Todd said. "We’re barely breaking even year to year," she said. "It’s not that we’re not trying. It’s just hard."
Todd couldn’t immediately say what total expenses are expected to be this year. She estimated that fundraising efforts have generated more than $80,000 so far, but she wasn’t sure how much of that’s actually come in.
Pride board Treasurer Frank Ciglar didn’t provide financial figures for this story, despite multiple requests.
One issue facing Pride is that "we get a lot of mixed signals," Todd said.
"A large part of the community would prefer we are not corporate-sponsored," she said, but right now, those backers are "what’s keeping us stable."
She said organizers have taken on some new sponsors this year that have "raised the eyebrows" of some community members.
Among those is Chevron, the giant oil and gas corporation, which Todd said is providing about $10,000. (Pride’s website indicates the company is contributing $30,000.) She said complaints from the community came in even before the recent fire at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.
In response to emailed questions, Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram said Chevron Energy Solutions is the corporation sponsoring Pride.
"The event is important to the community of Oakland and it is a key part of CES’ social investment activity in the city," Avram said. "CES works with civic leaders and communities across a broad spectrum of diverse American cities."
The theme for this year’s Oakland Pride is "It’s a Celebration," and City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan, an out lesbian, indicated she thinks the event is living up to that title.
"The Pride festival is an important accomplishment in its own right," she said. " ... The assumption was not that the Pride festival itself would be responsible for raising the money for the center."
Funding sources, including business and foundations, are being looked into for a center, Kaplan said, and the Pride party is already "helping people to feel that they can be part of an active, vibrant community in Oakland."
She said one of her "big successes" this year is that $15,000 from the city budget is expected for Pride.
Sunday’s Pride festivities will include stages devoted to urban soul and Latin entertainment, as well as the women’s and main stages. The expanded offerings are in response to community members saying they wanted more diverse programing, Todd said. There will also be a family and children’s area and a community health pavilion.
For more information, visit http://www.oaklandpride.org. For a look at Pride-related parties, see story, page 3.