Coinciding with the traditional last-weekend-in-June Pride celebration in San Francisco, Oakland Black Pride is having its first-ever series of events focused on the Black LGBTQ+ community of the East Bay.
Oakland Black Pride — not to be confused with Oakland Pride, which takes place in September — is a non-profit organization that was founded last year "dedicated to addressing the inequities that exist at that critical intersection of blackness and queerness." And this weekend, they are hosting their first-ever weekend of Pride events, both virtual and in-person, with the theme "Inside/OUT!"
It's notably the first time that the Bay Area has had a Pride celebration focused on Black LGBTQ+ people, put on by Black LGBTQ+ people.
Olaywa K. Austin, a retired U.S. Air Force Medical Technician and the executive director of Oakland Black Pride, told the Bay Area Reporter earlier this month, the organization and this first Pride weekend took shape over several years, but the pandemic really spurred it into a reality.
"A lot of what I saw [at Pride events] around my immediate area didn't look how Pride started — didn't look as Black, as transgender, as riotous, as inclusive as it had started," Austin said.
"I'd been thinking about that, and then COVID hit," Austin explains. "Faced with a pandemic, a lot of the needs of myself and the Black, queer community were exhausted. A lot of our needs — the things we struggle to get anyway — were in jeopardy. So I started working on a project based on my needs and the needs of my immediate community, and three months later I had a nonprofit. This organization was a survival tactic of ours. Fast forward to now, it's Pride Month, and we have an organization with a full schedule for our community."
And as Austin tells former SFist editor Brock Keeling in this excellent new Chronicle op-ed about Pride parades in general, "There’s been an erasure of the architects and elders of the LGBTQ+ movement; it has been whitewashed and so has Pride overall. Two trans women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, led the Stonewall rebellion and are mothers of the Pride movement, but today it’s dominated by white cisgender gay men, allies and corporations and is far removed from Stonewall."
Oakland Black Pride's first big in-person outing is a bar crawl in downtown Oakland that kicks off tonight (Friday 6/25) at 6 p.m. "We’ll start at Kingston 11 at 6PM and from there we’ll stroll over to see our friends at PORT Bar. After hanging out there, we’ll stroll up the street to Sobre Mesa and our final stop of the night is Oeste," the group writes.
On Saturday, there will be a Queer Expo with over 50 vendors at The Loom in Oakland's Jingletown neighborhood. Register to attend here.
There's a Skate for Pride fundraiser on Saturday night in West Oakland.
And on Sunday evening starting at 9 p.m. there will be a Pose-style ball, modeled on the Harlem balls that began in the 1980s, dubbed the Slayers Ball. That will take place in the Bridge Yard at 210 Burma Road, right beside the Bay Bridge toll plaza, and will feature a live performance by ASTU. Find tickets here.
"We are going to have a ball, both literally and figuratively," Austin told the BAR. "We have music, kick-ass DJs, all from the queer community. There's room enough for folks to be spread out, have a good time, and be in community. A lot of what Pride is is being able to be in community."
Top Image: The Oakland Black Pride team of Advocacy Director James Cox, Executive Director Olaywa Austin, and Avery Z Hines. Photo: Pam Torno