Gay Community Split Over Moving Pride Parade

Tuesday, January 6th 2009, 12:06 am
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City's gay community is split over plans to move the city's annual Pride Parade. Stuck in the middle of the controversy are local businesses that could lose a lot of money.

OKC Pride Inc., the board that oversees the pride events, held a meeting Monday to discuss plans to move the parade. The board said the festivities at Memorial Park had to be moved because of park renovations this year.

To totally address the elephant in the room...If you move the parade from 39th, do you have a backup plan if people completely boycott it?" said Scott Jaggers, who opposes moving the parade.

Dozens of gays and lesbians voiced their opposition Monday to the idea of moving the annual pride parade from NW 39th and Pennsylvania Avenue to the northeast side of the city near Remington Park.

Some oppose the move because they say the area has a crime rate that is much higher than the area where the parade is usually held.

Others said it's time to move the festivities to a more family friendly area and away from bars and clubs.

"We need to let youngsters know you don't have to go to bar to be a gay or lesbian or bisexual transgendered person," said Sally Blevins, who supports moving the parade.

But bar and club owners said the annual event is a boom for the bottom line, and a change in venue will only hurt their businesses.

"We have a number of other businesses moving in now and then you take away the Pride Parade? Well they're not going to have that huge impact on that one day like everyone else," said Steven White of the Boom Nightclub.

The board did not make any final decision Monday. They will meet again in two weeks to discuss the meeting and they could make a final decision at that time.

A spokesman for Remington Park said plans to host this year's parade are not finalized.