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Anyone getting off BART at its 19th Street station late Sunday morning could hear pulsing club beats as they made their way up the stairs and onto Broadway. And it was a full-on street party happening right outside the station, with songs like Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” playing loudly, and both children and adults out in force to proudly champion LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility.

The 12th annual Oakland Pride — a celebration of Oakland’s LGBTQIA+ community, its diversity and subcultures — got underway with its parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. It was a particularly momentous event in that it marked the in-person return of the parade and festival after a couple of years off because of COVID-19. 

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Oakland Pride weekend kicked off at 11 a.m. Saturday with the Oakland Trans March, with participants meeting at City Hall and the march taking place through Downtown Oakland. Sunday’s Oakland Pride Parade started at 14th Street and Broadway, with the parade’s many contingencies making their way up the city’s major thoroughfare for six blocks. 

The parade’s lineup included Oakland Pride sponsors, a variety of local organizations, departments and schools as well as public officials such as District 15 Assembly member Buffy Wicks. There were also some Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence sightings.

Sunday’s post-parade Pride festival opened at 11 a.m., with the entrance at 20th Street and Broadway. There was a surplus of food and beverage offerings — corn dogs, garlic fries, funnel cakes, kettle corn, rainbow Italian ice, waffles, barbecue, cocktails and more — at the festival, as well as vendors showcasing and selling art, jewelry and apparel.

Many of the booths stationed at the festival promoted Bay Area stores, companies and organizations, such as Oakland’s Cape & Cowl Comics, Emeryville-based Clif Bar & Company, Oakland’s Own, Bay Area Lesbian Archives, Honeycomb Hideout 510 and the Oakland Department of Human Services. National organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood and Stand for the Silent, also had a presence.

The large stage set up on 20th Street featured Saucy Santana; former En Vogue member Maxine Jones, an Oakland native; and 106.1 KMEL-FM DJ Rick Lee aka “The Dragon,” as well as other performers.

Sunday presented hot temperatures, a clear blue sky, lots of smiles and that great community vibe that anyone familiar with Oakland knows a thing or two about.

As one member from the Soul of Pride contingency announced to parade goers via microphone, “Happy Pride, y’all. Happy Oakland Pride.”

The celebration doesn’t end

Oakland’s second major LGBTQIA+ festival Pridefest Oakland — run by a separate organization from Oakland Pride — takes place 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at 20th Street and Broadway, Oakland. The second annual celebration will feature Big Freedia, Crystal Waters and Madame Gandhi and will be hosted by Mo Heart of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” A $10 donation is suggested, and free monkeypox vaccines will be offered onsite. For more information, visit https://pridefestoakland.com.