Oakland Pride to close out the summer

Ira Lazo,

Every six months, Oakland’s Queer Gym staff hosts a queer sensitivity program, in which local community members and personal trainers have the opportunity to ask awkward or uncomfortable questions about the gender spectrum. This is the only queer-focused gym in the East Bay and every workout begins with a special introduction. Members say their name and preferred gender pronoun and answer an ice-breaker question proposed by a gym staff member.

Gym staff aim to create an inclusive atmosphere, and language is key to creating a safe space for people of the queer community to get healthy, according to Nathalie Huerta, CEO of Queer Gym.

“The gym is already intimidating enough as it is, and that negative experience is even more heightened when you identify as queer or trans,” Huerta said.

The gym is one of the many smaller businesses featured in the upcoming annual Oakland Pride Festival, which will take place on Sept. 11 and attract an expected 50,000 people. Pandora, Kaiser Permanente, Gilead and Bart are some of the other sponsors that will be present at the event.

“When you invest in Oakland Pride, you’ll still get more bang for your buck and more personable meetings,” said Amber Todd, one of the three co-founders of Oakland Pride, a nonprofit that started in 2008 at the cusp of the Proposition 8 ballot that legalized gay marriage across the nation.

Heading into its sixth year, Oakland Pride aims to differentiate itself from its sister Pride celebration in San Francisco and Sacramento as less of a “party” and more of a family-friendly event that connects residents with businesses and resources that cater to the queer community.

It takes over a year for the festival details to come together. This year’s event features Grammy Nominated R&B artist Deborah Cox, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, and reality TV-show finalist Frenchie Davis. There will also be a children’s carnival that will include a petting zoo and a book giveaway.

To tie in the lightheartedness of the festival to the community, the finale will include a Gospel tribute and feature a surprise guest.

In the wake of the Pulse Orlando club shooting and this year’s politically-charged election, Pride festival planners want to make sure that attendees feel like they belong. “When you come out to Pride, you would see yourself reflected in Pride, you will find acceptance, you will find other people like you,” said Todd.

The free parade begins at 10:30 a.m. and will start on Broadway between 14th and 20th Streets. The festival entrances are on Broadway & 20th Street, and Webster and 21st Street. There will be an admittance fee of $10 for adults and children under 12 is $5.