Enid is “Roaring” with Pride

Scenes from Enid Pride 2017. Photo by Robin Dorner.

by Elisabeth Slay
Staff Writer

Who would’ve thought in a rural place like Enid, with a population of 51,004, a small Pride picnic would grow nine years later into a ‘roaring’ celebration of the town’s LGBTQ+ community?

“With Pride having started out as a picnic and transforming into something bigger as the years go by, it has certainly made our presence in our community not only known but felt,” said Co-director of  Enid LGBT Coalition, Julian Pendergraft.

“I feel as though Pride has helped improve and strengthen the relations not only within the LGBT community in Enid but within the general community as well.”

Enid’s Pride weekend begins with Broadway Backwards, a “gender-bending” show, hosted by Enid queen, Amber Lynne, and features gender-reversed versions of songs from Hamilton, Fiddler on the Roof, Sweeny Todd and more.

The show is Friday, September 21st at 7 p.m. in the Turpin at Gaslight Theatre and tickets are available at the box office at (580) 234-2307 or online at www.gaslighttheatre.org for $5.

Pride celebrations follow on Saturday, September 22nd at Government Springs Park from noon to 5 p.m. This year the theme is ‘Roaring Pride’ as its mission is to encourage people to speak out for what’s right.

Pendergraft said Enid Pride continues its growth because this year’s event is bigger than ever.

“With the help of our co-director Lisa Herald, and so many others, we have been putting together a Pride event unlike any other seen in Enid before,” Pendergraft said.

Herald explained, in the beginning, people were skeptical of Pride because naysayers claimed no one would support the cause.

“At first, we were only planning a small picnic and before long we had bands and drag performers wanting to participate and vendors signing up,” she said. “It was almost surreal how quickly things took off.

“There were even rumors being spread that the police were going to shut us down, which many people have said was the reason they didn’t come.”

Despite the rumors, a total of 300 people attended the first picnic and over time hundreds became thousands.

“Seeing Enid Pride grow from what was supposed to be a picnic in the park to what it is now, nine years later, makes me immensely proud to have contributed in some small way,” Herald said.

“Each year we’re finding more support and more acceptance within our community and this year is no different with a record-breaking number of sponsors and vendors.”

Saturday has many performers lined up including the DJ stylings of Amit Panchal and 3DSOUNDZ, speeches from Toby Jenkins of Oklahomans for Equality, transgender activist Paula Sophia Schonauer and others. There will also be a family-friendly drag show, and live music from Chloe-Beth Campbell and Riley Jantzen.

Several activities will take place as well including a scavenger hunt for various prizes and the Pet Parade with prizes donated by local businesses.

The process to plan Pride has been crazy, Pendergraft said, but he’s happy to make it possible.

“It means a lot to me that I could help bring something like this together in our community and to just be a part of it,” he added.

Festivities at the park end at 5 p.m. but the celebration will continue at 8 p.m. in the Spring Hill Suites banquet room. There will be drag performances from Mr. Oklahoma of USofA MI 2017 Shire Paige, Mor’Gun Fontane, current Mr. Texas of USofA 2017 MI Tucker Downtown, Mr. OKC Pride 2018 Hunter Matrix, Misty Snatch, and host, Sara Hearts.

Volunteers are still needed and Pendergraft encourages people to join the Enid LGBT Coalition.

“If people continue to support and join the Enid LGBT Coalition, I know it can not only continue bringing a great Pride event to our area year after year but will allow us to continue programs, provide informational resources and allow us to participate in activities that involve community outreach,” Pendergraft said.

For more information, visit www.enidlgbtcoalition.org and find Enid Pride under “programs.”

Copyright The Gayly. 9/6/2018 @ 12:18 p.m. CST.