Tulsa’s young and inspiring Pride director

Jose Vega is OkEq’s youngest Tulsa Pride Director. Photo provided.

by Robin Dorner
Editor in Chief

Jose Vega’s dream is to make Tulsa more welcoming to the LGBT+ community. As a first-generation Latino from an immigrant family, he is passionate about immigrant issues as well.

“Every day I hear of hate crimes and people losing their job because of who they are,” said Vega. “We end up losing them when they move to other cities. That’s not helping Tulsa’s mission to become a diverse city and to attract and retain talent.”

Vega has been the Program Director for Oklahomans for Equality (OkEq) for three years, having started with the statewide LGBT+ rights organization in August 2015. Some of his goals with the organization are to help develop policies, protections, and helping Tulsa become inclusive.

“I am passionate about change and making a difference in my community,” Vega added. “Since high school, I have always put others before me and love to give!”

He attended Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa and is an alumnus of Tulsa Community College 
with a BA in Health Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Scenes from Tulsa Pride. Photo provided.

Vega began volunteering with Tulsa Pride in 2013-2014, then became the volunteer coordinator for Tulsa Pride in 2015.

“2016 was my first year in the driver’s seat, doing all the logistics, vendors, volunteers, food truck, sponsors, parade entry, city permits, all of it with help from OkEq staff. Later finding out I was the first 23-year-old to ever put on a huge festival in the city of Tulsa.”

Vega is now 25 and said the previous directors were in their early to late 30’s when they organized previous Tulsa Pride events.

He credits his job at OkEq for many skills he has developed.

“I have learned so much, from organizational skills and volunteer recruitment to fundraising and developing programs and opportunities for the community’s needs.”  

OkEq Executive Director, Toby Jenkins said Vega has worked aggressively to make Tulsa Pride’s entertainment diverse and representative of everybody.

“As a LatinX gay man, he sees where sometimes our Pride celebration can be closed to the members of our community,” said Jenkins. “Jose brings a unique gift to Pride organizing. To have one so young and yet very wise is inspiring.”

Jenkins added, “His commitment to having safe spaces for families, older adults and people of color have reformed our approach to more intentional.”

What’s new in store for attendees of Tulsa Pride this year? Vega said, “This year’s special guest performer is RuPaul Drag Race performer Laganja Estranja.”

Tulsa Pride kicks-off with the Festival beginning on Friday, June 1 from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, home of OkEq, 621 E. 4th St. in Tulsa.

Jose Vega speaks at an Opportunity Symposium in Tulsa. Photo provided.

The Festival continues Saturday, June 2, 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. with the Tulsa Pride Parade on Saturday, June 2, at 6 p.m. Guests on Sunday, June 3 can enjoy the Pride Picnic at the Park from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Guthrie Green, 111 East M.B. Brady Street in Tulsa.  

Vega said in closing, “I am so honored and humbled the organization believed in me and gave me the opportunity to lead and be part of this amazing event that is important to our community and history.” 

For more information about Tulsa Pride, visit www.okeq.org/tulsa-pride. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the center at
(918) 743-4297.

The Gayly. May 7, 2018. 10:00 a.m. CST.