Unity Gala promotes community and much more

In 2016, Sara Cunningham had a desire to show an underserved and underrepresented community they were loved and appreciated during Valentine’s Day.

She set forth to acknowledge and celebrate the transgender community and make a difference in their lives by organizing the first Trans Valentine event in Oklahoma City.

The initial response was overwhelming with over 100 people in attendance. Each year the attendance has grown.

Unity Gala 2018 on February 16, will be the 3rd annual Trans Valentine event. It is co-sponsored by Cunningham’s organization, Free Mom Hugs with OKC Pride and Diversity Center of Oklahoma.

“Support systems can be limiting, lack of familiar supports are common,” said Kelley Blair, CEO of The Diversity Center of Oklahoma, Inc.

“Many folks experience depression and anxiety ‘dysphoria.’ For many it is easy to become overwhelmed and discouraged; transitioning can be a long process.”

Blair said events such as the Unity Gala promote community as well as helping to build healthy relationships and support systems.

It is estimated over 1.4 million people in the United States identify as transgender expansive.

Transgender persons have one of the highest rates of discrimination and incur more hate crimes.

The murder rate of transgender women of color is at a higher rate than any other minority group.

“Individuals can meet other people in a safe environment, who they have things in common, people they can relate,” Blair added.

The event will be February 16th from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Will Rogers Garden Exhibition Hall, 3400 NW 36th, OKC, OK 73112.

There will be music, dancing and free hors-d’oeuvres.

It will be kid-friendly, although wine and beer will be served on the premises.

There is no required dress code. “We don’t want people to feel they can’t come because they don’t have formals, but we would like them to dress up as much as they would like,” Blair added in closing.

The Unity Gala is free to the public. Organizers say they look forward to seeing everyone there.

The Gayly. February 8, 2018. 9:48 a.m. CST.