OKC Pride: A place to belong - MetroFamily Magazine
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OKC Pride: A place to belong

by Liz Charles. photos by Allie Shinn

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

It was during Pride that I got to see my kid come alive. They were 8 at the time and it was clear they were too bright of a light to be reduced to society’s binary construct of gender. Dressed in a pink, white and blue striped dress, anticipation and nervousness emanated from my beautiful kid who, up until this point, had reserved donning dresses, sparkle and makeup solely for our home where they were safe to show up however they wanted. Unfortunately, they had already learned the painful and traumatic lesson of safety not extending beyond our nest – they were no stranger to the bullying, taunting and judgment thrust upon the bravest of us who dare to challenge and reject the confines of prescribed social norms.

I’ve witnessed them nurture the courage and self-trust required to honor the truth of who they are in a world determined to keep them small. While I’m confident our family would have found our way to authenticity together, I also know Pride was the springboard that propelled us to not only accept ourselves and each other but to celebrate the liberating magic that occurs when people refuse to be anything other than exactly who they are.    

Attending Pride as a family provides a gateway for conversation about complex, often-avoided topics to flow organically, creating a new environment of safety where curiosity and questioning can be given space to take root and flourish into discovery, confidence and belonging. Our OKC Pride Alliance has worked thoughtfully to curate intentional space and events for children, youth and families to feel represented and celebrated throughout OKC Pride Alliance festivities.

While joining in Pride is a wonderful place for parents and families to start, there is much to do in the shared work of equity, inclusivity and restoration, and everyone can and must do something.  Let’s do the work of confronting and examining our biases. Let’s get uncomfortable. Let’s devote our energy to learning and unlearning so we can model accountability and a commitment to growth for our kids, families, friends, neighbors. Let’s support each other while we work to embody Maya Angelou’s words: when you know better, do better.

I will forever be grateful and indebted to those who ensure Stonewall lives on by dedicating the best of themselves to building a queer rights movement for all of us. Those who are painting with every color of the rainbow to create community where everyone has the belonging and safety we all deserve. Those who know how to throw the greatest party and invite everyone to celebrate and honor the lives of the giants who fought before us by showing our queer kids the heart of our city belongs to them, too.

While I can’t tell you or your family exactly what to expect, I do know one thing is for sure: if you come to Pride with an open heart, you will be greeted with a resounding and enthusiastic chorus of welcome – we’ve been waiting for you. We are so glad you are here. Welcome home.

This weekend’s OKC Pride Alliance Festival and Parade in downtown OKC is free to attend and includes events Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Liz is a collaborative, heart-centered leader working to build strategic and bold solutions to the systemic issues and challenges affecting marginalized communities across Oklahoma. Liz currently serves as the senior program officer for the Kirkpatrick Family Fund. Liz spends her free time hiking, rock climbing, camping and cooking elaborate meals on a portable propane stove. She lives in Oklahoma City with her two energetic and brave children. 

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