By Jesse Brooks
After a six-year absence, the Oakland Pride festival will return to uptown Oakland on Labor Day weekend, Sunday, Sept. 5, Noon to 6 p.m.
Festivities will feature the legendary Chaka Kahn, dance diva Martha Wash and over 60 other artists on stage.
This year’s plan is to have a parade from Lake Merritt at noon that ends up near the festival grounds centered at the intersection of 22nd and Franklin streets, just a few blocks from both the Fox and Paramount theaters and close to the 19th Street BART station, according to Joe Hawkins, party promoter, who is helping head up planning for the event.
Of the Bay Area’s three biggest cities, Oakland has been the only one not to host a major Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Pride event in recent years. San Francisco’s event is held in June, and San Jose moved its celebration this year to Aug. 21-22.
Oakland’s Pride festival began in 1997 at Preservation Park in downtown. As the celebration grew in popularity, it relocated to Frank Ogawa Plaza at Oakland City Hall.
Since the demise of East Bay Pride, the lesbian-focused Sisters Steppin’ in Pride, which takes place at Lake Merritt in late August, has filled the vacuum.
The event’s main purpose, other than to foster a sense of community among the city’s LGBT residents, is to raise money to build an LGBT community center.
For information, go to www.oaklandpride.org.