East Bay Pride celebrations have come a long way since the minimally structured Berkeley gatherings of the 1970s. According to www.eastbayvoice.org founder Merle Yost, this year's two weeks of LGBT-centered celebrations represent "the first time various community organizations and the City of Oakland have banded together as a larger entity to publicize Pride events."
East Bay Voice, "an online vehicle for the East Bay queer community to find itself," kicks off the celebrations with Saturday, August 14's afternoon "Out at the Ballpark." Up to three hundred LGBT folks will lavenderize Network Associates Coliseum to watch the A's play the Kansas City Royals (www.eastbayvoice.org/tickets).
The Third Annual Bay Area Black in the Life GLBT Pride Celebration, founded by Peggy Moore, runs from August 16 through 22; for more details, visit BBITL.net. Its centerpiece is the Second Annual Oakland International Black Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Film Festival, scheduled for the Parkway Speakeasy Theatre on Tuesday, August 17, from 6 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, August 22 from 3 to 6 p.m. This is one of only three black LGBT film festivals in the United States. Since Oakland is reportedly home to the largest population of GLBT African Americans and Africans in Northern California, festival founder Joe Hawkins stresses: "We're trying to produce a festival that is uniquely Oakland." Two of the festival's features, The DL and Ski Trip, were made by local residents, and Noah's Ark and Punk feature Oakland actors. Tickets are available only at the door starting 45 minutes before the first showtime, so get there early. (510-814-2400 or APEB.org)
Saturday, August 21 also brings the Nia Collective's family festival to the Big Rock area of Lake Temescal. Bring a picnic lunch; games and activities will be provided for children (noon-6 p.m.; 510-869-4403 or NiaCollective.org).
Saturday night at 8, the Oakland-East Bay Gay Men's Chorus hosts the Fifth Invitational Pride Concert at Oakland's Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church (info: 800-706-2389 or OEBGMC.org). This year it features the sixteen-member lesbian choral ensemble Voices, the hilarious Out on a Clef lesbian quartet, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, as well as the chorus. The groups have united to perform a rousing arrangement of "Anything Is Possible"; Voices and the OEBGMC will also present a "fast-paced, fiery setting" of Lorca's "With a Lily in Your Hands." Musical director Michael Carlson explains that OEBGMC has "a tradition of performing fine music, not necessarily LGBT-identified. Anyone who attends, including scary-music queens who have a passion for live choral performance, will hear some fantastic music."
If choral refinement is not what you're after, how about seventeen women playing the pants off big-band classics in tribute to the women's swing of the '30s and '40s? You can hear as much on Sunday, August 22 at 3:30 p.m., as Ellen Seeling reprises the Montclair Women's Big Band's popular swing party dance (info: 510-339-1832).
The Third Annual Sistahs Steppin' in Pride Celebration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 28, with the East Bay Dyke March. Assembling at that hour at the park between Grand and Lakeshore avenues, some 1,500 women "who recognize the necessity to come together from a space of Sistahood and Sistahlove" will march to the beat of a Spirit Drum heading to the day-long, family-friendly Sistahs Village in Snow Park. (510-551-8330 or SistahsSteppin.org).
For more information on all Pride events, visit www.eastbayvoice.org/pride
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