left to right : James Cox (Board Secretary & Director of Outreach), Olaywa K Austin (President & Chief Executive Director), and Avery Z Hines (Program Director) of Oakland Black Pride Credit: courtesy of Oakland Black Pride

Sign up for our free newsletter

Free Oakland news, written by Oaklanders, delivered straight to your inbox three times a week.

Oakland Black Pride, the “first and only Black-led Pride celebration in Northern California,” is back this week, having kicked off Wednesday with the Pride Opening Reception Dinner at Mimosa 2 on Grand Avenue. 

The festivities continue Friday through Sunday with five larger events across Oakland.

On Friday at 6 p.m., a pub crawl will begin at alaMar and continue on to First Edition, Que Rico, Tribune, and then Understory.

The Queer Expo is the next event to follow on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Loom. Queer vendors will set up their wares and service with the target demo being Black and brown, LGBTQ+ people. The expo is billed by festival organizers on their website as “hands down the festival that makes [OBP] most happy” as “watching the power of the Black, queer dollar is a whole vibe.”

Later that night, the HAPPY HEREAFTER party is happening from 9 p.m. until late at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, with the hip-hop trio 3blackkids slated to perform. Joining them will be Sterling Victorian, an artist who aims to empower listeners through her unique blend of hip hop, alt-rock, and reggae. The party will also be attended by body-painted muses and queer + trans BIPOC aerial pole dancers. 

After a long night, Oaklanders can enjoy Black Pride Brunch at Bardo Lounge, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The brunch will be curated  by chef and food activist Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollies fame, with dishes including char-grilled jerk chicken, buj sol, summer tomato and salted cod cold salad, roasted street corn, and more.

Oakland Black Pride rounds out with a BLACK MASQ gala at the Midtown Ballroom on Sunday from 9 p.m. until whenever. Billed as the festival’s premier event, it aims to blend the mystery of masquerades with contemporary Oakland night life. 

Experimental musician serpentwithfeet will be performing at the gala, with tickets starting at $50. The ticket sales will be donated to “programs and services designed to empower our evolving Black, LGBTQ community.”

But Oakland Black Pride is about much more than hosting events during Pride Month. For organizers, its about circumventing traditional understandings of what Black queerness should be. 

In a recent podcast appearance, OBP President and CEO Olaywa K. Austin said the organization is about helping to “re-queer the nation” and “give Pride back to the people.” The festival is just one way the nonprofit is working to create community and allow people to “recognize us in this particular space that we’re now in as Black queers, continuing to move the needle forward.”

You can learn more about this week’s events and about Oakland Black Pride’s other initiatives on the organization’s website

Luke Wrin Piper

Reporting intern Luke Wrin Piper comes to The Oaklandside from the student staff of The Citizen newspaper at Laney College, where he has been covering the Peralta Community College District throughout the pandemic. He began his journalistic turn as a sports writer before branching into faculty and union coverage, photojournalism, and local government spending. He is a member of the Pacific Media Workers Guild and was formerly an engagement intern at On Spec Podcast, an international podcast based in Istanbul. His writing and photography have earned recognition from the Journalism Association of Community Colleges.