NORMAN — In honor of National Pride Month, LGBTQ communities and supporters are gearing up for Oklahoma’s largest annual pride parade, and Norman is no exception.
“This is our opportunity to be loud, proud and present,” PFLAG Norman President Tyler Sellers said.
PFLAG, which stands for parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays is a national organization with the mission to “promote the health and wellbeing of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, families and their friends through support, education and advocacy,” Sellers said.
Sellers said about 50 people showed up to PFLAG Norman’s second annual pride picnic Saturday at Rotary Park, 1501 W. Boyd St. He said the picnic had a purpose to provide fellowship in the Norman community as well as to get PFLAG Norman’s float ready for Oklahoma City’s Pride Parade this upcoming weekend.
“It’s nice for everyone to come together and to support one another,” Sellers said.
Norman Police Chief Keith L. Humphrey as well as other representatives from the police department attended the event to show their support for Norman’s LGBTQ community.
“Minority communities as a whole have stigmas that their different,” Humphrey said. “But when you have organizations like PFLAG, who host events like this, people have the chance to come see what the groups about and get rid of that stigma.”
Additionally, Humphrey said events like the picnic allows citizens and groups to become educated and partner with other organizations like PFLAG.
“We are all citizens and we all have the right to be respected and express who we are,” he said. “In my opinion, the worst thing a person can do is talk about and perceive things they don’t know about without wanting to learn.”
According to Humphrey, the police department wasn’t really involved with Norman’s LGBTQ community, but that changed about a year ago.
“There’s never been a point of contention between police and the LGBTQ community, there just wasn’t an open dialogue,” Humphrey said. “We were able to sit down and talk about how we could come together and it’s been a great relationship ever since.”
Humphrey said he’s been a member of PFLAG’s chapter in Norman for the last two years, but he’s supported the LGBTQ community for several years prior to coming to Norman in 2011.
“I first got involved with the LGBTQ community during my time at the Arlington Police Department and I’ve loved every second of it,” he said.
OKC Pride Week starts June 23 at 39th and Pennsylvania Ave.; the OKC Pride Parade will be on Sunday.