OAKLAND -- The Oakland Pride festival was reborn in response to Proposition 8, and, if this year's lineup is any indication, it will long outlive the overturned anti-gay marriage law.

Oakland's own En Vogue, who topped the R&B charts two decades ago with the hit song "Free Your Mind" will headline a day full of music, food, games and wedding ceremonies Sunday in Oakland's Uptown District.

"It's definitely going to be a fun time," organizer Carlos Uribe said.

Oakland first started playing host to an East Bay pride celebration on Labor Day weekend in 1997, but the event slowly got folded into the city's Art + Soul festival before petering out after 2004.

After state voters outlawed gay marriage five years ago, several community members decided to rekindle the event. Although the city overwhelmingly backed gay marriage, organizers thought it was important for gay people to become more public in the city and build relationships with churches that had backed Proposition 8.

"The idea was that if we ever had to go back to the polls, we could change the outcome by just being present in our community," said Amber Todd, the festival's chairwoman.

The strategy worked, Todd said. "I've never felt as welcomed as I have since Pride has been on the scene," she said.

Oakland Pride bills itself as being slightly more subdued and family-friendly than San Francisco's celebration at the end of June.


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There is a children's play area and a wedding pavilion, as well as four music stages and a late-night afterparty.

Organizers are hoping to draw 50,000, although the Bay Bridge closure could dampen attendance. The outdoor festival is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, with the entry gate at 20th Street and Broadway. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $5 for children younger than 12.

Some streets will be closed shortly before and after the event, from 18th to 22nd streets between Broadway and Webster Street. All of Franklin Street between 18th and 22nd will be closed. Additionally, there will be a nighttime street closure outside the Bench and Bar nightclub at 17th and Telegraph Avenue for the afterparty.

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435

If You Go:
WHAT: Oakland Pride Festival
WHERE: 20th Street and Broadway
HIGHLIGHTS: En Vogue and four music stages
COST: $10 general admission; $5 children under 12
MORE INFO: For more information, visit www.oaklandpride.org