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Celebrate Oakland Pride

Whether you’re ready to march with the Oakland Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, September 10, or looking for LGBT things to do in the East Bay, here’s how to celebrate Pride at OMCA this month (and year-round).

That’s right: Two months after National Pride Month, Oakland does it all over again with our own local flair! Whether you’re ready to march with the Oakland Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday, September 10, or looking for LGBT things to do in the East Bay, here’s how to celebrate Pride at OMCA this month and year-round. 

Take a LGBT History Tour at OMCA

Here at OMCA, we celebrate by adding LGBT History Tours into the calendar every Sunday and select Fridays throughout September and June. It’s our chance to highlight LGBT history with personal, fresh perspectives in ways that go beyond gallery labels. 

History Docent Dena Watson-Lamprey shares that language around identity is a fascinating part of LGBT History Tours for her. “As our culture changes, our community changes. Some of the stories we tell are about people who may not have identified as LGBT at the time, but it’s  still a gender bending story.” 

Although these tours are a public experience, they can also feel very personal. “We hope that people connect with each other when on a tour at OMCA. People are often surprised by the history they learn on these tours, especially related to local Bay Area History, and it can prompt really great conversations between people of all ages,” says History Docent Juliane Monroe.

LGBT Tours are offered every Sunday at 12 pm in September, and on the first and fourth Friday of the month during Friday Nights @ OMCA. Ready to plan your tour? Take a look at our calendar of events here.

Pro tip: Ask your Docent about the stagecoach! 

LGBT Highlights at OMCA

Of course, these histories don’t only pop up during the months of June and September. OMCA features LGBT Californians’ history year-round in our galleries. Here are a couple of highlights you can explore on your own any time you visit. 

Step back in time to the 1960s with our Forces of Change exhibit. Featuring dioramas from two dozen very different Californians who volunteered to share their personal memorabilia—and memories—with OMCA. This gallery rotates periodically, but you’ll find stories from actual people whose diverse experiences reflect the real lives of Californians. This year’s focus on the Summer of Love brings us to reflect on a rich time for newly emerging LGBT history, civil rights, feminism, and gender equality.

Don’t miss our exhibit focusing on Hollywood and censorship in the twentieth century. Read a real censorship decree, then learn how LGBT artists worked around those rules to create their narratives by watching an excerpt from the 1995 documentary, Celluloid Closet

You won’t want to skip admiring the gorgeous robes from José Julio Sarria, on view in both our Art and History Galleries. They’re more than just beautiful, they’re historical: Sarria was the first openly gay person to run for public office! And he was a beloved drag performer, who often satirized state oppression when gay bars were the frequent targets of police raids and arrests. He also founded one of the world’s oldest LGBT charitable organizations (featured in past exhibition Over the Top: Math Bass and the Imperial Court SF).  

Finally, head up to the Gallery of California Art to experience contemporary Oakland-based artist Torreya Cumming’s multimedia installation, Notes from Camp (AKA Transdimensional Ghost Town Discotheque) (2016). It’s a playful blending of natural and artificial, bringing the fluorescence of disco culture and the homey aesthetic of a country home together. You can more about the artwork from the San Francisco Chronicle, too.

That’s only small sampling of gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer artists and related historical objects at the Oakland Museum of California. But it’s a great start! What are your favorite things to do during Oakland Pride Month?