Home » Music, Festivities, and Queer Joy at Oklahoma City PrideFest

Music, Festivities, and Queer Joy at Oklahoma City PrideFest


Photos and Article by: Ally Arens

Performer Lineup: Aly & AJ, Adore Delano, Patrick Saint James, local drag artists

Venue: Scissortail Park, Oklahoma City, OK

Date: June 23, 2023

Being a queer, non-binary person in what feels like one of the reddest states in the nation, with new attempts at passing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation arising seemingly every week, can often feel like living in a nightmare. With the help of the Oklahoma Pride Alliance (previously the Oklahoma CIty Pride Alliance), though, members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike were able to enjoy a weekend full of queer joy and good times through musical performances, appearances by local queer-owned businesses, and a parade through Downtown OKC. The event’s theme was “Queer Joy: The Resistance”, which was very resonant given the importance of trying to find happiness even when life throws its curveballs your way. Though I was only able to attend the first day of festivities, being able to finally attend my first Pride event since coming out several years ago was nothing short of magical, albeit also very humid. 

Festival organizers did an amazing job of spreading out throughout Scissortail Park with many activities to keep attendees entertained. As a music photographer, my attention  was almost entirely fixated on the Main Stage. Though the festivities were originally set to kick off around 4 p.m., there were some delays due to thunderstorms that had rolled through the area earlier in the afternoon (this would turn out to be somewhat of a blessing in disguise, as though it created some major mud puddles, it also kept temperatures to a slightly more manageable level). 

After grabbing a bite to eat and perusing the local vendors, I made my way down to the stage area close to 6 p.m., just in time for Drag Hour. Festival organizers put together a fabulous selection of local drag kings and queens who were ready to strut their stuff for a crowd of enamored onlookers. Performers included Topatio, Nikita, Mariah Paige, Syren, Terra Nado Ali, Sativa Green, CEEJ, Maxum Delray, Anna Flactic Shoqqqq, and Mystique Enchantment. 

Next to take the stage was singer-songwriter Patrick Saint James, all the way from across the pond for one of his first United States performances (he’d also been at a different Pride event in western Oklahoma a couple of weeks earlier). The Irish vocalist charmed the crowd as he crooned his way through an emotional rollercoaster of danceable pop tracks and more melancholy moments, even sprinkling in a cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Party In the USA”, much to the audience’s delight. If you’re a fan of soulful queer pop in the veins of Greyson Chance and the like, be sure to give Patrick a listen. 

The following set kicked the energy level to new heights just as daylight turned to night with a performance from none other than RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Adore Delano. The crowd went wild as Adore sang and sashayed their way through an hour-long setlist of infectious pop tracks from their discography, including “My Address is Hollywood”, “Out of the Blue”, “Constellations”, “Hello I Love You” and “I Adore You”. Her 2017 album Whatever was noticeably absent, though this was likely due to its more alt-rock nature, and based on this Instagram post, she was likely saving it for the after-party at the Tower Theatre later that evening.

Finally, around 10 p.m. was the headlining set everyone had been waiting for from sibling duo Aly & AJ. I was ecstatic when they were first announced to be performing, as a longtime fan from their Disney Channel era who had yet to see them live. Though their setlist was made up almost entirely of more recent material, with several selections from this year’s With Love From and other recent releases such as “Joan of Arc on the Dance Floor”, “Pretty Places”, and “Take Me”, they satisfied those eager for a slice of nostalgia as they closed with their hit “Potential Breakup Song”. While I did wish they would have played their song “Rush” as well, given the connection many in the LGBTQ+ community have to the song, especially its chorus lyric “Be every color that you are”, the Michalka sisters put on a phenomenal set that kept the crowd dancing the night away. 

Overall, other than the Oklahoma heat that just won’t budge this time of year, I had a wonderful time at my first Pride festival, and I applaud the Oklahoma Pride Alliance for putting on such a great event and allowing the community to be able to have a day of Queer Joy in a time when we’re constantly being met with Resistance.

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