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Oakland issues second Pride Month Proclamation 

Orange County School Board issues Pride and Pulse Remembrance Proclamation. 

girl with Pride flag
"We are showing love and openness that I think should be celebrated," said Carlos Esquivel who spearheaded the effort behind the Town of Oakland's Pride Month Proclamation. Photo: gpoi

The Town of Oakland Tuesday issued a proclamation during its commission meeting that officially names June Pride Month. This is the second year in a row that the commission has issued a proclamation for Pride Month, which is dedicated to honoring the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for civil rights. 

Pride Month is celebrated in June to mark the June 28, 1969, police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village. The raid sparked riots as gay men fought back against police harassment, which came to be known as the Stonewall Uprising and the start of the gay rights movement.

“A little town like Oakland is leading the way,” said Carlos Esquivel, 41, a flight attendant who was instrumental in making Oakland's proclamation happen. “I don’t see Ocoee, Clermont, Winter Garden, none of these towns doing something like that. So we are showing love and openness that I think should be celebrated.”

Esquivel spoke after Oakland Mayor Shane Taylor read the proclamation. His words were met with applause from the 12 people who attended the meeting. 

The proclamation will be displayed at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center throughout the month of June.

Framed Pride Proclamation
Oakland's Pride Month Proclamation will be on display at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center through June. Photo: Courtesy of the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center

Orange County Public Schools also issued a Pride and Pulse Proclamation at its Tuesday board meeting. Speaking at the meeting, Clinton McCracken, president of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association, thanked the school board for supporting the LGBTQ+ community and for “proclaiming June as Pride and Pulse Remembrance Month.” 

McCracken added that as a member of the LGBTQ community who grew up in a time when such proclamations were not made, “it makes a huge difference when people are seen and heard …. when that shows up in the newspapers or that shows up at schools, even people not in public schools, there’s a ripple effect. People who grew up in a time where that wasn’t the case, they feel that. And they have told us that in the past, so thank you for that.”

Clinton McCracken
Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Clinton McCracken thanks the Orange County School Board for its Pride and Pulse Remembrance Proclamations. "It makes a huge difference when people are seen and heard."

Ocoee and Winter Garden and the town of Windermere have no plans to issue Pride Month proclamations, nor are there plans to mark the anniversary of the June 12, 2016, Pulse Nightclub shooting, the second largest mass shooting event in U.S. history in which 49 people lost their lives.

Last year, Ocoee posted an In Memoriam marking the anniversary of the Pulse tragedy on its city Facebook page. There are no plans to do so again this year, according to Joy Wright who handles the city’s public relations and social media. In Winter Garden, last year, approximately 20 demonstrators showed up to a city commission meeting on the one-year anniversary of the city passing its 2022 DEI Resolution, to protest the commission’s refusal to issue a proclamation to support the city’s LGBTQ+ community in the face of escalating anti-gay and anti-trans legislation from Tallahassee. Human Rights Campaign notes that 1 in 5 hate crimes are now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias, with a near 14 percent increase in hate crimes based on sexual identity from 2021 to 2022 and a 33 percent jump in crimes based on gender identity. 

In Oakland, the push for the Pride Proclamation began two years ago when Esquivel, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, started questioning if the town had ever issued its own Pride proclamation. He said the town seemed open to the idea, though it was too late for one to be issued in 2022. 

Elise Hui, Oakland town clerk and assistant town manager, said in an email that Esquivel submitted a request for a proclamation for the next year, and in 2023 Oakland followed through with its first Pride Month proclamation. Hui told VoxPopuli that she wrote the proclamation and the brief history of Pride Month.

Oakland's 2024 proclamation states, in part:  

WHEREAS, June has become a nationally recognized moment to celebrate and honor the way LGBTQ+ Americans have overcome adversity and enriched our society; WHEREAS, the Town of Oakland strives to be a community where everyone is celebrated for our differences, rather than being limited by what might divide us; Now therefore I, Shane Taylor, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Mayor of the Town of Oakland, Florida, and on behalf of the entire Town Commission, do hereby proclaim June 2024 as “LGBTQ+ PRIDE MONTH.”  

“You shouldn't sit there and hate somebody because they think some way differently than you do or live a lifestyle that’s different than yours. That doesn't matter,” Taylor said in a brief interview after the town commission meeting. “Simple right… life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”   

Esquivel said that four years ago, when he moved into the Longleaf at Oakland neighborhood, he was surprised to find there were more LGBTQ+ people in Oakland than he thought there would be. He found several LGBTQ+ neighbors and has met many allies. Even better, there’s been no backlash against the Pride Month proclamations. Nor have his social media posts about LGBTQ+ issues drawn any hateful comments. 

So, Esquivel, who’s become Oakland’s de facto Pride guy, is already thinking ahead to next year’s Pride Month. He’d like to curate a Pride exhibition at the Healthy West Orange Arts and Heritage Center, which would include LGBTQ+ history from Oakland and the surrounding municipalities. At some point he would love to organize the town’s first Pride Parade. He’s not sure if Oakland’s community is large enough to support such an endeavor, but he said in an email that a Pride Parade that included people from Oakland, Winter Garden, Ocoee, Windermere and even Clermont “would be nice.” 

“Sky’s the limit, right?” 

1 Comment

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han gu
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