Norman Pride will postpone its 2021 events due to concern over rising COVID-19 cases in Oklahoma.
The organization released a video Tuesday, Aug. 31 announcing the 2021 Pride weekend events would be postponed until May 2022, citing the delta variant and rising COVID-19 cases in Norman as the primary reasons for the change.
The decision was made during a board meeting on Aug. 27, Norman Pride president Nathaniel Smith said. The board had previously decided to monitor COVID-19 cases throughout the first week of school in the area and decide their next steps from there.
Smith said the group quickly became worried about the rise of delta variant cases in children. At Norman Public Schools, masks are “expected” after the district saw 215 positive cases of COVID-19 in the 10 days leading up to Sept. 1.
The goal of Norman Pride is to be family-friendly, so the board was concerned with the safety of attendees at the event.
“The safety of the community is more important than anything else,” Smith said.
Additionally, attendance at Norman Pride-hosted events in the past couple months has decreased, Smith said. The board had also been fielding concerns from community members about the safety of hosting pride long before they announced that the festival would be postponed.
“We were getting the public’s support before they even knew it was support,” Smith said.
The event has been postponed to May 6-8 in 2022, according to the group’s website. The weekend also falls on Mother’s Day, but Smith said the group plans to do “something very special for the holiday” in addition to celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride.
The group elected to postpone the festival instead of canceling it to be “a little more optimistic,” Smith said.
“We wanted to provide a little hope,” Smith said.
Many vendors and parade participants had also already paid for their place in the festival. Smith said the board has already reached out to vendors and participants and been shown support for the decision.
The move to May was decided based on several factors, Smith said. Norman Pride has typically been hosted in May in the past, allowing for students to participate before they leave for summer vacation, he said.
The board also hopes that pushing the event to May will allow for the pandemic to come to a lull again, but is concerned about vaccination rates, Smith said.
“I see it every day, the good and bad sides of humanity,” Smith said. “All I can say is wear your mask, wash your hands, and get vaccinated if you can.”
Smith also said that Norman Pride will continue to host virtual events up until May and is “always available if you need us.”
“We will be back and better than ever next year,” Smith said.