Man uses Facebook to plan Tahlequah, Oklahoma's first Pride event

Carden Crow and his spouse, Shronn, just wanted to have a picnic one day with all their friends, since they weren’t going to be around for the Tulsa pride parade, little did they know that there fifteen-person picnic would turn into an event with over 600 attendees.

Carden created a Facebook event for the picnic he was having, and within the first week, 50 people had joined the event. Soon, the guest list reached 100.

“Facebook did exactly what it’s there for. More than 5,000 people saw the event," wrote Carden. "I had no idea it would get this big. I thought maybe 15 people tops would come."

Carden couldn't believe how many people were coming and realized that this event couldn’t be hosted in his backyard anymore. He reached out to the city and got a permit to have the picnic at the nearby park. As the days past more and more people continued to RSVP to his event, he couldn’t believe it. Carden just realized that he just might have started the first LGBT Pride event in his town of Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

As as the event date neared, Carden, Shronn, and their friends came together to make it happen. Shronn organized a flash mob, and a few drag performers from Tulsa volunteered to perform. A local vendor asked to set up a booth to support the event, and a DJ offered his services as well.

As everything was coming together, Carden couldn’t believe how much support he was getting. When he was in school 10 years before, he had a hard time getting the support he needed from the Young Allied Gays group that he was a part of. Though there was some opposition to Carden's Pride event, the town was on his side and let the event continue as planned.

As the day arrived, Carden prepared for any protestors who might try to ruin their Pride event, but as it turned out, there was no one trying to sabotage the day, which was full of celebration from start to end.  About 600 people showed up from a town of 1600, making for an amazing turn out. There were kids running around with flags, face paint and balloons, and people were happy to bring their families to such a great gathering.

A very special moment for Carden was seeing a local teen at the event that he'd seen before aroung town. Carden always wanted to talk to the teen because he knew that he was gay, and he wanted to reassure the young person that he wasn’t alone in this town. The teen told Carden that this was his first LGBT event, and that he was having a great time. His family was coming around to the fact that he was gay, so that was a great feeling as well.

After the first Tahlequah Pride, Carden and the group that helped him organize the event felt so inspired that they filled out the necessary paperwork and formed a non-profit organization called TahlEquality. They will be raising money and developing community outreach programs for young people who identify as LGBT,and for anyone that is struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identity.