The Isom Center and UM Pride Network will host Oxford Pride Weekend for the second consecutive year Friday through Sunday, celebrating inclusion with a parade, drag queens and musical artist Big Freedia.
UM Pride Network President Daniel Dubuisson said he is overwhelmed with the support Oxford Pride weekend has received over the past two years. This year’s theme is “Liberty and Justice for All.”
“The message this year is that we are one nation, one people, one world,” Dubuisson said. “We want everyone to know that no matter the political climate of our country, we will always be a family and no race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity can change that.”
The Isom Center and UM Pride Network began planning Oxford Pride Weekend at the end of last semester. The groups said they have received an overwhelming amount of support from the community, as well as from surrounding regions. UM Pride Network will build on the momentum of last year’s turnout by adding more events and big-name performers.
The excess funds raised from last year’s Pride Weekend contributed to the funding of this weekend’s festivities. The two headlining events are a Big Freedia concert at The Lyric Friday night and the pride parade on the Square Saturday afternoon.
Big Freedia is a New Orleans-based rapper and ambassador for bounce music, who stars in the reality TV show “Big Freedia Bounces Back” on Fuse. Big Freedia has collaborated with stars like Beyonce and been featured in national publication Rolling Stone. She’ll be giving a performance at 8 p.m.
The parade will take place Saturday and could draw its largest crowd yet, with almost 1,000 people participating. The parade will begin on its route going down both Jackson Avenue and University Avenue at 2 p.m.
Grand marshals for the parade are alumni Johnathan Kent Adams and Blake Summers. Last semester, Adams created a pop-up art exhibit “Pulse: A Tribute” on campus with watercolor portraits of the 49 victims of Orlando’s Pulse nightclub shooting.
Other events during Pride Weekend include Code Pink at Proud Larry’s on Thursday night and Saturday night’s drag show at The Lyric. The Go Diva Extravaganza will feature performers from Tupelo, as well as guest queens from Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, for a special performance at the Lyric.
The final event of Pride Weekend is an OFF Film Screening: The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, which will be held Sunday afternoon at The Powerhouse.
Dubuisson said he is grateful for continued support from the University Police Department, Oxford Police Department, Ole Miss Communications and other university departments, as their presence provides a sense of security for all those attending this weekend’s events.
Senior English major Shelby Nichols said she is looking forward to attending Pride Weekend for the first time.
“I could not attend Pride Weekend last year because of studying for finals, but this year I’ve made sure to make time to attend,” Nichols said. “I was really disappointed that I couldn’t attend last year, so this year it’s a priority.”
The Isom Center and UM Pride Network said planning for next year’s Pride Weekend will begin this June or July. The organizations said they are working to improve the weekend-long event and make sure it’s a family-friendly.
Isom Center operations coordinator Kevin Cozart said the groups want an environment where everyone feels welcome and excited to participate.
“Our Oxford community needs to be a place where all are welcome, where all are accepted and where all people have access to liberty and happiness and justice,” Cozart said.