In recent years, Oxford Pride Week has provided an opportunity for LGBTQ+ citizens of Oxford and University of Mississippi students alike to be fully and completely themselves in a proud manner. For this year’s cycle, there are numerous opportunities for members of the local LGBTQ+ community, and allies, to come together.
Throughout the week, various LGBTQ+-focused groups come together to create a procession of events that support inclusivity. For OUTGrads, a UM organization that promotes community and among professional and graduate LGBTQ+ students and allies, this event is “Out in the Park.”
In an interview with The Daily Mississippian, OUTGrads leadersPresident Anthony Gottlich and Vice President Lilly Slaughter discussed some of the upcoming events throughout the week and how they have the opportunity to leave imprints on the attendees.
“‘Out in the Park’ is a community event for people on campus and off of campus to get together for a barbeque. We have a kickball game, and the Unitarian Church is going to host a storytime for children. It’s a nice way to kick off Pride because there are a lot of events, but this one’s pretty lowkey,” Slaughter said.
The duo shared that there are a few events following “Out in the Park” that they are eyeing to attend. For Gottlich, it is “Let Me Be Perfectly Queer: An Evening of LGBTQIA+ Poetry,” which will take place at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center on Wednesday, May 3 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Some of Gottlich’s excitement for the event is rooted in hearing work from one of his acquaintances.
“One of the readings is actually by one of my colleagues,” Gottlich said. “Dr. Maggie Graber has some really amazing poetry collections. I’m really excited to hear her readings and other people’s readings.”
Slaughter joined in,revealing that she is particularly interested in making a return to the Lavender Graduation celebration that is hosted by the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement. It will take place on Thursday, starting at 4:30 p.m. and wrapping up around 6 p.m.
“I’m really excited to attend the Lavender Graduation again. I graduated with my master’s of Southern studies last May and was a participant in Lavender Graduation, and I really loved being a part of that community,” Slaughter said. “I want to go support other people who are graduating.”
Gottlich feels that Oxford is “already a queer space.” He believes that Oxford frequently presents options for allies to the LGBTQ+ community to support them, with Oxford Pride Week being one of those opportunities.
“You don’t need to be LGBTQ+ to support LGBTQ+ people,” Gottlich said. “We have queer businesses in town. You can go eat there and support them. Being at Pride is a form of support.”
The OUTGrads president encouraged everyone to come to Oxford Pride Week in any capacity that they can; although, he offered just a small set of instructions.
“Two things: come and have fun,” Gottlich said. “Period. Support us.”
Slaughter echoed Gottlich’s promotion, as they believe that community is the best part of Oxford Pride Week.
“Seeing people show up and being in a community that doesn’t always get together at one time is really exciting, and it feels invigorating to have it all happen,” Slaughter said.
Oxford Pride Week debuts on Sunday, April 30. The full schedule can be accessed on the Oxford Pride Website.