Oxford Pride, in coordination with the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, will present Pride on the Plaza, serving as part of a festive conclusion to Queer Worldmaking Week, which lasts from April 24-30.
On April 30, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., participants can gather at the union plaza and learn about local and regional organizations, in addition to enjoying local art/food vendors, and music.
This year’s Pride on the Plaza event will build on the widespread success of last year’s Out in the Grove event, which marked a historic and symbolic transition for LGBTQIA+ awareness at the university, taking place on the campus’s central stage.
“Last year, as people began getting (COVID-19) vaccinated, we aimed to have an event for June to commemorate Pride Month,” Kevin Cozart, operations coordinator for the Sarah Isom Center, said. “It presented a challenge. After several years, we knew how to hold parades and drag shows, but we began to ask ourselves ‘how do you do something in the Grove?’”
In constructing Out in the Grove, Cozart also sought to replicate Issue Alley, which occurred concurrently with the university’s hosting of the 2008 presidential debate.
Issue Alley allowed national organizations and student groups to gather in the Grove and set up information tables.
“One of the few student groups set up that day was the Gay-Straight Alliance — the precursor to Oxford Pride — which I was the advisor for,” Cozart said. “We had a pride flag hanging from the tent and we were not sure what kind of reaction we would receive.”
Luckily enough, the reaction was positive, with Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee Chair at the time, detouring to speak exclusively with the members of the Gay-Straight Alliance, which greatly inspired Cozart to continue organizing queer-led/queer-emphasized community events.
When it came time for Out in the Grove, Cozart led the initiative.
“Until last year, no LGBTQIA+ event like that had ever been done in the Grove. Most past events on campus included club meetings, academic lectures, or ceremonial events, such as opening receptions for pride month, Lavender Graduation, etc.,” Cozart said. “To put drag queens in the Grove was an entirely new thing. It had to be memorable.”
Despite several logistical battles in coordinating the event, the Sarah Isom Center was successfully able to raise an unprecedented amount of funding.
“I started reaching out to contacts and the university partners came through in a truly unexpected way,” Cozart said.
Out in the Grove proved to be a massive success Cozart said, and Oxford Pride and the Sarah Isom Center hope Pride in the Plaza will bring an even greater level of attention.
Pride on the Plaza will allow participants to learn about Oxford Pride, as well as simply have fun following other Queer Worldmaking Week events, which include the Glitterary Festival on April 29 and the Oxford Pride Parade on April 30, to name a few.
For more information, you can visit the Oxford Pride website or follow the organization on Instagram @oxfordmspride.