Southern Oregon Pride festival kicks off Thursday, Oct. 11

The Pride Parade culminates at the bandshell in Lithia Park.

The 2012 Southern Oregon Pride Festival is almost upon us, and it’s looking to be bigger and even better than last year.

A celebration promoting equality, tolerance, and a sense of community among Southern Oregon’s gay community, this year’s festivities will kick off with the annual SO Pride Ball at the Ashland Armory on Friday, Oct. 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Setting the scene will be DJs Hope and Gimneye from the KSFM radio station and a drag show.

Tickets for the Ball are on sale at Paddington Station, standard rate is $20 with students and seniors getting in for $10. Tickets at the door are $25 and $15 respectively.

“This year’s Pride keeps getting bigger and bigger, better and better,” said Gena DuQuenne, founder and president of Southern Oregon Pride. “We’re taking it to the extreme, and we’ve never done that before.”

The Pride Parade will start at 11:00 a.m. Saturday , Oct. 13, beginning in front of the Ashland Public Library and finishing at Lithia Park at noon. The festival will continue in the park until 3 p.m., with live music and vendors, said Janelle Wilson, coordinator of Southern Oregon University’s Queer Resource Center.

The Pride Parade is a big draw during the S.O. Pride Festival

There will also be a potluck and sand volleyball in Garfield Park at 2 p.m., co-sponsored by SOU’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies program.

The QRC will have a float in the parade. Anyone who wants to help with float building, making decorations, or creating posters should head down to the QRC in the basement of the SU on Friday, Oct. 12. Students wishing to walk with the float should meet at 10:15 a.m. near the Ashland Public Library on Oct. 13.

SOU will also be hosting the Resource Centers’ Open House on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., as well as “Thursday’s a Drag” drag show in the Diversions Nightclub in the basement of the SU on Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m.

There is a lot of fun surrounding the week of Pride, but the real purpose of the event is to promote equality and tolerance. Thursday, Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day, which will feature Closet in the Courtyard, sponsored by the QRC, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the SU Courtyard. At 6:00 p.m., “Trained in the Ways of Men,” a documentary about the murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo will be shown in the Meese Auditorium. Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero will be present for questions afterward.

“Pride, to me, exemplifies SOU’s values of commitment to diversity and inclusion,” said Wilson. “It is really a beautiful show of support for our queer and allied community members.”

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