Southern Oregon University showed its support for the LGBTQ+ community Saturday Oct. 8 as they walked in Ashland’s Pride parade put on by the Lotus Rising Project.
The parade itself was accompanied with a wide array of posters, signs, and rainbow colors as community leaders, business groups, and SOU students and staff took over Siskiyou Boulevard for the morning.
“I think it represents equity. That what we’re doing for the QRC [Queer Resource Center] is just welcoming people from every sexuality and gender and making them feel very welcome,” said Asela Kemper, student staff member of the Queer Resource Center.
Katie Douglas, student staff member at the Queer Resource Center emphasized the importance of education during Pride Week. To her it presents the opportunity to feel welcome to ask questions they may have for the LGBTQ+ community. “In case people have any questions they can come to the Q and ask questions if they need to,” said Douglas.
While the parade was full of supportive posters and community unity it was also met with opposing opinions. Shawn Cellim, who was accompanied by two others, set up at the beginning of the parade with a poster saying “Jesus Died For Your Sins.” It continued with a short list that said “Was Buried. Was Raised. Was Seen.” followed by “turn to Jesus from sin and be saved from hell.”
While he does not represent a larger organization Cellim emphasizes that he is simply part of a group of Christians that come together to “share the love of Christ and what that actually looks like in a society that’s opposed to God.” He stressed the fact that they weren’t protesting, rather sharing their love of God. “We’re not opposed to the LGBT, we’re opposed to the sins of humanity,” said Cellim. The group made no disruptions as the parade continued without any unexpected delays.
Pride Week has been in the works since this past summer. Lotus Rising Project (LRP), a youth nonprofit organization that celebrates diversity in Southern Oregon, has been responsible for coordinating and hosting many of the events for the week. Southern Oregon University was accompanied by its students, a variety of faculty and staff at the university, the SOU Hawaii club, Rouge Rainbow Elders, LRP, and SOpride, to name a few.
Students and staff of SOU had the opportunity to see the greater Ashland community’s pride and support. For Douglas, Pride Week serves as support, growth, an education, and a message. According to her it “shows the campus community that the Queer community is present and we’re not going anywhere.”