On Saturday, members of Southern Oregon University’s (SOU) students, faculty and staff once again threw their support and participation behind Lotus Rising Project’s annual Ashland Pride Parade.
The parade and the university’s participation in it is meant to deliver a message of diversity, and acceptance throughout the community. The SOU Campus is ranked in the Top 30 LGBTQ-Friendly Universities by Campus Life, and students are one of the main reasons why.
“For Pride they [Lotus Rising Project] always do the parade, and there’s a festival afterwards. Southern Oregon University has always been a part of that collaboration since it first started.” said Thomas Arce, coordinator of the Queer Resource Center.
“Really what we do is we try and get SOU’s participation in Rogue Valley Pride. Every year we have anywhere from 150 folks, either students, staff, or faculty, walking with the SOU group in the parade,” he said
Banners, drums, and rainbow everything– Siskiyou Blvd. was packed with members of the LGBTQ community and allies who came to show their solidarity. People of all ages, from many walks of life, marched in the parade.
“The coolest is that there’s churches that come. There’s like three in town that are super like– yay gay.” said SOU senior Taya Dixon.
Although there isn’t a parade every weekend, pride doesn’t have to stop every other day of the year. The Queer Resource Center (QRC) is continually working at SOU for visibility and support of the LGBTQ community.
The QRC has an education outreach team that enacts changes made in the classroom. “To me when I think about the Queer Resource Center, yes it is a physical space here on our campus, but also there is work that comes out of that space.” said Arce. “I think about the collaborations we do with academic affairs. We go in and we work with the faculty on queering some of the curriculum. Making sure that content is not always from a white-male, hetero-normative perspective.”
The day before the parade, students held a sign-making event in the SU Diversions Room to make banners out of their messages. Each student may participate in pride for unique personal reasons, but a message of positivity is at the heart of it all.
Tiara Primus made a sign that read, “We Support Gay Frogs!” a reversal of an Alex Jones quote. “Although this sign is a meme, it still shows that it doesn’t matter what you’re gonna try to say about us, or throw in our face, we’re just gonna throw it right back,” said Primus.
The QRC plans events throughout the year for students to get involved. In November the QRC will host a brunch for queer and trans students of color, intended to bring visibility to the students of color who belong to the queer community. Date to be determined. Trans day of remembrance is also at the end of November, and provides a day for acknowledgement of the violence committed against the members of the trans community.