Oxford holds ‘Pride Picnic’ during summer concert series

Credit: Kasey Turman

Credit: Kasey Turman

Oxford’s summer concert series has been held in Oxford’s Memorial Park for 38 years, but not like this.

Thursday, June 20 marked the first time Oxford held a Pride event, and it took place during the third of 12 concerts of Oxford’s annual concert series. More than 100 Oxford citizens walked through Oxford Memorial Park and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park with some donning Pride shirts and LGBTQ flags in their hands as part of the “Pride picnic” theme.

Andrew Garrison, who was tabling as part of Oxford Friends Meeting, a Quaker community in Oxford, said he never thought the event would get out of the planning stages.

“I’m astounded,” Garrison said. “I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime.”

Garrison said he was at the concert alongside members of the local Unitarians and Episcopal churches to welcome Oxford’s LGBTQ community to the event.

“We found it was really important to have a faith community welcoming response to the event because so many people think on the one hand, there are gay people and on the other hand, there are churches who frown on homosexuality,” Garrison said. “We thought, well, let’s let’s all stand up and show support and it’s remarkable how important that has been to gay people who have felt alienated from their faith and origin.”

Tables full of Pride flags and flyers based around acceptance were set up just 20 feet away from a historical marker memorializing lynchings of two Black Oxford citizens in 1877 and 1892. Garrison said the juxtaposition of what has happened in Oxford historically to what he was tabling for makes him excited for the future of the town.

Alongside the faith-based tables, PFLAG’s Oxford chapter took up residency in the park for the two-and-a-half-hour long concert to hand out flags, pins and candy while talking to the dozens of people who came up to the table. Rod Northcutt, a member of PFLAG, said people came up to talk about their experience in town and say they were proud to be wearing their Pride shirts.

Emily Shoker, a part of the event staff for Enjoy Oxford said the organization saw Pride month as a great time to add a theme to the concert alongside a great concert from Miami University’s Steel Band. She said the event brought the community together in a way that not many towns are able to in the summer.

Credit: Kasey Turman

Credit: Kasey Turman

“Oxford is such a unique community with a very tight-knit community,” Shoker said. “Events like this are nice because during the summer the community doesn’t get out a bunch. So something like this is quite nice because it gets people out of the house, it gives the businesses a chance to sort of get more business and it’s just a chance for the community to interact and come together for something that’s just very casual and enjoyable.”

The Jims Burns Bands will play from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 27 as the fourth artist of the summer series.

About the Author