September 19, 2022 By Vaseline

Non-profit organizations provide safe space for the community

In 2017, a group of students founded Pride on the Plains, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the LGBTQIA+ community in Auburn, Opelika and the surrounding area.

The story of Pride on the Plains, like all good stories, begins with a long-held rivalry.

“We were all sitting together one day and someone said Tuscaloosa has its own Pride organization and if they can, why can’t Auburn have it? And so we did it. I guess you could say it was a battle between the SEC schools,” said Seth McCollough, a music education student at Auburn and current president of Pride on the Plains.

McCollough began as Treasurer of Pride on the Plains for two years in 2017 and then served as Events Coordinator for the next two years.

Pride on the Plains’ mission, according to its website, is “to foster a sense of community through celebration, education, empowerment, and inclusion among Alabama’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and kindred peoples.” To fulfill the mission, the organization hosts events and fundraisers for the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies throughout the year.

For example, in October, the organization holds a pageant on October 15 at the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts. Early registration for this event lasts until October 8th for $30. On the day of the event, in-person registration begins at 3:00 p.m., followed by an interview at 4:00 p.m., with the event starting at 7:00 p.m. Entry for all spectators is at 6:30 p.m.

Her organization also hosts trivia at the Avondale Bar and Tap Room on North College Street in downtown Auburn once a month, which is a way for students to meet people at the club and join in on their own.

Bob Cloud is the current Treasurer of Pride on the Plains and has served the organization for three years.

Cloud said, “I just love to see how many people come to our events and how much joy people have coming to the things we’ve put together.”

Cloud explained that there was no such thing as Pride on the Plains when he was in school. Being a part of a community like Pride on the Plains is so important to Cloud because he can reach out to the people who were like him who didn’t have anyone.

“Pride on the Plains is something I wish I had grown up doing as a teenager,” McCollough said. “For me, this is someone I wish I could have had as a role model.”

Pride on the Plains provides many opportunities for community and connection within the Auburn area through education and engagement.

McCollough said, “We firmly believe that the more educated someone is, the more open-minded they will be.”

Pride on the Plains holds bi-monthly meetings for all students that are open to the public.

McCollough said, “Pride on the Plains is here to let people know, especially in South Alabama, that the LGBTQ community exists. We are here. We are proud. We’re outside.”

Chris Landry is the current secretary of Pride on the Plains and has an attitude very similar to Cloud’s.

“Coming from Houston, it’s a big city where pride is a lot more common and a lot more open,” Landry said. “To be in a place like Auburn where that’s not something that a lot of people see is quite moving, to see a lot of the allies coming to the events and celebrating the community.”

Fitzgerald Webb is the current Vice President of Pride on the Plains.

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Webb said, “Pride on the Plains is a great opportunity to create spaces for LGBTQ+, but also educational and outreach jobs.”

Pride on the Plains hosted a virtual drag event called Amplified that brought together diverse black queer talent.

Webb recalled Amplified as one of his favorite events: “Knowing that beautiful black talented people have their voice and can be heard through a space that we provided was a really great opportunity.”

Pride on the Plains hosts an annual Pride parade and festival in June. McCollough described these events as one of their biggest events at Pride on the Plains.

McCollough shared a story: “One of my fondest memories from Pride Fest was when it started raining, my husband started playing Lady Gaga’s ‘Rain on Me’. All of these students were literally dancing in the rain at Pride Fest, and it was a solidifying moment for me that we really did something good.”

Pride on the Plains hosts monthly Sunday family fun events. The next Family Fun Day is on Sunday September 18th at 3pm at Coffee Mafia. There will be board games, coffee, tea and a family-friendly drag show for all guests.

Students can get involved with Pride on the Plains through their social media platforms: @prideontheplains

Harlee Meydrech | cultural writer

Harlee Meydrech, a freshman in Pre-Public Relations with a dual minor in French and Spanish, is a culture writer at The Auburn Plainsman.

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