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Pride Month Q&A: LGBTQ+ Resources at OU

Pride Month Q&A: LGBTQ+ Resources at OU

Student unfurls a large rainbow Pride flag near the Old Law building

Across the world, the month of June is designated as Pride Month, celebrating LGBTQ+ community members. To begin this monthlong celebration, we sat down with Erin Simpson, director of OU’s Gender + Equality Center, to learn more about LGBTQ+ resources at OU.


Q: What is the Gender + Equality Center?

Simpson: The mission of the Gender + Equality Center is to cultivate an affirming, educational and diverse community by focusing on LGBTQ+ inclusion, interpersonal violence prevention and advocacy for victims of gender-based violence. We accomplish this mission in a variety of student-centered ways, one of them being LGBTQ+ programs.


Q: What services does the GEC provide to the LGBTQ+ community at OU?

Simpson: The GEC is the home of LGBTQ+-centered programming, social events and advocacy for OU. Our focus in LGBTQ+ programs is to ensure that all students are able to find themselves in campus programming. We offer everything from campus drag shows to leadership opportunities to name change clinics.

The LGBTQ+ Program Advisory Board is a student-led programming group that creates events on campus like the annual Crimson and Queens drag show, the largest in the region.

The LGBTQ+ Student Alliance is a social group focusing on creating community for queer and trans students throughout the year.

Both groups also participate in the LGBTQ+ Mentorship Program, a collaboration with the OU LGBTQ+ Alumni Society. We pair first-year students with upper-year mentors, and upper-year mentors with an alumni mentor. The program fosters an environment that encourages self-discovery and community advocacy for our participants.

At OUHSC, Lumina is an interdisciplinary organization dedicated to supporting the OUHSC LGBTQ+ community and providing necessary educational, social and volunteer opportunities on LGBTQ+ health for all students.


Q: What types of trainings does the Gender + Equality Center offer?

Simpson: The Gender + Equality Center offers free, accessible LGBTQ+ inclusion-focused training for all three campuses. LGBTQ+ Aspiring Ally is our first step training in helping individuals learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and ways to be supportive. Aspiring Ally 2.0 is a way for individuals to continue along their path of allyship. Building upon previous knowledge base from introductory training, participants will learn more about gender identity development, specifically focusing on transgender and gender non-conforming identities. We often offer training for entire departments or staff groups and can schedule workshops for times that are most convenient for your area. All of our training can be requested from our website.


Q: Where is the GEC located?

Simpson: The Gender + Equality Center is located on the Norman campus in the Oklahoma Memorial Union, Suite 207. We house OU Advocates, the 24/7 free and confidential victim advocacy services, for all three campuses, gender based-violence awareness and prevention, training and development, and LGBTQ+ programs.

The GEC is attached to the LGBTQ+ Community Lounge, an open space for members of the LGBTQ+ community and friends to gather throughout the day, stop by between classes, watch a movie in the evening and generally create community. The lounge will resume being open at all hours in August 2021.


Q: How can people get involved?

Simpson: Students have multiple avenues for engagement through the student organizations or the Mentorship Program. LGBTQ+ faculty and staff across all three campuses can join the confidential LGBTQ+ Faculty and Staff Employee Resource Group for community building and advocacy. You can find out about the events and programming happening in the GEC by signing up for our weekly newsletter here. If there is a specific way you’d like to engage with the GEC, please reach out to us at or stop by our office. Also, the Gender + Equality Center’s online store is up and running with the official 2021 Pride gear!


Q: For people who are interested in becoming an ally for the LGBTQ+ community, what’s a good first step?

Simpson: We recommend signing up for an Aspiring Ally and then an Ally 2.0 workshop, as mentioned above. These workshops are great ways to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community and how to be supportive.


Q: Are there opportunities to participate in Pride celebrations?

Simpson: There are a lot of ways to get involved in Pride from all three campuses!

  • The Tulsa Pride Festival will be held June 25-26. The OU-Tulsa team is hard at work on their float for the PRIDE On the Mother Road parade on June 26 at 6 p.m. If interested in participating, you can sign up and find more information here.
  • The Oklahoma City Pridefest will take place the same weekend, June 25-26, in Scissortail Park. The OUHSC campus is participating in the parade on June 26 at 10 a.m. You can sign up to participate here.
  • Norman Pride will take place during LGBTQ+ History Month this year and will culminate in a Pride Festival, which will be held Oct. 8-10. More details will be available from the GEC as we get closer to that date.

Article Published:  Wednesday, June 2, 2021