Lamar Lounge is pairing with the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender studies to host a drag show this Wednesday, March 25 at 9:30 p.m. after a screening of the documentary “Small Town Gay Bar” at 5 p.m. at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Both the documentary and drag show kick off the 15th annual Student Gender Conference.
“The conference theme is ‘Space and Place,’ and it features research by graduate and undergraduate students, both at The University of Mississippi and elsewhere,” Sarah Isom Center interim director Jamie Harker said. “It is an interdisciplinary and multi-genre conference that includes academic presentations, music, painting, film, literature, and larger cultural institutions as they relate to gender and sexuality.”
“Our affiliates from across the disciplines play a key role in our conference. They encourage students to participate and we rely on UM students, their vision and submissions,” assistant director for the Sarah Isom Center Theresa Starkey said. “We have really engaged students from a variety of fields doing cutting edge interdisciplinary work that deals with gender and we’re excited about it. We want to put the conference on the map for scholars on our campus and from other universities. We want to make The University of Mississippi a leader when it comes to promoting this type of scholarship.”
The documentary, “Small Town Gay Bar” was filmed in 2006 and directed and written by Malcolm Ingram. The documentary focuses on the characters struggle with being openly gay in small Southern towns. It highlights on two gay bars, one in Shannon, Mississippi and the other in Meridian, Mississippi. A few of the cast members from the documentary will be present at a panel discussion after the film is shown. They will also be performing in the drag show at Lamar Lounge later that evening.
“The screening of Small Town Gay Bar at the Powerhouse and the drag show at Lamar Lounge came about thanks to the creativity of Matt Kessler, a brilliant M.F.A student at the University,” Starkey said. “Matt wanted to get involved with the Center and to be a part of our Annual Isom Student Gender Conference. The screening and drag show are his programming ideas. My job was to take his vision and figure out how to make it happen. We are so happy to have support from community members like John Currence, with City Grocery Restaurant Group, and Wayne Andrews from the Powerhouse.”
Chef John Currence, owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group, is very passionate about this event.
“I could not be more proud to have been asked to host this event. Oxford is a weird little town that has seen more than its fair share of gentrification and homogenization in the 25 years I have been here,” Currence said. “The fact that there are folks out there dedication to non-main stream entertainment is just fun. I love the opportunity for a unique moment and to give folks alternative venue to enjoy themselves. We are dedicated to making the Lamar Lounge the weird little joint that its original owner visualized.
“Theresa Starkey, who is working with organizing a series of events for the center, is a very dear friend. Gay rights is an issue that has been very fair to us and while so much of the conversation gets dedicated to ‘rights’ per se, I think we just want to promote inclusion, tolerance, and celebrate our populations rich diversity in our spaces.”
Starkey hopes this event will give people a chance to learn about and engage with the Sarah Isom Center.
“We want the Oxford community to learn about The Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies. We want to connect with people and organizations both on campus and in the larger community,” Starkey said. “One of our goals is to show the value of interdisciplinary studies, the humanities, and gender studies, what can be produced and the types of conversations that can take place. We want to celebrate and showcase what our University students are doing in terms of research and our conference gives them that platform. It allows UM faculty to come out and support students by being out of the classroom and in the audience, and by reinforcing their visibility be chairing panels and encouraging their students to participate.”
The fun doesn’t end there; Starkey said that more events during the conference include, a closing keynote by David Simon on Friday afternoon at 1:15 p.m. at the Lafayette County Courthouse. Simon is a MacArthur Fellow, an investigative journalist, a New York Times Bestselling author, and creator of some the most influential TV shows of the 21s century, The Wire, Treme, Generation Kill and he has new show in production.
On Saturday, March 28, cultural icon John Waters will perform his one-man show ‘This Filthy World’ at the Ford Center. Tickets for Waters show are free and available through the UM Box Office.
Both Currence as well as the Sarah Isom Center are excited about this event. Currence said food and drinks will be served at the Lamar Lounge during the drag show and he would love the opportunity to continue the show in the future. Donations will be encouraged but this event is free to the public. So come one, come all to this legendary documentary and drag show.
Molly Brosier is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.