By Malik McIntyre
Code Pink brought Oxford’s LGBTQIA+ nightlife back recently with its first event since the pandemic began. The June 30 event at Proud Larry’s is known as the premier LGBTQIA+ dance party around the city.
Wes Ngo, a drag performer at Code Pink, is one of many people who missed the electrifying events.
“One thing I missed the most about the event is just having fun and expressing myself,” Ngo said. “ Not only that, but gathering with friends, the LGBTQIA+ community, and allies.”
Code Pink has been gone from the city for over a year. Many party-goers and performers were hesitant to return to the dance floor.
“After what felt like years of not being on stage, I was unsure if I really wanted to do it again,” Ngo said. “Needless to say, it felt good to be back on stage and performing. When the crowd sings the lyrics of the song you perform with you and you’re just having fun, the reactions you get from making the crowd go wild, it makes it all worth it in the end.”
These events mean more than just dressing up and having fun for the attendees. Many who attend Code Pink have a more personal attachment to the celebration.
“Code Pink has not only instilled more confidence in me but has also allowed me to be able to express myself,” Christina Staten, an attendee of Code Pink, said. “I remember when attending my first Code Pink I was shocked and bewildered at how carefree the atmosphere was. The joy and happiness was infectious and radiating throughout the building and out onto the Square.”
The LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t have as many spaces where they see themselves represented. Code Pink allows people who share similar interests and experiences to connect in such an extraordinary way.
“Code Pink was always a way to gather the community and dance together to some of our favorite songs,” Staten said. “There is a feeling of camaraderie that goes along with being there and witnessing such a phenomenon.”
As Oxford transitions back to some type of normality, it will be interesting to see how big Code Pink can be. People are missing out on human interaction, and Code Pink gives that feeling back to them. Times like this are very important within a community of people.
“I know for the community, a lot of people don’t get to have this amazing queer experience in a safe space made for queer folk, as well as allies,” Ngo said. “Code Pink, in my opinion, for Oxford LGBTQIA+ and the Oxford community, in general, is getting to experience things many don’t get to experience in Mississippi. It allows growth in our state where most of us grew up in conservative towns — to meet new types of people and feel the love that radiates in the space that Code Pink provides.”
Code Pink’s comeback was perfectly timed to close out Pride Month. The extravagant themes and decorations have provided a new scene of comfort for many people.
“Attending Code Pink is a very freeing experience,” Staten said. “I always felt like the best version of myself when I got to sing and dance amongst people who I could tell felt the same way.”