MSU students weigh in on Starkville Pride victory

MSU students  Mandie DiMarco, left, and Jordan Davis Both spoke in support of the Starkville Pride parade. The Starkville Board of Aldermen approved the parade Tuesday, changing its previous vote against the event. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)
Staff Writer

On Tuesday night, the Starkville Board of Aldermen voted in favor of the proposed Starkville LGBTQ Pride parade, reversing its previous decision against the parade.

News of the parade’s approval was met with celebration outside Starkville City Hall, and prominent voices on both sides of the issue taking to social media to express their views. Not long after the initial vote against the parade, Mississippi State University officials told the SDN it was not taking a side on the issue.

Following the vote in favor of the parade this week, the SDN asked MSU students what they thought.

Sierra Laltrello, a junior meteorology major from Rockmart, Georgia, spoke in support of the parade.

“I think the Pride parade is a wonderful way to express who they really are, and to be able to express that and have a safe haven of them being able to just totally be free and say ‘here we are. This is us. We are happy,'" Laltrello said. “I’m so glad it’s happening.”

Laltrello said she had been following the issue, and had some friends in the grassroots Starkville Pride organization.

Jordan Davis, a freshman kinesiology major from Tupelo, also spoke in favor of the parade and described her feelings following the initial no vote.

“I saw one of my sorority sisters post something on her Facebook, and when I found out that we had at first, denied the parade, I was kind of upset with it, because we do have such a large (LGBTQ) community here,” Davis said.

Davis said she was also concerned about the negative publicity following the first vote.

“We have a huge gay community here,” Davis said. “I think this will be good for the town of Starkville. We don’t want to be viewed negatively by other people.”

Mandie DiMarco, a freshman kinesiology major from New Orleans, said she was concerned about the message the first vote sent to the world.

“I think people have a lot of views on small towns, and I feel like this will kind of be a way to shut down those views of people saying ‘oh, small towns are really conservative, and they don’t think that anyone else should be accepted if they don’t fall into this box,'” DiMarco said. “I think it’s a good way to say that we’re not all like that.”

However, not everyone was thrilled with the parade.

Ben Wright, a sophomore secondary education-mat major from Oxford, said he was uncomfortable with the parade, citing his religious beliefs. However, he said the world at large had a tendency to be hard on the LGBTQ community.

“I won’t be there,” Wright said. “I don’t agree with it, but they’re exercising their freedoms as Americans, and I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

While he was more supportive of the parade than Wright, Curtis Prehn, a senior computer engineering major from Bay Springs, also cited the group’s freedom to expression.

“The freedom of speech, the freedom to assemble is very important, and people that want to peaceably do so shouldn’t be able to be blocked, especially for something that is very present in today’s culture in terms of the dialogue between people,” Prehn said. "It’s a very important topic to talk about, so it shouldn’t be blocked from being spoken about or being accepted."

Prehn’s roommate, Dylan Cuevas, a junior computer science major from Raleigh, Mississippi, and a member of the Starkville Pride parade planning committee, offered his take.

“It’s important to be inclusive in society, especially now that it’s 2018,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas said he was “ecstatic” after hearing of the vote results.

“I want to go to every single event if possible,” Cuevas said. It probably won’t happen because of school, but I’ll try and make it happen.”

Starkville Pride will hold events surround the parade on March 23 and March 24.