Roughly 50 students gathered in Storke Plaza on Friday for Pride Week’s annual Queer Wedding, demonstrating support for the LGBTQIA community.
Officiated by Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young, the event sought to provide a venue for students of all sexual orientations to gather in a display of acceptance. The afternoon also featured wedding photos, walks down the aisle and first dances for newlywed couples.
Young said the event served as a means for both students and administrators to protect the basic rights of all students.
“I am here to visibly demonstrate my support for gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, intersex and questioning community,” Young said. “As an ally, I believe that this is the right thing to do. Those of us in the leadership of the university [who] stand up for the basic and fundamental rights of people will stand up regardless of gender, race or sexual identity.”
Such demonstrations create an accepting space for students to continue fighting for equality regardless of official legislation, Young said.
“There have been attempts by some to turn back the clock, but whatever happens politically, our struggle to maintain the rights of our citizens will continue,” Young said. “Those of you here today are making a statement. The right to marry will be a significant step towards true equality.”
Queer Student Union Co-Chair Debbie Martinez, a third-year psychology major, said the nuptials promoted an inclusive environment for all community members to defend tolerance.
“We do what should be a very formal event, very informally,” Martinez said. “We try to take the political aspects away [and] allow everyone to participate and make a statement that we don’t care what society says anymore. It sucks that we’re pretending but that’s all that we have.”
Pride Week Co-Chair Hazel Putney, a fourth-year feminist studies major, said the week of events sought to protect the LGTBQIA community from the many hate incidents that have occurred in Isla Vista.
“It was really important to us to have this in I.V. and make a statement in I.V. because we’ve had a number of hate crimes and harassment cases in the Isla Vista party scene,” Putney said. “We want to have a visible presence in Isla Vista and on campus and create a safer environment for students.”
According to Martinez, the goal of the week was to rectify prejudice through education.
“We hope to reach a higher acceptance level with the community,” Martinez said. “It’s not always a matter of hate; sometimes it’s just ignorance. That’s why educating people is so important.”
Pride Week included numerous workshops and lectures as well as both professional and student-run drag shows, ending on Sunday with the Isla Vista Pride festival on Pardall Road.