Editor, Daily Nexus,
I never thought I would have any reason to be ashamed of being gay, but National Coming Out Day gave me a one.
I woke up Monday morning, excitedly anticipating the day’s festivities in celebration of the courage of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans and allies who come out to their families and friends in a society tainted with homophobia. Instead, I saw nothing but hate in both the Rainbow Procession that marched on campus and at the rally held in Storke Plaza.
Shudders ran down my spine as the approaching rainbow literally screeched enraged messages of “Fuck you” at those who do not support or are indifferent to queer causes. By the looks of disbelief on the faces of students who had stopped to watch the display, I could tell their reactions were a result of disgust and shock rather than a wish to lend support to the marchers.
The day’s hatred was epitomized by the open mic event in Storke Plaza where the leader of the Rainbow Procession interrupted a speaker who was in the middle of reading a short story. I found it puzzling that one co-president of the Queer Student Union would declare all forms of self-expression welcome at the mic, while the other co-president would try to censor a speaker.
From personal experience, I know that coming out to family and friends is frightening and emotionally taxing, which is why I hesitated to do so for the better part of my life. However, four years ago I was able to finally accept my rainbow colors and come out to my loved ones, thanks to the encouragement and support of queer students and resources here on campus. I was looking forward to cheers of pride at yesterday’s events, but was starved of such. Instead, I found the day clouded by the hate that some queers think they are entitled to foster. There was no joy, no pride and no positive images of the queer community to be seen.
At the beginning of the rally, a co-president of the Queer Student Union asked if there were any freshmen in the audience. Less than a handful raised their hands. I’m sad to say that I am glad for that. No one, straight or queer, should have witnessed the shameful display the queer community gave on Monday. Had I been a closeted freshman encountering that, I would have been driven further into the closet, not wishing to be associated with those images of UCSB queers.
This weeklong celebration of coming out has gotten off to a bad start, with the rainbow community having represented themselves very poorly. I can only hope the rest of the week’s activities show the queer community as the supportive, loving community it really is.