On Monday in Storke Plaza, queer students and faculty and our friends and allies rallied together to kick off the opening of Queer Pride Week here at UCSB as a time of celebration of identity and diversity. As many may have personally witnessed or read about in the Nexus, a man paced around with a large sign that read choice phrases such as “sodomite sinners” and “burn in Hell.” When he seemed to feel he wasn’t getting enough of the spotlight in front of the UCen, he walked down into the plaza and interrupted our event, until it was over. At this point, he changed his sign to a more general statement of fire and brimstone and shouted comments about members of the Jewish community.
For me, this was the first time I had ever seen anything like this in person, and I didn’t know quite how to react to it. Should I laugh at it and make jokes, ignore it or become visibly upset, and, if so, was I giving him exactly what he wanted? While I ended up mostly ignoring his presence and comments directed at me, the truth was that I was, in fact, upset by it, and it hurt me to see something like that strike so close to home, in my school, in my town where I live. After telling me that I would be joining Satan’s eternal luau (not his exact words), this man told me that my problem was that I didn’t fear God and that I should be afraid of my God. Personally, I will continue to love my creator rather than fear him and tell others that they are going to burn for eternity – shouting at them, asking them if they’ve “made the list.” I know this man does not represent the Christians at this school, nor does he represent the general mindset of people on this campus of any faith, but, nonetheless, he has done a disservice to every one of these people, and I am very thankful for those who confronted this man to tell him so. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done. This man hurt me, he hurt my friends and he hurt all of us by brining his hate to our school. Do I tell my mother that a total stranger called her child a sodomite and said that I was going to burn? What if you were the target of that; how would your parents feel? At the rally, this main claimed that it sure looked like “there weren’t that many of us.” While I still think the ratio (about 150 students for every one of him) at the event was in our favor, I want to show him just how wrong that statement was.
I’m asking all the students and faculty at UCSB, of any faith, who are able to show support for your peers to do so by attending the Queer Wedding on Friday, April 29, at noon in Storke Plaza, and by showing this man, and people who think like him, just how many of us there are that do not want his kind of hate on our campus. I understand that there are those who disagree with gay marriage; that’s fine. I do not demand your personal blessing of our ceremony (although all blessings are welcome). I only ask that you be present and show the solidarity of our school against this kind of intolerance. I promise you, it will mean the world to hundreds of people on this campus, people you don’t know, people you do know and all of them your fellow students and faculty just the same.
Chris Eberz is a graduate student in computer science.