The Queer Student Union (QSU) hopes to see large numbers of UCSB students coming out to its rally today at noon in Storke Plaza.
Approximately 50 to 200 people are expected to attend the hour-long National Coming Out Day Rally, which will feature slam poet Alison De La Cruz, QSU Co-chair Tanya Paperny said. Paperny, a third-year women’s studies and history major, said QSU — an on-campus queer-rights advocacy group — will also host an ’80s-themed Coming Out Dance Party later this week.
Paperny said the purpose of today’s rally is to make students aware of the campus’ queer population and provide a safe haven for it to celebrate National Coming Out Day. She said she hopes the rally will provide a secure place for UCSB’s queer population to celebrate itself and its allies.
“Tomorrow is National Coming Out Day which was set aside to empower queer and allied folk across the nation,” Paperny said. “We’re trying to make people aware that there are queer people here and we want to make the campus the safest place for them possible.”
Paperny said she said she thinks the keynote speaker will help QSU connect with a broad range of UCSB students.
“I’ve never heard [De La Cruz] speak before, but I’ve heard she’s a really interesting and powerful speaker,” Paperny said. “She really wants to be on a personal, one-on-one basis with students.”
Because the I.V. community is not as receptive to the local queer population as QSU would like, Paperny said the organization tries to offer a place where people can be open about their sexuality.
“Isla Vista is a very unsafe and unfriendly space for queer students,” Paperny said. “There are strictly male-female dynamics and people constantly objectifying women. QSU works on creating a safe space for queer students to socialize and be themselves. We hope to provide an alternative to the Del Playa scene … I can’t imagine a queer couple holding hands and walking down D.P.” The Associated Students Queer Commission, Friendly Undergraduate Queers In It Together and the women’s studies department have all helped organize the rally, Paperny said. She said the women’s studies department was especially helpful.
“The women’s studies department is really queer friendly,” Paperny said. “They have helped us on the advertising campaign this year to promote the rally. Apart from our fliers, our expenses on the rally have been minimal.”
QSU also received funding from the UCen Board and from the Office of Student Life for both events, QSU Co-chair Chris Eberz, a second year computer science graduate student, said. He said the Coming Out dance on Friday cost QSU nearly $800 and he hopes the two events help unite UCSB’s queer population.
“There’s a strong queer community on campus and we’re just trying to bring people together in a safe space,” Eberz said.
The Coming Out Dance will be held at the Graduate Students Association lounge at 8:30 p.m. The event is free for attendees in ’80s costumes, but costs $2 at the door for people who are not dressed up. Paperny said QSU will provide food and music at the event.