Nearly 100 queers and allies came out yesterday afternoon to the National Coming Out Day rally in Storke Plaza to support each other’s identities.

The rally, organized by the Queer Student Union (QSU), was part of a nationwide campaign to celebrate the achievements and continuing battles of queer rights activists, said Tanya Paperny, QSU co-chair. Speakers at the rally talked about such issues as queer identity, stereotyping and the recent debate over whether U.S. military recruiters should be allowed on campus.

Keynote speaker and slam poet Alison De La Cruz said queers and allies should be more vocal about their identities and beliefs to show the public and those who are still frightened to come out that having an alternative sexuality or sexual identity is not unusual or dangerous. When she came out to her father as a bisexual, she said he was more accepting of her identity because he had had a gay friend.

“Sometimes we come out for ourselves,” Cruz said. “Sometimes for another person in the room who couldn’t say it.”

However, not everyone is as accepting of queer identities, said Vanessa “Vinny” Terll, a fifth-year College of Creative Studies literature major. Terll said the mission of National Coming Out Day — and the mission of queer activists — is to create “safe spaces” devoid of homophobia and prejudice.

“There’s still too many people whose choices are dictated by shame or by fear,” Terll said. “This fear of violence, name-calling and ostracism is a reminder of the other reason we have National Coming Out Day. National Coming Out Day also exists because nearly every day of the year, coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer, questioning, gender-queer or intersex can be dangerous and heartbreaking.”

During the open microphone portion of the rally, a few students accused UCSB of advocating harassment of on-campus queers because of its current stance toward military recruiters on campus.

Allowing recruiters on campus violates queers’ rights and makes them feel unsafe because the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” discriminates against them in its hiring processes, the students said. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy states that openly queer individuals are not allowed to serve in the military.

“How does the university expect us to go to class knowing that we’re unsafe?” said Janet Cardiel, a fourth-year global studies and Spanish major. “[UCSB] allows folks to come to campus who openly do not support who we are.”

Bill Shiebler, a third-year sociology and business economics major, said he encouraged students to boycott the College Republicans’ event featuring actor and writer Ben Stein on Thursday at 8 p.m. in Corwin Pavilion because Stein would be discussing his support for military recruiters on campus. Such support contradicts support for queer rights, he said.

“Let [the College Republicans] waste their money,” Shiebler said.

Besides trying to change military and university policy, Stephanie Lee, the assistant director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Resources, said students should try to change the attitudes of classmates and teachers. In many of her classes, teaching assistants use queer terms in condescending ways, such as calling negative things “gay,” Lee said. Students should not be afraid to object to such language, she said.

Cruz said keeping quiet about such problems benefits no one.

“The longer we stay silent, the longer we don’t talk to each other, connect with one another, the more distance there is between us,” Cruz said.

On Friday, QSU will host the Coming Out Dance in the Graduate Student Association lounge at 8:30 p.m. The lounge is on the second floor of the MultiCultural Center. The event is free for attendees dressed in ’80s costumes, but costs $2 at the door for those not in costume.

— Dyan Menezes contributed to this article