Despite the presence of a couple naysayers, the 16th Annual Queer Pride Week enjoyed a colorful opening yesterday with its Queer Carnival in Storke Plaza.
Attendees were greeted with a massage table, an art booth, snacks as well as information from the Student Health Sex and Relationship Interns. While the carnival only lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. yesterday, queer pride will be a focus of the rest of the week. Workshops will continue through the remainder of the week, concluding with UCSB’s infamous tradition: the Queer Wedding on Friday at 1 p.m. in Storke Plaza.
Groups such as the Associated Students Queer Commission and Friendly Undergraduate Queers In It Together, more commonly known as FUQIT, are participating in the week’s events.
A.S. Queer Commission co-chair and fourth-year global studies major Kalaya’an Mendoza said organizers hope the week’s events help queers to feel comfortable within the community, despite the fear and hate often directed toward them. In an effort to change the word to have a more positive connotation, “queer” has become the generally accepted term at UCSB for such groups as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered persons and transsexuals.
“Queer Pride Week is a celebration of queer and gender-queer identity,” Mendoza said. “It’s a way to educate the general community that there are still grave atrocities committed against queers.”
Such atrocities include recent incidents such as the one in Iran when two men were executed for being gay, Mendoza said.
While acknowledging the presence of homophobia, Mendoza said this year’s Queer Week opened with the jubilance of the Queer Carnival to emphasize the recent gains for queer rights in the U.S.
“Normally, we start with an opening rally but we wanted to start with a celebratory event because there were a lot of victories won by queer communities in recent years,” he said.
However, while Mendoza was giving a carnival welcome speech, one of two men wearing sweatshirts and hats emblazoned with the phrase “Trust Jesus” booed the crowd and gave a thumb-downs gesture, visibly shocking the organizers of the event.
The men said they were not affiliated with any group, but were on campus to preach Jesus’s teachings. They said it was a coincidence that they came on the same day of the Queer Carnival.
Queer Student Union co-chair and third-year women’s studies and history major Tanya Paperny said the group started the queer week yesterday as opposed to Monday out of “respect for the immigrant protests” held that day.
As for Friday’s ceremony, Paperny said the Queer Wedding is usually a well-attended event.
“This will be the 16th annual Queer Wedding; last year we had between 100 and 200 [people],” Paperny said. “It’s officiated by Michael Young, who is the vice chancellor of student affairs. Some of the participants are long-time couples. Some people come in groups of three or more … It can be whatever people want it to be.”
Yet, Paperny said the right to marry is not every queer’s priority during the pride week.
“Not everyone in the queer community is fighting for marriage,” Paperny said. “Many are more concerned about violence against queer folk. The right to marry is not the final frontier.”
Third-year Asian American studies major Yvonne Tran said she was participating in the carnival by making paper cutouts of hearts to decorate Storke Plaza for Friday’s weddings.
“I think this is a good intro with the carnival,” Tran said. “It’s a good space to learn what queerness is and to celebrate it.”
QSU advisor Jack Rivas said he has worked with queer issues student groups for many years, advising them on how to host such events. He said he thinks the Queer Carnival was a great way to start the week.
“I think it’s a clever idea to start with a carnival.” Rivas said. “It’s really a celebration that way. Then we can get into the education later in the week with the workshops. The purpose [of the week] is multi-faceted: celebrate; talk about the good connections we have working with other groups on campus; and educating the campus on queer issues and the various challenges that [lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons] face.”
Some of the main events scheduled for the week are a queer-ally workshop toda from 3 until 5 p.m. led by Rivas, the GenderFuck Lunch tomorrow from noon until 1 p.m. in the Arbor and Fem*Sex from noon until 7 p.m. in the Women’s Center on Saturday.
A full schedule and location of the events happening this week can be found at http://orgs.sa.ucsb.edu/qsu/events.html.