About 30 couples – and sometimes more than two people at time – exchanged vows in Storke Plaza on Friday afternoon, marking the 16th annual Queer Wedding at UCSB.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young officiated the ceremony, which was hosted by the Queer Student Union with the help of campus groups Friendly Undergraduate Queers In It Together, the Associated Students Queer Commission and Queer People of Color.
At around noon, participants formed a line starting at the steps to Storke Plaza that stretched back to the doors of the UCen. Participants included queers and allies, as all people were welcome to attend and be symbolically married.
QSU Co-Chair Tanya Paperny, a third-year women’s studies major, introduced the ceremony with a speech on marriage in general and the purpose of the wedding.
“Marriage is not the end-all, be-all,” Paperny said. “[This wedding] represents the culmination of years of struggle to have queer relationships recognized.”
Young gave the final speech prior to the procession, which he has done at nearly every past UCSB Queer Wedding.
“It is important to physically demonstrate support for the gay, lesbian and transgender community,” Young said. “Human rights are human rights – you either believe in them and stand up for them, or you do not.”
Following the speeches, the couples marched down the steps into Storke Plaza, while a photographer took their photos under a small balloon arch. Chris Eberz, a graduate student in computer science, played a mix of music during the procession, which began with the “Star Wars” theme song and included “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles.
Once all the couples, trios and quartets were standing in Storke Plaza, Young read the marriage vows.
“By the power invested in me as the vice chancellor for student affairs, I now pronounce you proud partners in the eyes of the community,” Young said.
Regarding the success of the wedding, Young said he was very pleased.
“It was another beautiful [wedding],” Young said. “It makes me pleased and proud to be here. I love it, and I look forward to the invitation [from the queer community] every year. This is an opportunity to make a critically important statement, institutionally and nationally.”
Stephanie Lee, assistant director of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Resources at the Resource Center for Cultural and Gender Diversity, said the wedding had a great turnout.
“It was very well-attended,” Lee said. “I am happy I can support them. I get to see a lot of people I don’t usually get to see, and it is good to see support from the community.”
Third-year political science and German major Justin Pabian participated in the ceremony for the second time, marrying one man. He said he was motivated to attend the event partly to draw visibility to the queer community.
“I wish I could be more active in the queer community,” Pabian said. “A lot of us are busy in classes and other organizations, and we can’t focus as much time as we’d like to [on the queer community]. Pride Week always allows us to come out and show support.”
Executive Director of the Gay Santa Barbara Foundation Charles Rice made an appearance at the wedding, promoting the upcoming Santa Barbara Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Celebration. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at Leadbetter Beach, he said.
“The secret is out… Pride at the Beach is back,” Rice said, quoting the campaign motto of the event this year.
Rice said more information about the event is available at www.prideatthebeach.org.