A group of about 50 students shouted “I’m queer!” as part of a rally held on the Women’s Center lawn yesterday afternoon in honor of National Coming Out Day.
The nation-wide event, which originated in Washington, D.C. in 1988, has been celebrated at UCSB for at least 10 years. The hour-long gathering eventually attracted about 80 people.
Kori Krysh, Queer Student Union publicity chair, spearheaded this year’s event. She said QSU hosted the rally in hopes of creating an accepting environment for queer students on campus.
“It’s a really great time for queer students to be heard,” Krysh said. “We make a safe space at UCSB.”
The event featured a podium decorated with a rainbow flag, where queer students could take the microphone and share their experiences with coming out, relate their fears or come out for the first time. A board was also set up where students could write how they felt.
Many attendees identified their sexual orientation through their clothing. Several students wore black “queer bomb” shirts, which were festooned with hot pink bombs that read “queer.” One woman present at the event held a rainbow flag and wore a shirt she designed herself that read, “Closets are for clothes.”
Also present at the rally was campus group Friendly Undergrad Queers In It Together, more popularly known as FUQIT. The group is a queer and ally social club founded in 2003. Its members said they attended the rally because of their affiliation with queers on campus.
“We’re here in support of the event,” Adryan Caron, co-chair of FUQIT and a fourth-year religious studies and sociology double major, said. “We represent a lot of the queer community on campus.”
Second-year sociology major Carlos Guerrero, like many others, said he was passing by the rally on his way to class when he saw the eye-catching rainbow flags and balloons and heard the personal stories being told at the microphone.
“It’s interesting and important, and something that affects us all,” Guerrero said.
Other students present at the rally expressed support for those sharing their stories.
“I think it’s a positive and tolerant thing,” Ryan Lockwood, a fourth-year dramatic arts major, said. “Just to see that people are out there supporting each other is great. Everyone’s sharing stories that are all similar. It’s comforting.”
One woman showed her appreciation for QSU at the microphone by saying that she felt as though its members were her family. Other students told stories about how previous National Coming Out Day rallies had prompted them to be more vocal about being queer and gave them the courage to come out to their families and friends.
Professor Leila Rupp, Women Studies Dept. chair, told attendees to, “Be out, be proud, be happy,” summarizing the general mood of the rally in a few words.
Malek Guerbaoui, a first-year biopsychology major, said he saw the rally as a proclamation of its attendees’ unity in their sexual orientation.
“It’s just a statement: We’re here, we’re queer, without being clich