As part of the first annual Human Rights Week, UCSB is celebrating Queer Rights Day today.
Today’s festivities, which will begin with a rally in Storke Plaza at noon, will focus on gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender and queer rights education, strengthening connections between gay and straight communities at the university and raising HIV/A.I.D.S. awareness. A litany of different activities is scheduled throughout the afternoon and will include speeches, discussions, workshops and a late night game of “drag bingo.”
Sinead Kennedy, a fourth-year biology major, said she and 15 other UCSB students held the starting banner in last week’s gay rights march in Washington, D.C.
“UCSB has one of the largest, strongest and most influential queer communities across American universities,” Kennedy said. “We see that wherever we travel and from everyone we speak to. We had a powerful presence in D.C. … We are the next generation to continue the movement, and it has become apparent that the community, especially within California, is looking to UCSB to lead the student activism.”
To accommodate modern queer topics, today’s programs will address a wide spectrum of issues faced by the queer community in the United States, fourth-year sociology and feminist studies major and co-chair of the Queer Student Union Hazel Putney said.
“The diversity of the events we’re having for the day speaks to the diversity of the issues we have in gay rights,” Putney said. “People have been focusing on gay marriage, especially in the last year, but tomorrow we’re also having a cooperative dialogue, celebrating National Coming Out Day and a workshop for HIV/A.I.D.S. awareness. It really speaks to the fact that there are a variety of issues that affect the gay community.”
The day’s festivities will begin today with a rally in Storke Plaza from noon to 2 p.m. to celebrate National Coming Out Day. Next, from 3 to 4 p.m., the GSA lounge will host a talk titled “The Clear People of Color Collaborative Dialogue.” Following that, the students who participated in the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. this weekend will share their experiences in the Student Resource Building multipurpose room, from 4 to 5 p.m. There will also be an HIV/A.I.D.S. awareness session starting at 5:30 p.m. in the same room.
The day’s events will stretch into the night as well. Starting at 7 p.m., there will a Trans 101 workshop in the MultiCultural Center Theatre, and to close the day the QSU will host shout-it-out bingo, also known as drag bingo, in the Hub from 9 to 11:30 p.m, featuring a new bicycle as a grand prize.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Michael Young, who acts as master of ceremonies during the university’s annual queer wedding ceremony, said human rights campaigns are essential for a healthy society.
“I’m kind of a fanatic, if you will, about issues of human rights and gay rights,” Young said. “All societies wrestle with issues, but I think that we do need to wrestle with them and really work towards a society where all people have access to the same array of rights, privileges and responsibilities as everyone else. I believe that’s a fundamental principle that should reside at the base of our society.”