February 19, 2001

Paul Wong
LSA seniors Amy Barber and Gina Chopp kiss during the Kiss-In on the Diag on Feb. 16, 2001. (FILE PHOTO)

After anti-gay protesters announced their intentions to show up at Friday’s Kiss-In rally on the Diag, the largest crowd in the event”s history turned out to show their unity as well as their pride.

The Kiss-In, sponsored by the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Affairs, capped Queer Visibility Week, which began Feb. 7. The rally was chosen as the week”s finale to support and showcase queer affection.

“LGBT people are often unsafe displaying public affection. The Kiss-In provides visibility for that affection and provides a safe place,” said Katherine Severs, one of the organizers of the event.

State Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor), the first openly gay member of the Michigan Legislature, started the rally by encouraging the crowd to come out of the closet.

Kolb also announced plans to work on extending anti-hate crime laws to include gay rights.

“We are not going to be quiet and we are not going to go back into the closet,” Kolb said. “Things are changing and things are getting better.”

Jim Toy, the founder of the first LGBT group in the country, praised Kolb and told him to move his fight to Congress.

“The closet is an upright coffin,” Toy said. “Michigan must come out of the closet of anti-queer bigotry.”

Frederic MacDonald-Dennis, director of the campus LGBT office, also spoke, praising the record-breaking crowd of hundreds for contributing to the “most successful week in the last 30 years.”

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