The Diag was filled with students Friday, proudly sporting rainbow-colored ribbons and holding signs that proclaimed “Gay, Straight, Black, White, Same Struggle, Same Fight,” “Gender Queer and Here to Stay,” “Bi the way,” “Love 1 Another” and other such messages to support unity.
The crowd gathered in the Diag for the Kiss-In Rally, the last in a week of events promoting equality for the LGBT community. Many gay and lesbian couples who are often afraid to show affection in public gathered to publicly commit an act that often raises eyebrows and remove the taboo that exists against such public displays of affection.
Participants radiated energy and eagerness as they held cups of hot chocolate provided by the New Life Church, while cheering on speakers.
Among those present were members of the LGBT community, Allies of the LGBT community and interested listeners.
Several speakers stood up before the crowd and spoke of publicity, told stories and jokes and some sang songs. One speaker mentioned that “any visibility is good visibility, even if it’s negative.” The general topic was that the LGBT community is no longer content to sit in the shadows and that people should make their voices heard.
The rally was organized by students of the LGBT commission. “The (LGBT) office is so proud of all the students who organized the event. They do a lot of hard work,” said Jennifer Almquist, Interim Coordinator of Student Development and Programming for the LGBT office. Almquist coordinated the students who actually planned the event, and said that she likes to see students getting involved with the organization and planning so that people can see that it is not just the office or faculty arranging such events.
According to Andy Betka, Co-Chair of the LGBT commission, the event was quite a success. He said that it felt good to see such a high turnout.
Brittany Allen, Co-Chair of the LGBT commission said of the rally: “I am glad it pulled together well.” For the past two months, she and others had been putting a lot of work into organizing and publicizing the rally.
She added, “I’m glad to see new faces … it is very satisfying to me.” Both she and Betka said they were pleasantly surprised at the turnout.
The rally lasted almost two hours and shortly before 1 p.m., Allen stood at the podium and announced, “This is the time we’ve been waiting for!” The rally ended with good-natured kisses and hugs.