This Spirit Day I had three boys propose to me. My friend had seven girls propose to her. My other friend had two boys and three girls propose to him.
So they weren’t real proposals, but that’s how my Gay Straight Alliance honored Spirit Day. We wanted to go beyond wearing purple so we took it a step further. We wanted to do something that would really get people talking. A group of students wearing purple catches a person’s eye. A marriage proposal gets a few onlookers. But en-masse marriage proposals from gay and allied students, all dressed in purple, really earn a person’s full attention.
Some of these stares came from smiling faces, some came from very confused faces, and the rest came from… well let’s just say their faces weren’t exactly smiling. I go to California State University, Long Beach, which many might think is a very LGBT friendly campus. For the most part they’d be right. But when you go to a school with such a diverse population, problems can sometimes arise.
The most infamous incident of LGBT bullying on campus involved a transgender student who was attacked on campus. The student was attempting to use a restroom when he was attacked and had the word “it” carved into his chest.
Most of the members of the GSA feel as though this attack of a transgender person was an isolated incident and they tell me they feel safe going to school. But it still concerns them that such an incident happened. They also say there is a connection to be drawn between this incident and the lack of awareness of what it means to be LGBT on campus. Every year we hold events like same-sex marches, transgender awareness panels, and even our annual Queer Hip-Hop show. A few of us even led the Long Beach Pride parade this year, but we still feel as if we are largely invisible on campus.
Can you really miss this group?
To honor Spirit Day we staged several same-sex marriage proposals all over our campus. It was not only our call for an end to bullying, which is a very personal issue for many of our members, but it was also to prove to our campus that we do exist and that we are just your average students wanting our voice to be heard. This was important because simply being seen was not enough anymore. Plenty of times members have pointed out hate speech being posted on articles about our events or signs promoting meetings that have been forcibly removed. We felt bullied and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to be seen and heard, and we were. Some onlookers appeared very supportive and some did not. The important thing is that we got their attention, and now a few more people know that we have spirit.
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