Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ramapo Coming Out Day Delivers Hope

This Monday Ramapo celebrated Coming Out Day – a yearly event where members of the queer community and straight allies share their stories about coming out. The event has always been an overwhelmingly bright and cheerful celebration of community and support in my opinion, and this year was no different. The love and hope that was present under the rainbow balloon arch was just as strong as ever; it was inspiring to see that, despite the fact that it was a cold and rainy day, so many people came out to voice their support.

Even though everything was seemingly the same as in past years, it still feels different for me and I think that difference lies in just how much the hope and love and support was needed this year. In light of the six recent suicides, the usual cheerful and celebratory atmosphere of Queer History Month in general has taken on heaviness, at least for me.

It is heartbreaking that the world had to lose six wonderful people because of homophobia and bullying. As heartbreaking as it is though, I think its important to remember that this doesn’t have to keep happening. We can drown out the hurtful messages that people in society send with messages of love and hope and, in doing this, save lives.

On Sunday NYU held a vigil (organized by last year’s QPS Zaneta!!) in Washington Square Park to remember these six boys. Governor David Paterson spoke at the event. Despite the rain over two thousand people attended this moving event. According to one news article about the event:
“For almost an hour, neon red, blue, green, and yellow glow-sticks illuminated the umbrella-covered vigil. After several speeches, thousands sang, “Over The Rainbow,” then chanted, repeatedly, “human rights for all.”

Others, as they exited the park around 10:00 PM took time to write messages of love and hope on the asphalt walkways, knowing they would soon be consumed by the rain.”

On the 20th everyone is encouraged to wear purple in honor of the six men who died as a result of homophobia. Purple represents spirit on the LGBT Pride flag. We are doing other things to memorialize these boys at the WC as well, including making a huge banner to send to the Rutgers LGBT Center and creating buttons to distribute for the 20th.

I think its really important to think about what we all can personally do to honor the memory of all of the people who have died in this way. If we all promise to stop judging other people for who they are – and to treat everyone around us with respect, at the very least, we can change this culture. Six boys have already died in such a short amount of time but we as a society have the power to keep it from becoming seven, or eight, or nine, or more simply by calling out bullying in our daily lives and refusing to engage in it ourselves.

More Information & Resources:

The It Gets Better Project
Sometimes we fight back by merely surviving: A missive for the bullied.
September’s Anti-Gay Bullying Suicides – There Were A Lot More Than 5

No comments:

Post a Comment