February 14, 2010

Ho Plaza ‘Kiss-In’ Raises Visibility for LGBTQ Community

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“I was there and I hugged someone,” said Matt Danzer ’12, the LGBTQ representative for the Student Assembly. “I think it was a great event. It showed that this campus really does have a wide range of different orientations on campus. We really do have a diverse community here and it was great to see a good number of people turn out for that sort of event.”

Trey Ramsey ’12, president of DASH, said the group wanted to bring attention to LGBTQ couples in the Cornell community around Valentine’s Day.

“I feel Cornell is a pretty safe and open place, and perhaps sheltered in some ways. I’m not sure if people are always aware of how difficult things may be outside of the University,” Ramsey said. “Sometimes within the University there will be occasionally open homophobia, but often heterosexism. For example: assuming someone is straight. I feel that’s relatively common.”

Ramsey noted that “especially around Valentine’s Day, when so many of the advertisements are marketed to heterosexual couples, [the kiss-in is] just a small way to remind people of [the presence of LGBTQ couples].”

DASH, which organized the kiss-in, works toward “eliminating oppression on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression,” according to its website. “Most pressingly, we seek to create LGBTQ communities on campus that do not reproduce the same systems of oppression that currently exist in the larger Cornell community and in our respective social and cultural groups,” the website states.

Previous DASH events have included a candlelight vigil to remember transgendered individuals who lost their lives because of gender identity and expression issues, a rally for the Day of Silence and a speaker who came to campus to discuss the American military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Ramsey, DASH’s president, joined the organization last year to start making changes.

“I’ve been interested in heterosexism and LGBT rights for a while, and I wanted to do something constructive,” he said.

“I’m in DASH, the on-campus peer group to fight heterosexism,” Sarah Gurney ’10, who attended the kiss-in, said. “This is a visibility event. Not everybody on campus is heterosexual on Valentine’s Day. There is a mixture of people here.”

The event was a “nice way to raise awareness in people who live in this community,” Rosa Mato ’11 said. “It’s important for the community to show how many people are in support of the gay community.”

After people kissed and hugged, they began to disperse.

The kiss-in dissolved quietly on a crowded Ho Plaza Friday.

Original Author: Emily Coon