1997: Coming Out Day chalkings

News: GLBA's Coming Out marred by anti-gay chalkings

By Helen Muth, published October 17, 1997

For those who don't look at their feet while walking to and from class, last week was National Coming Out Week. The Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance (GLBA) had a series of events starting on Wednesday, October 8 and culminating with National Coming Out Day on Saturday, October 11.

National Coming Out Day is for "visibility—I think a lot of people don't actually realize that there are gay people on campus," said Valerie Molyneaux, a junior English and philosophy double major and president of GLBA.

The week of events included discussions on "being out" and how to be an ally for homosexuals. The week ended with a dance party in the Rough Rider Room in Carlton Commons.

"I think it was great," said Molyneaux. "I felt very positive about the week."

However, the week was somewhat marred by the defacement of the GLBA chalkings. GLBA members chalked on Friday night from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. all around campus. Messages included "Homophobia is a social disease" and "CWRU—if you won't tolerate racism, please don't tolerate homophobia. Share the vision." Within the next twelve hours, over 60 chalkings had appeared commenting on the GLBA messages.

Messages included "HIV: God's critique of indiscriminate sex.", "Stay in, we'll respect you better." and "To be judged by character, do not reveal your dark desires. Don't tell me, and I'll accept you."

"In past years, chalkings have been along the lines of derogatory comments and this year it seemed like someone wanted to start an intellectual fight," said Molyneaux.

"We are not suggesting that being gay is or should be the only kind of sexual identity. On the contrary, it is a recognition and affirmation of diversity and difference."

Molyneaux has reported the incidents to the Office of Student Affairs, and USG is planning on discussing the chalkings in the Diverse Relations Ad Hoc committee.

"Chalking is fine," said Colleen Young, a freshman computer science major, "but such a debate as was opened up shouldn't be conducted through anonymous, faceless chalkings."

GLBA is a Undergraduate Student Government (USG) sponsored group with 25 to 30 active members. On Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. GLBA will be co-sponsoring a discussion with various religious groups in Guilford Parlor. Featured panelists include David O'Malley, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Peer Education Coordinator, who is affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Anne Butts, of Hallinan, Rabbi Carie Carter from Hillel, and Catherine Fuller, a member of P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) who is working for social change within the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.