Coming Out’ Doors Put 2012 Hate Speech Incident in Focus

Last year’s incident involving members of the Colgate community writing hateful slurs and threats on the coming out doors that were put up around campus for Coming Out Week has since prompted varied responses across campus. Following the incident, the Princeton Review named Colgate the 15th least friendly campus to the LGBTQ community. The coming out doors went back up this year on October 1, encouraging students to write positive messages on the doors and helping to create a safe environment for students to feel like they can come out without feeling threatened.

“The incidents with the coming out doors were met with a huge response,” Vice President of Colgate Advocates Providence Ryan said. “People from literally every part of campus came together after the coming out doors incident to figure out what Colgate needed to do as a community to address the hate speech that occurred.”

As a result of the incidents, Advocates held two open forum events to discuss the incidents and ways to prevent future ones. There was also a Broad Street poster campaign called “G8 vs. H8.”

As a continuation of those responses, this year Advocates organized “Blue for Q,” a campus-wide awareness event inspired by the blue sharpies that were used to deface the coming out doors last fall. To involve the whole school, Advocates asked every club and organization on campus to take a picture of its members together wearing blue. They decorated the quad with rainbow flags and wrote on the pathways with chalk.

“One of the main goals of Advocates is to create awareness and discussions on campus about social and political issues that members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) community are facing,” Ryan said of the intention of Advocates’ efforts around campus.

Those efforts will continue for Ally Week, which will be taking place the first week of November. Students who consider themselves Allies of the LGBTQ community, as well as Advocates, will be hanging posters around campus and be holding a Brown Bag discussion on Wednesday November 13.

“I think the first step is just educating yourself,” Ryan said. “Attend an event that is being sponsored by LGBTQ initiatives, Lambda or Advocates, come to an advocates meeting and inform yourself on what exactly it means to you to be an ally.”

Ryan encourages students to get involved in any way possible, including attending Advocates meetings, which are Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. in the Women’s Studies lounge. Students of all affiliations can also take part in events through the LGBTQ initiative and the Shaw Wellness Center, which hold weekly events on campus to raise awareness. Students who affiliate themselves with the LGBTQ community are encouraged to join Lambda, the confidential LGBTQ social group that holds events like family dinner.

“Myself and the other core members of Advocates really want to see more students involved in Advocates and other LGBTQ activism clubs/initiatives on campus,” Ryan said. “Everyone on campus can contribute to the larger conversation and work towards a more inclusive campus, but the only way to do that is by having a lot of students interested in and involved in what we’re doing around campus.”

Contact Rachelle Ehrman at [email protected]