Two rows of the Oval’s elms spent GLBTQ history month displaying the colors of the rainbow, and the display sparked discussion in the CSU community.
A photograph of the display posted to the official CSU Facebook wall Oct. 11 received 75 comments, 956 “likes” and 149 shared links.
Of those comments, at least nine could be considered negative and created a discussion that prompted a campus-wide email from President Tony Frank.
“The display generated considerable discussion and debate on Facebook and elsewhere — the type of dialogue that comes with being part of a college community,” Frank wrote on Oct. 23. “All in all, it was an important reminder that our community is made up of thousands of people with different viewpoints, experiences, and identities.”
None of the comments on the page were deleted and the entirety of the conversation is displayed, according to Mike Hooker, Executive Director of Public Relations for CSU.
According to Hooker, Tony Frank’s note about the event was a chance to make everyone welcome and to acknowledge that there are issues to discuss.
“It’s a chance to reaffirm the university’s commitment to diversity and to acknowledge the display. We have a commitment for discussion and dialogue and hearing the discussion that happens around campus,” Hooker said.
Foula Dimopoulos, director of the LGBT resources office, was partially responsible for maintaining the display throughout the week. The display “grew out of a brainstorm about what GLBTQ History month is and how to reflect the pride of a diverse community in which others would be invited to share,” Dimopoulos wrote in an email to the Collegian.
Dimopoulos sees the ribbons as a way to face the discriminatory remarks and beliefs that are voiced against the LGBTQ community.
“These displays are so important. It’s targeted for everyday micro-aggressions,” Dimopoulos said.
This year was the first presentation of this scale to raise awareness about LGBTQ history month, and the scale is what could make onlookers question themselves, she said.
“It means a lot when you see those things at that magnitude in the Oval with all of the greatness the Oval demands. It doesn’t necessarily eradicate [the derogatory comments] for our students, but it provides a counterbalance which could make or break their day,” Dimopoulos said.
Throughout the stream of comments the CSU Facebook page linked to their comment guidelines that said, “It’s okay to voice an opinion, complaint, or disagreement with another, but we ask that you do so in a constructive manner. Obscenities, personal attacks, threatening, harassing, or abusive content, and defamatory comments about any person, group, organization or belief will be deleted.”
One of the negative comments left on the post reads, “how about celebrating hetersoexuals next month? or is that politically incorrect?”
Brian Stewart, President of the Student Organization for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered, sees the display as a way to promote visibility for the organization.
“As far as negative feedback, those people bask in so much privilege they don’t realize they were being degrading,” Stewart said. “Every minute of every day is heterosexual appreciation day through the media . . . to what we are socialized to see.”
The ribbons may be gone from the Oval now, but the results of this display of pride, according to Hooker, could encourage steps to more cooperation.
“We hope events like this make everyone realize there is a diversity of people on the campus
and we want everyone to feel included and welcome here,” Hooker said. “There’s always ways to continue making people feel more welcome and included.”
Diversity beat reporter and entertainment reporter Bailey Constas (@BaileyLiza) can be reached at email@example.com.