In its eighth year, the annual “KissOut,” has expanded into a campus-wide event in an effort to promote equality and defy the notion that only heterosexual couples can share a romantic moment in public, Rainbow Roundtable President Jenny Shipley said.
Across campus today, participants will lock lips in three locations as part of the KissOut, sponsored by the Penn State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally Student Alliance.
The first of the three KissOuts will take place in the HUB-Robeson Center at 12:30 p.m. At 3 p.m., another will take place at the Allen Street Gates, followed by a third KissOut at 6 p.m. in Redifer Commons, Shipley (junior-mechanical engineering) said.
In past years, the annual KissOut, which began in 2005, solely took place in one location. In 2005, couples kissed on the steps of Old Main and in following years, participants kissed in the HUB. After the first KissOut in 2005, some Penn State students voiced their displeasure with the event, sparking a campus-wide debate.
Last year more than 15 couples gathered together to kiss in front of those walking through the HUB. Shipley said she expects that there will be between 20 and 40 people at each of the KissOuts today.
For Shipley, the KissOut will be a way for her and others to make relationships “respected and visible” on Valentine’s Day. Though Shipley said she is more expressive and is not as intimidated by the reactions of those around her, she said it is not uncommon for members of the LGBT community to feel out of place.
Shipley said she expects that there will be stares and confusion when viewers watch the scene, but believes the “shock is part of its value.”
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County, 780 Waupelani Drive Extension, will also sponsor a “Standing on the Side of Love Day Rally,” an event much like the KissOut held in support of the LGBTA community, at 5 p.m. at the Allen Street Gates.
“Standing on the Side of Love Day Rally” is a national campaign that began in response to the 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church where members were targeted because of welcoming LGBT people, UFCC member Jason Bostron said.
The rally is open to the public and will consist of attendees holding signs and singing, while also standing in solidarity for those who are oppressed in the LGBT community, Bostron (graduate-acoustics) said.
“Clearly, LGBT persons are not given the same respect, worth and dignity in our society by our laws, the general media, and individual persons,” Bostron said.
To Bostron, Valentine’s Day isn’t just about the commercial view of love, but it’s about the importance of supporting other relationships, as well.
Also involved with the rally is the Penn State Unitarian Universalist Students campus group, which started up this semester after several years of being inactive.
Vice President of UU Students Sonia Reed said she hopes as many students as possible attend the rally to support LGBTA members because some opinion groups believe they are “second class citizens.”
Reed (junior-psychology) said she attended one of the rallies in Pittsburgh in the past and hopes that the message will be spread for equal rights for all, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Bostron said one of the core reasons he is driven to participate in the campaign is because of one of the seven Unitarian Universalist principles stating a belief in “the inherent worth and dignity of every person.”