LGBTA Student Coalition Co-President Spencer Paret hopes students walking through the HUB-Robeson Center today will be a little uncomfortable.
“When you’re trying to raise awareness about anything a lot of people don’t know about, if you’re not making anyone uncomfortable, then you’re not doing that great of a job,” Paret (sophomore-industrial engineering) said.
Paret and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Ally Student Coalition is co-sponsoring the LGBTA KissOut this Valentine’s Day for the ninth year, to show students that the romantic holiday is for more than just heterosexual couples.
At 12:45 p.m., members of the LGBTA community will gather on the ground floor of the HUB to kiss each other in front of hundreds of students that walk through the building.
“With the event, we are trying to deconstruct heteronormative ideas about Valentine’s Day,” Paret said. “We are trying to show a presence on Valentine’s Day other than just a boy and a girl kissing.”
Also co-sponsoring the event is the Rainbow Roundtable , a group of student leaders dedicated to being involved with and helping the LGBTA community.
Rainbow Roundtable President Staci Henry said the KissOut has been publicized through its Facebook page and also has been spread through word of mouth. She expects about 15 to 20 couples to participate in the KissOut and, while many couples will probably be members of the two organizations sponsoring the event, it has never limited couples outside of them.
“The event started out because many of us know that Valentine’s Day is one of the most cliche heteronormative holidays, so this just shows that all kinds of relationships are present on Valentine’s Day,” Henry (junior- biology) said.
The first KissOut was organized in 2005 and was originally held on the steps of Old Main. In recent years, the event has taken place in the HUB.
Jenny Shipley has been involved with the LGBTA KissOut for a few years. Shipley, the former president of the Rainbow Roundtable, said the HUB location works because it reinforces the KissOut’s purpose.
“It’s about the visibility of non-hetero relationships and how Valentine’s Day is normally very hetero-centric and centered around nuclear male and female relationships,” Shipley (senior-mechanical engineering) said.
Shipley said the HUB always has high foot traffic, and therefore garners plenty of reactions from students passing by. She said some students will see how cute the public displays of affection are, while others may stop and see the scene as thought-provoking.
Paret anticipates mixed reactions from students and said some people will probably ask themselves why the couples are kissing and also think it’s inappropriate.
Shipley has participated in the KissOut as part of a couple in the past and said most participants know they are going to receive attention.
“Most people who are doing it are comfortable with being out and are just glad to be given the opportunity to be visible,” Shipley said.