The Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Student Association (BGLSA) celebrated National Coming Out Day yesterday with a campus-wide campaign to express solidarity with the gay community at Harvard.
Group members spent much of the day yesterday in front of Widener Library asking passersby to sign a poster demonstrating support for closeted gays and lesbians who "come out" and reveal their sexual preferences. The poster will be displayed at the BGLSA dance tonight and then put in the group's showcase in Lamont Library.
The group also continued to table in College dining halls, where BGLSA members distributed buttons with pink triangles on them.
National Coming Out Day is held each year on the anniversary of the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which took place on October 11, 1987.
"It's very much of a political holiday in many ways. It's a political tool to maintain a gay presence on campus," BGLSA Co-Chair Sheila C. Allen '93 said.
BGLSA Treasurer Javier E. Mateu '93 said the group targeted the Yard and first-year students for special attention yesterday.
Widener was chosen as the site for the poster "especially because of the number of freshmen who pass by," Mateu said. "We put very good tablers in the Union, more aggressive ones."
"Last year when I was a freshman I didn't know gay people existed at Harvard," Mateu said. "If I hadn't met a gay person on campus who came out to me, I probably wouldn't have known that there were gay people on campus."
Approximately 800 people signed the poster between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. yesterday, Mateu said. "We've given out 1200 pink triangle buttons at tables and dinner and here," he said.
According to Mateu, President Derek C. Bok walked by the table twice but declined to sign the poster both times.
Many students who signed the poster said that they wanted to express support for gays and lesbians at Harvard.
"I was just working in the library and somebody came out to me. That takes so much guts, you have to admire people who can say that about themselves," said Sarah B. Wigglesworth '91.
"I came from a right-wing school so it's not like I'm gay or anything, but I have no problem with gays, so I figured I might as well," said James T. Hickey '94. "I also want annoy my roommates. I have a lot of right-wing roommates."
Not all students approved of National Comming Out Day, however. The Association Against Learning in the Absence of Religion and Morality (AALARM), a right-wing student group highly critical of gays on campus, issued a statement condemning the BGLSA's activities.