Members of the Harvard Queer Students and Allies who gathered yesterday in front of the science center for the “Speak Out” rally for LGBT youth did not do so alone. Leaders and representatives of many campus groups joined them to stand up in solidarity against acts of discrimination and fight for a more accepting future.
“Opening up channels of communication between groups shows that the onus is on the entire community to be supportive and vocal about welcoming students and enabling them to be open and honest,” said QSA Co-Chair Marco Chan ’11. “Especially for people of color or from different faiths, they carry so many complexities that it becomes even more crucial to acknowledge that the LGBT members of whatever community we’re speaking about deserve to be recognized.”
Members of many communities on campus have committed to recognizing such intersections of identity by signing a petition affirming their support for an Allied Harvard.
Cultural, political, religious, and social groups on campus—including the Society of Arab Students, the Harvard-Radcliffe Christian Fellowship, and the Harvard University African Students Association, among 21 others thus far—have signed the petition stating their support.
The petition states three linked goals: to recognize the harm of homophobia and transphobia and the violence perpetrated through discrimination; to challenge the assumptions leading to bias; and to speak up and out as visible allies of the LGBT community at Harvard and beyond.
Members of several of these groups—including the Harvard Republican Club, Harvard Democrats, Fuerza Latina, Black Men’s Forum, the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, and the Harvard College Progressive Jewish Alliance—stood up to speak at yesterday’s rally.
“This is not a political issue—this is a human issue,” said President of the Republican Club Mark A. Isaacson ’11. “We must end this hatred before one more youth kills himself because the people around him were too closed-minded to open their arms to him.”
James F.L. Croft, chair of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s LGBT student group QueerEd, emphasized the importance of reaching out to people who face discrimination.
“We’ve all felt, even if just for a moment, that there is no one standing with us, no one on our side,” Croft said, issuing a call to action to everyone assembled.
“It isn’t enough to allow these things to happen and then to mourn them after—we need to catch these kids before they jump,” Croft added.
After the speeches ended, the QSA led participants and attendants from the Science Center into the yard to perform the symbolic act of “queering the John Harvard statue.” Students wrapped the bronze founder in rainbow flags as others gathered around his feet, uniting their voices with the cheer, “What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want ‘em? Now!”
QSA Co-Chair Emma Q. Wang ’12 said she was thrilled with the turnout and with the pledges of solidarity from so many student groups.
“We are a community standing in solidarity,” she said. “People are getting involved and speaking out to make this an inclusive space and a queer-friendly space for all.”
—Staff writer Alice E.M. Underwood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.