Last year, the university’s LGBT Center won an award from the Atticus Circle, the equal rights organization and creator of the ‘Gay? Fine by me’ national campaign. This year, the LGBT center decided to go a different route with the movement. Mark Rasdorf, graduate assistant of the university’s LGBT Center, said the idea had come to him a while ago, after he saw multiple people with the ‘Gay? Fine by me’ T-shirts.
He said he hoped to get some of the more recognizable campus figures involved in the campaign.
A month ago, Rasdorf ran into Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Gonzalez, and asked her if she might be willing to make an appearance in this project.A short while later, he got his answer.“Then she came back and said, ‘I’m in, and so is the Chancellor,’” Rasdorf said. “I hadn’t even asked her about him.”Soon after, Chancellor Peacock was smiling in front of a camera while sporting a bright, neon yellow t-shirt. “To have someone like our Chancellor, who obviously has a lot of pull on campus and is a public figure, it’s great,” said Drew Bennett, ‘Gay? Fine by me’ photographer and senior global studies and technical photography major. “It shows other people that someone who’s important, who has to worry about his reputation, is still for this type of equality,” Bennett said. One of the campaign’s coordinators and senior management major Jeremy Billow said the Chancellor’s involvement “is huge.”“It shows that he really does keep up with what’s going on around campus and wants to get involved,” he said. “I also believe it’ll be a great way for App to encourage prospective students who are a part of the LGBT community that there’s always support for them here.”Billow, an ally, was involved with ‘Gay? Fine by me’ last year and currently volunteers as a desk shift worker at the LGBT Center. But recently, there has been a succession of anti-LGBT related vandalism across campus, ranging from ripping down posters to inflammatory wall graffiti. “The message of the campaign is for everyone to stand up for equal rights,” Rasdorf said. “For the most part, this is not for the LGBT community. It’s for the straight community, the quote unquote “norm,” who maybe support LGBT rights, but have yet to stand up for them.” He said “make no mistake, though, whether straight, bisexual, gay or whatever you may identify as, everyone can stand up and be an ally”. Last year, the LGBT Center set up a stand in the Plemmons Student Union for the students to receive the T-shirts. To get a T-shirt, you had to sign a pledge stating that you promised to be an ally to the LGBT community. They ran out of shirts within the first half hour – they had less than 100 – but the booth stayed open for well over two hours, with many coming just to sign the pledge. Later, multiple professors even stopped by and offered donations to the center. This year, the Center has around 300 T-shirts, and they will sell on Sept. 25, starting at 11 a.m. in the Student Union in the foyer near Cascades. Shirts are for sale for $5 and to those who sign the pledge.“I hope that this event creates more awareness for LGBT equality,” Bennett said. “And I hope that those who aren’t open to it reconsider, after they see this type of acceptance on this scale.”The ‘Gay? Fine by me’ campaign will be advertised around campus for the rest of the fall semester.Story by: R. SCOTT MORRIS, Intern A&E ReporterPhoto by: MICHAEL BRAGG, A&E Editor