LGBT Hosts “Out and Proud” Week

The tradition began over 30 years ago, LGBT Resource Center Director Shaun Travers said.

“It started out in the eighties as ‘Wear Jeans if You’re Gay Day’,” Travers said.

In its three-decade history, Out and Proud Week has grown from an inside joke to a festival that takes a year to plan.

“It’s gotten so big that we start planning a year out,” Vanidy M. Bailey, Assistant Director for Education at the LGBT Resource Center, said. “The first thing we have to do is in Fall Quarter. That’s when we reserve Library Walk — it gets really booked up.”

This year’s event was arranged with the help of about 20 student volunteers. They represent many of the 18 individual LGBT and gender-based organizations on campus.

Bailey said that available funding limited the scope of the week’s events.

“If we had our way, we would make it a really large event, like last year, when we had the transgender film fest,” he said. “For instance, if we could bring in the authors you read in critical gender studies classes — that would incredible. But the funds just aren’t there.”

Though organizing Out and Proud Week is complicated, its message is simple.

“[The event] always been about visibility,” Travers said. “It’s always been about staying in the public consciousness.”

Out and Proud Week, in its current form, always kicks off with “Brown Bag Lunch Event.”

The Brown Bag Lunch is a reenactment of the UCSD LGBT community’s response to hate speech during Out and Proud Week 2004.

In response to that year’s Out and Proud Week, a preacher stood directly in front of the LGBTQIA tent and balloon arch and delivered a half-hour sermon condemning homosexuality. Travers, who witnessed the incident, responded by arranging an event via email to demonstrate solidarity for LGBT individuals.

Nearly everyone he emailed showed up.

“We filled the entire space in front of the bookstore on Library Walk,” he said. “All we did was eat our brown bag lunches. But it was a powerful moment of community for all of us.”

This was the original Brown Bag Lunch.

On April 24, LGBTQIA hosted a forum on coming out, and the issues accompanying the process. Wednesday featured a panel called “Proud and Out?,” an analysis of the meaning of pride for the gay community.

“The point of the forum is to take a serious look at these issues,” Travers said. “Who knows what the ‘right’ thing to do is? At the same time, we’re probably not going to have an ‘In and Humble’ week next year.”

On Thursday there is a fundraiser for HIV/AIDS victims. Participating off-campus San Diego restaurants will donate 25 percent to 100 percent of their profits for the day to the Dine Out for Life charity. Thursday night also marks Take Back The Night, a forum, performance and candlelight vigil held for victims of relationship violence.

“Every other week of the year, it’s easy for someone on campus to walk around and not know we exist,” Travers said. “It’s easy for someone to overlook us. But this week is different. Even if you don’t stop at the tent, you will on some level think of the LGBT community.”