Decked out with rainbow stickers, colorful posters and bullhorns, members of the UNC community marched through campus Wednesday in celebration of National Coming Out Day.
The campus group Queer Network for Change sponsored the coming out march.
Marchers shouted such sayings as "hey hey, ho ho, homophobia's got to go" and "two, four, six, eight, being queer is really great" as they walked across campus and Franklin Street in recognition of the annual national event.
The march departed from the Pit, where a Pit Preacher was busy denouncing homosexual lifestyles.
About 20 people participated, some carrying bright and provocative posters reading such things as, "Straight but not narrow," "I can't even write straight" and "Taste my rainbow." Two marchers also carried a large, rainbow-colored flag.
Erin Karcher, a junior from Cary, said the focus of the event was to encourage visibility of gays and lesbians.
"Today is about celebrating people already out and encouraging those who haven't come out yet," Karcher said.
Crowds of people in the Pit watched the procession with curiosity, and some student onlookers said they were supportive of the event. "It takes courage to do what they are doing," said Beth Nassef, a sophomore from Danville, Pa.
Other students said they saw the event as an expression of the many facets of University life. "I think it's one of the great things about Carolina because there are many forms of diversity, and it is a special part of any liberal arts university," said senior Stuart Albright.
But other students said they were puzzled by the shouting and high emotions of the march.
"I believe in the diversity of peoples, but the nature of the march seemed strange to me," said Dave Reule, a senior political science major. "It struck me as almost violent and I thought `how odd.'"
A few members of the University faculty also were involved in the march to show solidarity for the students.
"I think coming out is extremely important," English Professor Erin Carlston said. "People need to know that gay people are their friends and teachers and siblings. I think it is much harder to hate people as perverts or monsters when you know them."
Carlston did not march, but she visited QNC's table in the Pit to express support for the event. Carlston said she wished she had classes to teach Wednesday so she could come out to her students.
"It is really important for faculty to come out because we are much less at risk than students (for ridicule)," Carlston said. "It's really important that (students) have mentors and teachers that they can come to and aren't afraid to discuss these issues, who we are and what we believe."
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