To promote equality for the LGBTQIA community, a group of students participated in the 11th annual Same Gender Hand Holding March from Dexter Lawn to the University Union (UU) Feb. 15 during UU hour.
As a group project for their class, Kelly Hedgecock and Kiefer Reischl, both recreation, parks and tourism administration sophomores, helped organize this year’s march.
Before it started, the two set up a photo tent in the UU Plaza for marchers returning from the event, while other group members set up a meeting station on Dexter Lawn.
Hedgecock said the event, which also included a semi-formal dinner, is meant to promote equality on campus and raise awareness.
Reischl said the day offered significance to the event as well.
“I think a big thing is it’s the day after Valentine’s Day, which is more a heterosexual holiday,” Reischl said. “It’s just good for people to know not all couples are different genders.”
The marchers started to form at 11 a.m. just as students started to file out of classes. Once the group gathered, Alice Terz, a journalism sophomore, led the group through the pathway between Engineering West and the construction to the UU. The group even marched through The Avenue with various cheers, including “What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? Yesterday!”
Terz said she was originally scheduled to photograph the event, but when the megaphone got into her hands she felt empowered, yet nervous.
“I kind of just put that aside and marched,” Terz said. “If you are doing something impactful, you put aside your emotions.”
With signs reading, “Love knows no gender” and “If there’s one thing I love more than one vagina, it’s two vaginas that love each other,” the marchers received stares and aggravated looks from hurried students.
Allison Marin, a non-student participating in the march with Jennifer Ton, an architectural engineering senior, said she is used to being stared at while holding her girlfriend’s hand.
“That’s kind of how everyday is,” Marin said. “There’s just more people and yelling (today), but people still stare at you.”
Ton said the staring is something same-sex couples must deal with.
“And for the most part, you can’t do anything but ignore it, you know, and just not let it get to you,” Ton said. “But it’s really nice having some people going out and cheering and clapping for us.”
Yet, Ton, who is marching for her senior year, said she undersands march participants were nervous.
“I can see how for new people it could be really nerve-racking, especially going through The Avenue where there’s so many people,” Ton said.
Eric Davis, a liberal arts and engineering studies senior spoke at the end of the march, and said he wanted the right to hold his boyfriend’s hand without ridicule, but was apprehensive about the march at first.
“I was a little nervous because I’d never done it before, but there was actually a lot of people applauding or showing support as we were walking by, which was kind of cool,” Davis said. “Cal Poly doesn’t tend to have many events like this, and I think it’s a really good way to peacefully spread awareness and spread the message in a really good way.”
Cami Thacher and Jaide Whitman, both theatre arts juniors, were bystanders to the march while promoting Falsettos, the Cal Poly theatre and dance department’s upcoming musical.
Whitman said she was surprised by the march, but thought it was great.
“It was really empowering, is the word I would use,” Whitman said.
Thacher said she knew the event was happening and also thought it was great.
“I thought it was wonderful,” Thacher said. “It was very positive. There were less people than I was expecting though.”
Davis said he hoped there would be more people next year, hopefully three or four times as many.
“I just wish more people would show up next year,” Davis said. “It was kind of a smaller group this year, which I think was because of the rain.”
Yet, Reischl said she was happy with the turnout and said the march went really well.
Terz said she hoped with this march, the stigma that same sex couples are “gross” to express affection for each other will lessen and bring more awareness to same sex couples.
“Love is love,” Terz said.