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Davis, California

Friday, July 19, 2024

Column: Queer Prom

Queer Prom was amazing. I kissed several girls (Katy Perry style but with more tongue), lost my shoe (like Cinderella but more inebriated) and skinny dipped in my unfortunate neighbor’s pool (a situation unique to me). Most of all, I laughed with friends and cried when I learned they were leaving soon after graduation.

I have made friends and memories in Davis’s LGBT community that I will have for a lifetime.

This year at UC Davis, queer pride is at an all-time high. We have a wonderful new LGBT Resource Center, located in the Student Community Center, and many events planned.

But life isn’t perfect.

When UC Davis was founded in 1905, homosexuality was defined as a psychological disease. At the time, psychiatrists performed electroshock therapy in order to “cure” homosexuality, and the police raided locations of “homosexual activity.”

Queer pride is hard to feel when someone has outlawed it.

In the 1950s, Eisenhower and U.S. Immigration barred and banned the immigration and employment of anyone who was homosexual. Today, regulations from the Clinton Administration’s DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, continue to negatively affect the immigration status of trans* peoples and same-sex couples.

Under Eisenhower, federal employees were forced to undergo a “loyalty pledge,” promising that they were neither gay nor communists. This executive order, protecting the American people from a fictitious threat, was not repealed until 1975.

In order to combat feelings of negativity, San Francisco’s Pride Parade was first held in 1970. This annual celebration has now been attended by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and the infamous Lady Gaga — who arguably holds more political sway.  If you want to show your pride here on campus, our own Pride Week begins mid-April.

It wasn’t until 1999 that California’s same-sex couples were granted legal rights. This came in the form of the Domestic Partnership Act where two people could vow to pay taxes together, share an income and own joint property. California still bans same-sex marriage, although — according to California’s Field Research poll — it has a 25 percent margin of support amongst citizens.

“Sodomy,” in this case defined as oral or anal sex between any two consenting people, was criminalized in every state until 1962. This was changed when individual states were granted the right to choose their own method of punishment for “homosexual behavior.” Some states chose to abolish the unfair laws, but others, like Idaho, placed those engaging in “sodomy” in prison for life.

It wasn’t until 2003 that the Supreme Court declared “sodomy laws” unconstitutional. So rejoice! Your sexual activities will remain private unless you choose to use a vibrator in Alabama, have sex with a live fish in Minnesota or have oral sex in Indiana. Then you may be fined.
Queer pride can change the course of history, but it hasn’t yet guaranteed total equality.

In February 2010 the 9th Circuit Panel of the Supreme Court ruled the ban on gay marriage, Prop 8, unconstitutional.

Twenty days after the Supreme Court decision, when I was a gallivanting young freshman — like many of you readers, fresh and full of life — the old LGBT Center was vandalized. The 2010 hate crime was committed by persons who were both extremely rude and terrible with spray paint. The center did not immediately remove the vandalism and instead fought to bring attention to the fact that, even here in our small town of Davis, hate crimes do happen.

According to the National Youth Association, more than one third of LGBT youths have attempted suicide, and nine out of every 10 LGBT youths have faced harassment at school.

Queer pride is a powerful emotion because it suggests a refusal to bow in the face of hatred and discrimination.

I hope feelings of pride will determine the future rather than emotions of shame, fear or hatred. I’m hoping that the only police who will bust a queer party will be carrying enormous boomboxes — if those still exist in the future — and wearing next to nothing underneath their revealing costumes. The laws will guarantee equality, and spray paint won’t be used out of fear, but rather, will come in rainbow colors that carry messages of pride.

But until that time, continue to feel and express your queer/ally pride! Attend Crafternoons at the LGBT Resource Center from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., slap an equality symbol on your car/bike, understand the acronym LGBTQIA and vote!

KATELYN RINGROSE is interested in attending Queer parties (of the aforementioned breed), so please e-mail directions to knringrose@ucdavis.edu


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