Multiple emails from UCA president’s office regarding the removal of a quote from Torreyson Library’s external sign were sent to students mid-June. The sign showed a Lady Gaga quote that read, “Being gay is like glitter. It never goes away.”
Like other UCA students, I pass Torreyson’s sign multiple times a week during my commute through campus. The quotes on the sign are always a highlight of my week, especially when they're either a reflection of a current event, or a reference to a movie, song, or tv show. Because of this, I did not see a problem with the Lady Gaga quote.
The sign was posted during LGBTQ Pride Month, a month that has been recognized for years but not as openly celebrated as in past few years. Brands and companies like Doritos, H&M, Converse, Postmates, and a plethora of other brands openly supported the month by offering exclusive merchandise and deals in support of inclusion and equality. Torreyson also posted a photo of the sign to their Facebook page with a link to relevant LGBTQ resources including a podcast.
In the email sent by president Davis’ office, there were concerns about groups of younger children, who visit campus during the summer, seeing the Gaga quote on Torreyson’s sign. Is it 1919 or 2019? The children of today are exposed to the ongoing conversations about gender fluidity and sexuality more than any of us can imagine. They’re in schools with gender-neutral bathrooms and playing on playgrounds with transgender peers. The fear surrounding the children’s exposure to the quote is not only rooted in homophobia, but it’s also just plain ignorant.
I get on social media every day and see outrage from people claiming that “everything does not have to be gay” – like LeFou in Beauty and the Beast, or Nickelodeon’s animated show, “The Loud House” which features a character with two fathers. The argument by those who are outraged by this “exposure” is that children who are seeing inclusivity will begin to question their own sexuality.
Those around campus who were outraged by the sign remind me of people who throw ‘tiaras or tow trucks’ themed gender reveal parties for their unborn children. People are so easy to shy away from homosexuality and inclusivity, but see no wrong in pushing gender roles on children. Examples of this include things like buying girls pretend kitchen sets or baby doll strollers, and buying boys pretend power tools or placing footballs in every inch of his nursery.
Students and alumni were also rightfully outraged by the portion of president Davis’ email that stated the sign overstepped the line between individual freedom of speech and institutional voice. It is true that the sign is an “official arm of UCA,” but for a university that prides itself on diversity, UCA should have supported inclusivity by keeping the quote posted. Like glitter, this mistake might not ever go away.