An administrative decision not to display five posters created for the campus’ Pride Week has lead some gay and lesbian students to say they are being censored.
Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center intern Bonnie Owens created the posters to advertise the university’s week-long Pride festival. As a back drop, each used a photograph of a Queer Student Union member in a sexually suggestive pose. When Owens gave her work to Cathy Martinez, LGBT Resource Center director, Martinez rejected four of them. The fifth was rejected after Martinez met with Kari Ellingson, associate vice president for student affairs. Both women thought the posters might give people the wrong idea about the Pride celebration.
“When Cathy and I talked about this, we thought it would be important to break stereotypes that being queer is just about sex,” Ellingson told the Daily Utah Chronicle, the University of Utah’s student newspaper. “The pictures would take away from all the other events going on that week.”
"The posters were depicting the community in a sexual way,” Martinez agreed. “My concern was that it would distract what we were trying to do with Pride and that it would stereotype gay people in a negative way.”
Many QSU students disagree. Kevin Ingraham, co-president of QSU called the decision an act of censorship.
"These images are portraits and expression of the gender identities we express on a daily basis,” he said. “I felt that when the images were denied, I was essentially being told that I as an individual was deemed inappropriate and obscene.”
He and QSU leadership has said they will protest the decision.
"[An] overwhelming majority of students feel it’s an important issue,” he said. “We’re being silenced and we’re being censored, and were not okay with that.”
The Daily Utah Chronicle editorialized that sexual imagery is not unique to Pride week.
"In a sense, the LGBT Resource Center is viewed as an entity set up to support the QSU and queer students as a whole. By not supporting QSU’s input on Pride Week, the LGBT Resource Center is taking on an authoritative role that could cause resentment between the two entities.
“True, the posters might be sexy, but like it or not, sex has become a mainstream asset to society. They say sex sells, and the QSU isn’t the only entity on campus that capitalizes on that wisdom.
"Almost each month, students flock to the dance floor of Crimson Nights in order to bump and grind each other to the latest Kanye West song. Recently, various members of campus were involved in a date auction to raise money for Rock the U. Basim Motiwala, the vice president of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, was purchased for about $55. At nearly every sporting event, crowds are privy to the color of ‘spankies’ each cheerleader wears under her short skirt. Let’s not even start on the motivation behind the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity’s annual ‘schoolgirl’ party,” the editorial stated.
The editorial ended: “Ellingson and Martinez’s objection to the sexuality of the rejected posters is questionable in the face of all the things that could be deemed too sexual at the U. They indicated that, in place of the posters, pictures of couples holding hands, hugging and kissing would be a preferable image. Take a look at the posters and decide which would be more sexual — kissing or glimpses of skin?” Q