November 26, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 49  

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PDA? Gazette says nay

The recent decision of Queer Western Organization to indefinitely postpone a highly visible event in which queer couples would publicly display affection for each other should be welcomed, not because of those involved in the event, but rather because of the method within which they chose to present their concerns.

In a rather unusual display of internal strife in Western's gay community, several members were rightly outraged over a planned event which had the potential to showcase activities inappropriate for public display, such as making out or groping. Though this is an admittedly extreme interpretation, it is nonetheless one that would severely damage QWO's reputation were it to actually occur.

Dissenting members said they were concerned such an event would perpetuate certain stereotypes and that, instead of promoting tolerance and understanding, it would only serve to further isolate and stigmatize the gay community.

There is nothing wrong with public displays of affection on campus, so long as they are within moderation. A kiss when parting ways, a hug or holding hands are fine. It is when you see two people making out on campus - regardless of sexual orientation - that there is a problem.

Nobody wants to see a couple in the middle of a make out session - be they straight or gay. A heterosexual couple would be looked upon with just as much disgust if they were to do so.

Sensationalizing the issue is a poor way to advertise a group's concerns. There are more effective ways to get the point across that queer couples should feel comfortable showing affection to each other, whether it is through intelligent debate in the atrium of the University Community Centre or in an academic setting.

Nor do we feel that there is anything wrong with a controversial event, but the controversy must be tempered, at least to exclude public indecency. If students were to observe a full-blown make out session in progress, it is likely they would be disgusted, if not offended. Given that a minority group is spearheading the event, it might not serve to promote a positive response from the larger Western community toward the queer community.

In its efforts to promote acceptance of Western's gay community, QWO may have tried to step just a little too far. Society does not seem ready to be exposed to intimate public expression - gay or straight - and there is little indication if it ever will be.

Widespread or isolated, all concerns are legitimate. QWO should be applauded for holding a public forum to debate the issue and allow democracy to guide its next steps. Anyone with an opinion on this issue and genuine regard for the gay community should attend this event to express their thoughts. Count that towards full acceptance.



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