The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Pride posters kept in the closet

By Carlos Mayorga

After several hours of photo shoots and layout design, Bonnie Owens marveled over what she had created.

Owens, an intern at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, received the assignment of creating posters to advertise events during the weeklong Pride celebration, and used students from the Queer Student Union as models. Five photos of students in sexually suggestive poses were selected as the backdrop for the posters.

She presented the posters to Cathy Martinez, the director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, for approval. Martinez rejected all but one of them.

Martinez later approached Kari Ellingson, associate vice president for student affairs, with the posters, and they decided to reject all five.

“When Cathy and I talked about this, we thought it would be important to break stereotypes that being queer is just about sex,” Ellingson said. “The pictures would take away from all the other events going on that week.”

After the administration’s decision, Kevin Ingraham, co-president of QSU and a sophomore in gender studies, started discussions with QSU members to determine how to respond to the decision.

“These images are portraits and expression of the gender identities we express on a daily basis,” Ingraham said. “I felt that when the images were denied, I was essentially being told that I as an individual was deemed inappropriate and obscene.”

At a meeting Monday most of the 35 QSU members in attendance said they felt like they had been silenced by administrators. QSU officers said they will protest what they feel is censorship and might display the posters at the upcoming queer art show.

“I know that the students may say it’s censorship, but the posters were depicting the community in a sexual way,” Martinez said. “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.”

Ellingson said the posters could hamper the purpose of Pride Week.

“No, it’s not about censorship,” she said. “We want to be able to create allies and have posters people would want to put on their doors.”

But members of QSU said the U has allowed more explicit displays in the past.

Hannah Epperson, co-president of QSU and a sophomore in modern dance, said the posters were likely yanked because they promoted gay sexuality.

Epperson said that last spring Axe deodorant set up a booth in the Free Speech Area and brought two women in “overtly sexual” dresses to pass out samples. The posters come nowhere near that, she said.

Although many expressed their support for the posters at Monday’s meeting, a few students agreed that the posters were inappropriate.

Luke Woodbury, a first-year graduate student in architecture and a member of the club, said he agrees that not allowing the posters is censorship, but he is also against using the posters to advertise Pride Week.

“The U is a public space, and you can’t post anything you want in public spaces,” Woodbury said. “Sexually provocative material is something that should be restricted.”

Ingraham acknowledged that a few might not like the posters’ content, but 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.”

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Melanie Bushnell and Jess Fluetsch kiss on camera for David Alder, who decided to make a film for a class project after Queer Student Union Pride Week posters were deemed obscene and rejected by the administration. Members of the administration suggested that showing a couple kissing would be more appropriate for the posters than the partial nudity shown in the rejected posters.

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