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Thursday, July 30, 2015

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National Gay Blue Jeans Day drew attention of faculty, students in '77

By Isabella Shaya          Posted: 01/10/13 6:45pm         

Students today support homosexuality on campus in many ways including celebrating National Coming Out Day and the LBGT Resource Center, but on Friday, Oct. 14, 1977, Spartans showed their gay pride by wearing blue jeans.

On National Gay Blue Jeans Day, homosexual students were encouraged to wear blue jeans to show how many gay students were on campus.

Campuses across the nation participated in the day as part of the National Gay Task Force’s attempt to expand understanding of the issues gay students are confronted with on a daily basis, according to the State News article.

Non-gay students who might have been unaware of the celebration and wore blue jeans would in essence be face to face with the discrimination gay students experience.

When I first read about the event, I thought it seemed somewhat pointless because jeans are a common item of clothing, even in the 70s.

But, after understanding the group’s efforts to bring light to the discrimination homosexuals face, I thought the idea could have some meaning.

On National Gay Blue Jeans Day, The State News ran an editorial encouraging all students to wear jeans to support gay rights.

“Perhaps some straights will receive harassment — some of it friendly, some not so friendly — from the prejudicial majority for wearing jeans,” the article said.

In the Monday issue after National Gay Blue Jeans Day, a story ran on students’ reactions to the day and whether they wore jeans or not.

All of the students interviewed in the article said they thought National Gay Blue Jeans Day was a “stupid” idea, or that they wore jeans because it was within their normal wardrobe.

One student said he had jeans on “because he (had) worn them for the last five days.”

According to the followup article on National Gay Blue Jeans Day, the group’s efforts were a complete failure.

The Monday issue also included a column claiming many students consciously did not wear jeans, and, “a number of people wore what looked like dress slacks probably pulled out of their college wardrobe for the first time.”

Talk of National Gay Blue Jeans Day spilled into the Tuesday State News issue, with six letters to the editor and two opinion pieces in the paper.

One simple effort to raise awareness of homosexuality turned into an uproar from readers and State News staff alike.

I think the editorial writer in Monday’s paper sums up the day best — National Gay Blue Jeans Day made people think a little about homosexuality.

Stories, editorials and letters to the editor do not paint a uniform picture of what happened that day and exactly how many were or were not wearing blue jeans.

I guess only students who were on campus that day in 1977 know what went down on National Gay Blue Jeans Day.

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