Jimmie Manning said he found little to celebrate after the April 5 statewide vote approving a constitutional ban on gay marriage in the state -- even though a wide majority of Douglas County residents voted against the ban.
Though Douglas was the lone Kansas county to vote against the amendment -- 68 percent of local voters rejected it -- Manning thought there was more support for gays and lesbians in Lawrence.
"We're not as liberal as we thought we were," said Manning, who is bisexual and is president of Queers and Allies at Kansas University. "That's pretty pitiful, for the bastion of liberalism we pretend to be."
Queers and Allies members are entering their annual Pride Week on campus during a time when issues surrounding gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people have been at one of the highest levels in state history. Events start Monday.
But that doesn't mean the purpose of the week is any different than it has been in the past.
"The pressure I feel is not so much political protest as it is creating a welcoming and safe community for LGBT individuals," said Maureen Warren, a senior from Garden City and Pride Week chairwoman. "We worked very hard before the vote. Now we want to celebrate our community and culture and make this less about the political agenda."
Events scheduled through the week include a "kiss-in," where gay and lesbian couples are encouraged to kiss on Wescoe Beach; presentations on being gay in the workplace and ageism among the gay community; two concerts; and the annual Brown Bag Drag show and Pride March.
The list of events has expanded, in part, because businesses and organizations have volunteered their resources for the week. Warren, a senior from Garden City, said she thought the support was related to the April 5 vote.
"We had talked about scaling back some," Warren said. "But we were presented with so many offers we couldn't refuse."
Warren, who is a lesbian, said she continued to feel welcome in Lawrence despite the 70 percent of the state who voted to constitutionally bar gay marriage.
"Lawrence is the only county in Kansas where homophobes get to be in the closet," she said. "I think it's funny the tables are turned."
Manning, a doctoral student from Liberal, said the recent campaign showed that gays and lesbians of all ages and backgrounds needed to unite for advocacy.
"It's funny, but good things come when we have a common enemy to go against," he said. "These repressive factions do more to unite us."
|Monday: "Kiss-In," with gay and lesbian couples kissing, noon, Wescoe Beach.Tuesday: "Queer Perspectives on Age and Ageism," lecture by author Tim Bergling, 7:30 p.m., Jayhawk Room of the Kansas Union.Wednesday: Third annual Queer Awards, 10 p.m., Liquid, 806 W. 24th.Thursday: Concert by Kristie Stremel, 7 p.m., Hawk's Nest in the Kansas Union; NEON 80s Dance Night, 8 p.m., The Granada, 1020 Mass.Friday: Brown Bag Drag Show, noon, Kansas Union Plaza; "Politics of Sexual Representation," lecture by author Susie Bright, 7:30 p.m., Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union; Networq Dance, 9 p.m., Maceli's, 1031 N.H.Saturday: Pride March, 11 a.m., meeting in South Park and marching down Massachusetts Street; Concert by Eric Himan, 1 p.m., Hawk's Nest in the Kansas Union; Hedwig and the Angry Inch, 11:30 p.m., The Granada.Sunday: "Getting a Job as a Queer or Ally: Incorporating Your Identity into Your Profession," 1 p.m., 105 Bailey Hall, KU.|