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Hundreds rally at NC State against homophobic vandalism

Posted October 20, 2011

— Several hundred students, staff and faculty gathered at North Carolina State University's Brickyard Thursday afternoon to speak out against an act of vandalism targeted toward a campus group focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues and awareness.

Someone spray-painted a homophobic slur and the words "burn" and "die" outside the N.C. State GLBT Center Monday night, prompting the university community to hold The Ally Rally to speak out against what they are calling hate.

"In the days forward, we will overcome this act of hatred and be stronger as a Wolfpack family – a community that welcomes everyone," the GLBT Center's director, Justine Hollingshead, told the crowd.

Chalk drawings with phrases like "equality for all" and "State, not hate" decorated the brick plaza at the heart of the campus, and organizers passed out purple bracelets with the word "ally" printed on them as a way to show unity.

Students also wrote messages on strips of paper, creating what's called the Wolfpack Chain of Hope. "All you need is LOVE," one student, Kasi Wetherington, wrote.

"I just feel like, if people weren't around to support other causes like this in the past, then we would never be open to the things we are now," Wetherington said. "Look how diverse our campus is. If people hadn't rallied to help those people, they wouldn't be here either."

By noon Thursday, about 500 students had also signed an online statement from N.C. State student leaders calling the vandalism unacceptable and for the campus community to "denounce it in every corner of our university."

"The way that we're reacting, the way the campus is reacting, that's who N.C. State is, and this is what the rally is trying to show," Rachel Turner, a member of the university's Student Senate, said.

Investigators still don't know who is responsible for the graffiti. Police said they hope surveillance cameras outside Harrelson Hall, where the GLBT Center's office is located, will help identify the culprit.

Kasi Wetherington NC State rally targets hate

Whoever is responsible could face criminal charges. School officials have said they could also face sanctions by the university for violating the Code of Student Conduct, which forbids anyone from targeting another student or group based upon race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

"We've run the gamut of anger and sadness and students just trying to figure out how we deal with this and feel like we matter," Hollingshead said. "People are outraged that it would happen, regardless of your values and beliefs. We're all human beings, and that's how everyone wants to be treated."

N.C. State officials have called the incident a setback for progress made over the past few years to try to make the university comfortable and safe for everyone.

Earlier this year, the GLBT Center produced a 14-minute video of straight, gay and transgender students, faculty and staff, including N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson, touting an inclusive and welcoming environment for students, staff and faculty.

N.C. State's provost and executive vice chancellor, Warwick Arden, spoke at the rally, condemning the vandalism as a "reprehensible act of hatred and intimidation" and echoing other sentiments that better understanding of one another's differences could potentially result from the situation.

"(It's) an opportunity for an increased level and enhanced level of dialog on the campus about our core values and about who we are as an institution," Arden said. "Frank discussion about what diversity really means, about what inclusion really means."

"It would be easy to retreat, but that is not the Wolfpack way or the answer, and we are simply not going away as a (GLBT) community," Hollingshead said.

"N.C. State is about something more. We are better than those words of hate, and we have got to move to a place where we can have discussion, disagree on occasion, support and respect one another and at the end of the day, know that we are all welcome here," she continued.

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  • seal5050 Oct 21, 7:56 p.m.

    GidderDun--Just a note..there are churches and other places of worship that are " open and affirming" that would welcome you with open arms, just as you are. I wish you happiness and peace and will think of you when I march or rally for and with the LGBT family and friends and when I vote May 8th..from A Proud Pflag Mom namaste

  • seal5050 Oct 21, 7:30 p.m.

    GidderDun, there are so many people out there and all around EVERYWHERE standing up for you and all of the LGBT community.

    "Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart" Anne Frank

    Some here have been frank and honest with different views on how they feel about this topic. Some have made fun and been mean spirited and some put themselves out there to say the things they may be afraid to say outloud for fear of being made fun of or hated and ridiculed. And some find this boring as Bartmeister about folks coming out of the woodwork on certain articles. This is important to me and many others. If anyone needs to find resourceS locally ,there is the local PFLAG Chapter in Raleigh and Durham and you can find information online at to meeting time and dates. Also the LGBT Center in downtown Raleigh, EQUALITY NC..GET OUT AND VOTE AGAINST THE ANTI-LGBT MARRIAGE AMENDMENT MAY 8TH AND VOTE AGAINST DISCRIMINATION BEING WRITTEN INTO THE NC CONSTITUTION!

  • Bartmeister Oct 21, 5:09 p.m.

    Some come out of the wood work on certain articles and never see them on others. Boring and myopic....................

  • Gidder Dun Oct 21, 3:36 p.m.

    Seal5050... I want to "THANK YOU" personally for standing up for those like me and your daughter. My mother found out about me when I was 18, but told me she knew all along since I was a young toddler. She raised me in a Christian home and taught me "LOVE is hard & Hate is easy" take your choice. Needless to say I took the hard route and still find it hard to Love when I am hated for being born this way.

  • seal5050 Oct 21, 1:58 p.m.

    THanks Buford, my daughter is now 29 and head chef of a resturant out west and is very happy living her life. She is featured in a well known mangazine this month which focused a bit of her life journey and her successful career. She does alot of volunteer work and is a mentor to kids who are "lost" like she was a teen in her community. As everyone knows, there are kids going through what she did and some lives end tragically by suicide which is heart breaking. I know some folks don't care at all about any of this but I do as many others like yourself, haggis basher, Scaramouche and others here :). As I said before, people can believe what they want to and have every right to speak what they think. Just not at the cost of harm to a person or to deny them equal rights under the law.

  • buford Oct 21, 1:21 p.m.

    @seal5050...I am so sorry for what your daughter had to go through...it's heartbreaking...thank goodness she was not successful in her attempt...and I'm happy she got the support she needed ;-)

  • haggis basher Oct 21, 12:35 p.m.

    "and those people have just as many rights as you and your daughter to speak out against what THEY think is wrong."

    True, and then we can call them out as ignorant bigots. Isn't free speech wonderful. Problem being gay is not a choice but being a ignorant bigot likely is.

  • seal5050 Oct 21, 12:18 p.m.

    Some of you have seen this about my daughter, some not. Age 15, my daughter tried to commit suicide because in her words,"she thought the world would be a better place without her in it". this came at a point in her life when a church we attended showed her hate instead of love. I see those who are posting like "lovethesouth1" and milesberger5 being just like a few kids in the church youth group. The majority of folks tho rallied around her such as her family and true friends helped her through this horrible time. You can choose to hate her and anyone like her and believe what you wish. That is your right, I agree, I accept that. What I don't accept or will be silent about is the actual harm you cause, real harm. My dauther is not a second class citizen, she pays taxes like everyone else but does not have the same rights under the law as most of us do. She does not deserve to be beaten and picked on because of who she was born to be, who she is.

  • seal5050 Oct 21, 12:03 p.m.

    lovethesouth1----"Not everyone sees your point of view as the "right thing", and those people have just as many rights as you and your daughter to speak out against what THEY think is wrong. So, regardless of your views, freedom of speech allows you to have whatever point of view you want. Being obnoxious and forcing your beliefs on others isn't the way to go about it, both ways. You have to accept that others also have a right to feel their lifestyle is the "right" one.

    I will ALWAYS STAND up for my child and anyone who is being hurt by bigotry and hate such as yourself. I never said you didn't have a right to feel the way you do and we can agree to disagree. And no where was I the one being obnoxious or forcing anything on anyone except you. Where I draw the line is when a person's view or belief turns into action that causes harm to another human being.

  • seal5050 Oct 21, 11:30 a.m.

    milesberger5-There is no choice except in your case to be a bigot. YOu do not speak for God and we sure don't need to hear another so called bible thumping cherry picking Christian misinterpret the bible to hide their hate behind. The few wrong wings religious bigots on this site say the same old thing over and over like a stuck record. I guess we should ask you at what age did you decide to be straight? You can disagree and not like something but NOT at the cost of harm to another human being. No one is trying to tell you how to live your life or deny you anything. Gay is not a behavior.

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