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Orange armbands revive protest

Elizabeth Cheffers | Monday, October 4, 2004

As part of a continued effort to contest Notre Dame’s No. 1 Princeton Review ranking for intolerance of “alternate lifestyles,” members of the unrecognized student group AllianceND organized a demonstration at the Purdue game to show its solidarity with gay and lesbian students.

Members of AllianceND distributed orange armbands to 1,500 people outside the student gate to the stadium before the game, said Anna Gomberg, co-coordinator of the project.

“We were very pleased with the overall reaction,” Gomberg said. “We were aiming to hand out one thousand armbands and we ended up handing out all 1,500.”

Alex Renfro, a freshman who helped pass out armbands, agreed.

“The purpose was to spread our message and they definitely did that,” he said.

However, even with the high participation rate, many students who saw the armbands did not know their purpose.

Sophomore Ann Flies said while she saw the orange armbands, she was unaware of their significance.

Gomberg said AllianceND did less advertising before this event because it was seeking approval from the administration with regards to distribution.

“The administration was very supportive of our efforts,” she said, highlighting its quick approval of Alliance’s proposed central location for passing out the bands.

Gomberg said that since AllianceND is an unrecognized club, members are unable to advertise through posters or other public means. Instead, it gains publicity through a listserv e-mail, making it more difficult to increase student awareness, she said.

AllianceND had discussed the possibility of holding another orange T-shirt “Gay? Fine by Me” demonstration at the football game, but decided to use orange armbands instead so that the students could still show their unity and support for the football team by wearing green, Gomberg said.

In addition to the armbands, the club is also planning another orange T-shirt demonstration in mid-November, and is eager to get new freshman involved in the movement.

AllianceND will also be sponsoring a “Come Out of Your Closet” event on Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.

As the group expected, the armbands were not universally welcomed.

“By and large, the only negative reaction we got was an understandably cold reaction from those whose moral values do not lead them to agree with AllianceND’s message,” Gomberg said.

Freshman Steve Currie was one student who disagreed with the message behind the demonstration.

Although he stated his respect for homosexuals as made in the image of God, he felt wary about the publicity the demonstrations create.

“It is inappropriate at a Catholic university to send a message of support for the homosexual lifestyle,” Currie said.

Despite the negative reaction of some students and alumni, members of AllianceND considered the event a success.

“A major part of our group’s role is to increase dialogue about this issue on campus and I think we accomplished that,” Gomberg said.