Message from President Mary Sue Coleman to the LGBT Rally
October 11, 2002
Im very sorry that I cannot be with you here today, but I want you to know how important I consider this rally to be in the life of the University community. I also want you to know how much I honor, admire and respect the courage you have to express and affirm who you are.
As proudly transgender, bi-sexual, lesbian, and gay male individuals and groups, you bear witness every day to a freedom were all entitled to enjoy. Sadly, not all in our society grant you that freedom, and some seek to punish you for expressing it, to the point of threats, intimidation and violence. The attacks on gays and lesbians in West Hollywood in recent weeks are an awful reminder of this fact, as is the brutal assault on Matthew Shepard, who died four years ago tomorrow.
One of the cherished values of this Universityone that Ive had occasion to cite in recent weeksis the respect we owe each other simply as human beings and as fellow members of this community, whoever we are. We constantly strive to build a community that is welcoming to all, one that fosters tolerance and mutual respect. That we are striving means we arent there yet. I want you to know that I will do everything I can as President and as a person advance this value.
Our community is widely diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, age, political and religious beliefs. In fact we are 38,000 distinct individuals. That is our true diversity. In this community, indeed, throughout this land, we each have a right to be and express who we are. That is why this rally and Coming Out Week are so important.
I am proud to lead a university that has seen 31 years of serviceon campus and in the communityby its Office of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Affairs, the first of its kind in the nation.
And I am so proud to lead a universityand to live in a communitythat values your individuality and mine. I support you. I salute you.