About 60 people protested homophobia during a high-spirited march and rally at Towson State University yesterday.
The group of students, faculty and supporters marched at lunchtime through the crowded heart of campus, chanting and carrying signs with gay-pride slogans.
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia's got to go!" they shouted repeatedly. Another chant went: "Two, four, six, eight. Gays and straights will end the hate."
The rally, which was organized by the university's Diverse Sexual Orientation Collective, was not sparked by a particular anti-gay incident but was designed to increase awareness of gays and lesbians on campus, organizers said.
"There wasn't an accepting environment for people," said Chris Nathan, a 20-year-old junior from Frederick who organized the rally. "People didn't feel comfortable. I was sick of that."
Hundreds of students watched the march. A few shouted encouragement, most seemed unmoved, and some made it clear they were hostile to the cause of gay rights.
"The whole thing is disgusting," said one female student who declined to give her name.
Several others made honking noises in response to a sign carried by one marcher that read, "Honk if you're ignorant."
One male student walked through the crowd of observers with his own small sign, "Heterosexuals are cool," which sparked light applause or approving comments.
The last gay-rights demonstration at Towson State took place in the spring of 1992 after a bizarre incident in which a man punched a female student. The student, although not gay, was defending the right of a gay professor to teach. The man could not be identified.
The student, Hollie Rice, marched yesterday and took part in a skit at a program later in the day.
Ms. Rice, who is from Ellicott City, said the hostile comments from other students were not a surprise. "When people are confronted with things that make them uncomfortable," she said, "their first reaction is to get obnoxious."