Staking a claim for diverse public displays of affection, approximately 250 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples and supporters gathered Saturday in the Roseville shopping mall's outdoor patio.
Couples kissed, held hands and danced during the post-mall security guard controversy's "Love is Love" event.
While originally publicized as a climactic “kiss-in,” attendees mostly listened to music and sporadically kissed or embraced, creating a communal atmosphere.
The "PDAs," attendees reiterated, were intended to help others feel more comfortable with seeing gay couples show adoration in public places.
Sacramento resident Carrie Martin, who helped organize the love-fest, said she did not have any angry feelings toward the security guard or the mall. “The reality is that people are still uncomfortable and don’t know what to do around queer people,” she said. “It’s not hateful.”
Beforehand, gay rights organizers set up the event on Facebook and coordinated with mall officials.
Speakers included Beverly Kearney, who originated the event, and David Larson, a former Roseville City Council candidate and founding president of Sacramento's Rainbow Coalition. Keith Kaplan, the mall’s vice president for development, also addressed the crowd.
Kearney, said she wants everyone to feel welcome in public places. “It is time for a revolution,” she said. “We cannot accept discrimination anymore.”
Larson, called for a future where gay couples can openly show general affection in Roseville. “What is important 'today' is the history we are making 'today' in Roseville,” Larson said. “And what is important is how we make that history.”
Attendees like Dan McGhan, who kissed his partner a few times during the event, came to show support for Chesmore and Guzman. The couple were not seen attending.
“I’m not (usually) a big supporter of public displays of affection, but if someone does a little bit I don’t think they should be kicked out of a mall,” said McGhan, 49 of Sacramento. “More and more people are showing affection and we don’t want them to go through this.”
Galleria officials laid out a virtual red carpet for the event-goers providing amenities with servers offering attendees complimentary bottled waters, Mrs. Fields cookies and hot chocolate. They also commissioned an arched-entryway made of rainbow-colored balloons.
Mall officials issued an apology in a statement posted March 5 on Facebook.
“Obviously we are excited about this. It is a great time to work with everyone and host this,” said Stephanie Ringey, Westfield spokeswoman. When asked if the security guard had been reprimanded in anyway, Ringey said that was “out of her area.”
However, she said mall officials are re-visiting their sensitivity training. “(Management) is looking at that and working with the LGBT community to see if there is room for enhancements or additions.”
Since the incident, Ringey said “We don’t want anyone to feel singled out or unwelcome.”
Some onlookers stopped and took part, while others walked by and continued shopping. Some, were surprised by the event, including Roseville mother and shopper Lauren Tay.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate next to the playground,” said Tay, who came to the patio’s outdoor play area with her two toddlers. “I have no problem with it. I don’t think they should be doing it next to the kids though.”
Gay rights representatives from the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center as well as many from Parents, Families, Friends and Allies (PFLAG), the BRAVE (Bullies Really are Violating Everyone) Society of Sacramento and the Gay, Straight Alliance of Del Oro High School joined event organizers.