Melanie Pang" />
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Thursday, September 28, 2023


GLBT month calls for awareness

For the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, "coming out of the closet" is a life-changing decision. The choice to make your sexual orientation public knowledge is a choice that should be made by the person exposing his or herself to the world and no one else. It’s easy to look back in time and consider ourselves lucky that we don’t have to fear being "out and about," but it simply isn’t true. And if the gruesome murders of Matthew Shepard, 22, and Lawrence King, 15, are not enough to convince you, there’s no telling what will.

October is GLBT History Month, a time to explore the history of the "queer community." However, the reminiscence is not quite a sweet stroll down memory lane. Many accredit the Stonewall riots of 1969 to be the beginning of the gay and lesbian rights movement in the United States. However the GLBT movement of the 1950s was already underway.

Two groups that emerged from the 1950s, The Mattachine Society and The Daughters of Bilitis, approached change by trying to work within the system to gain social acceptability in the least hostile way possible. As time progressed with efforts that did not reflect the revolutionary atmosphere of the time, many younger activists began to take a more radical stance, resulting in "the last straw"- the Stonewall riots, a series of riots taking place after a routine police raid at the notoriously gay-friendly Stonewall Inn, a small bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Hundreds, and eventually thousands, erupted into what is regarded as the match that lit the fire behind the gay liberation movement, and there’s still plenty of fuel left.

Society still places many constraints on GLBT culture. Even with protective laws and legislation, the fate of a person is still determined by the judge, the cop with a nightstick or the business owner with the right to refuse service. Children are raised to believe that if another child doesn’t have both a mother and father, his or her family is illegitimate. What about comprehensive sexuality education in schools? If heterosexual safe sex is being taught in schools because students are having heterosexual sex, why not have an explanation of safe homosexual sex, too?

Ironically, those wanting to serve our country in the military have to hide an important piece of their identity in order to protect our rights as Americans. Hate crimes against people in the GLBT community remain prevalent, especially considering many crimes go unreported.

Like any mass movement, it takes everyone to make a difference. As students, we can only do so much to help laws and national rights by voting for open-minded, accepting representatives and by showing support for any and all campus legislation regarding the inclusion and protection of rights. So, with National Coming Out Day coming up on Oct. 11, everyone is invited to take the first step in helping revolutionize for the better how we treat one another.

Refrain from calling inanimate objects, such as your homework, gay. The next time you want to use "gay" as an insult, replace it with the word "fabulous" in your mind and you can almost bet you won’t even open your mouth. Don’t be intimidated by people who look or dress differently than you. Educate yourself on the terms transsexual, transgender and transvestite because, yes, there is a difference. Support your GLBT friends by being open-minded to hearing about their relationships, or even listen to their coming out stories.

Queers, stop calling each other the same derogatory names that homophobes use. It confuses uninformed people about what is actually appropriate. Stop fitting negative generalizations and stereotypes so that they will dissolve into nothing more than empty rumors, but don’t forget to take a joke for what it is.

No matter what the loudest chant is at the next pride parade, the sad truth is that the fight for equality is far from over. If you cross the wrong person in line at a restaurant, having an alternate gender expression can cost you a beating in the parking lot. In the U.S., two women holding hands on the street is not just a sign of affection, it’s also a welcome sign for glares and passing judgment. And Two men kissing in public could have them killed.

Ultimately, we all just want the freedom to be ourselves with the people we love. We’re here, we’re queer, let’s hurry up and get used to it.

Pang, a communication senior, can be reached via [email protected]

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