Pride is something that takes a long time to discover, whether it be of race, sex, religion, physical disability or sexual orientation.

For many gays and lesbians, college is one of the most common places where they are able to find out who they are and where they belong. Indeed, it is not gay people being comfortable with themselves that becomes the issue, but gay people being comfortable within society, proud of what they inevitably have no control over.

Unfortunately, the issue of gay people finding out who they are and having pride in their sexuality scares some people because it means gay people have strength. Someone who is proud stands up with confidence for what they are and what they believe, no matter how strong the adversity.

People are generally scared because of ignorance, which brings up issues of racism, homophobia, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Sex, although it separates gay people from straight people, is a very small part of a gay person’s make-up.

No matter how often this is emphasized, however, hatred and discrimination follow gay people like the plague. This same plague killed Mathew Shepard. It has denied gay people numerous rights ? adopting children, enjoying the same benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples, and, sadly, gaining equal justice and support in their own schools.

The policy on sexual harassment towards gay people at UR is vague, and does not fall under the normal category of sexual harassment.

Translation? It’s okay to openly discriminate against gay people, because anyone can get away with it.

Something happened to my friend Michael Jorgenson and me last Saturday. After being a little rowdy with a group of friends in the dorm lounge, the RA on-call at Eastman was notified by an anonymous caller that there was noise coming from the lounge. The RA promptly acted and asked us to leave the lounge ? we were, of course, respectful and left.

Mike and I were on our way down a staircase, when the anonymous caller, not so anonymous anymore, accosted us, insisting how disrespectful we were. We brushed this person off, trying to avoid a confrontation, and he continued yelling at us, using such popular words as, “fucking homos” and “fucking faggots.”

Acts like this are not uncommon against gay people like myself and Mike, and ignorance will always be present in society. Acts like this should not go overlooked anywhere, especially in an expensive, private institution.

However, they usually are. Anti-gay graffiti is left for public display, with little or no effort from administration to cover it up, or punish those individuals responsible. An instance at Eastman last year, a week after National Coming Out Day, where someone posted pornographic posters of men and animals with the title “National Going Back In Day,” shocked the gay community, yet nothing could be done.

It is unacceptable and outrageous that we cannot feel safe in our own dorm rooms, because we live next to someone who is homophobic, blinded by ignorance and stupidity. It is no longer acceptable to brush off instances like this, hoping that they won’t occur anymore, because they always do.

It is time for administration and friends alike to step up to the plate, and fight for a community under attack. And if nothing else, this letter is to let everyone know that we are proud. Proud of what God has given us, proud of what we can do despite discrimination. Pride is something that takes a long time to discover, but once it’s there, there is no shaking it.

Sweet can be reached at zsweet@campustimes.org.



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