Gay, fag, queer, homo.
In the 17 years I have spent on this earth, the 12 years I have spent in school and the four years on this campus I have heard these words used carelessly and cruelly.
For many of these years I remained silent. Scared of judgment from my friends and persecution from my peers, I kept quiet when sexual slurs were spoken. I kept my disgust, irritation and frustration towards these insensitive comments hidden. I convinced myself that speaking up for the targeted, the persecuted, the victimes would solve nothing. I assumed that, the fact that I am straight meant it didn’t affect me, it wasn’t important, it didn’t matter.
It wasn’t until an encounter with a member of my family that my perspective began to change.
Sitting on the luxurious leather couch in my grandfather’s house in Sausalito with casual conversations and typical small talk filling the air, I prepared myself for yet another Thanksgiving dinner. Next to me with a mini plate of hors d’oerves in one hand, a glass of wine in the other sat my uncle’s boyfriend Bill, entertaining the room with his boisterous anecdotes and jokes we llok forward to every family gathering.
But as the uncomfortable air of the family gathering dissipated, I began to learn things about Bill that I was previously unaware of. Growing up in a strict Mormon family the idea of coming out to his family and to himself did not seem realistic.
He felt repressed, confined and restricted, forced to deny his natural self for the sake of his religion, the sake of his family.
When he finally mustered the courage to identify as gay the demeaning, bigoted and prejudiced views of the narrow-minded were unleashed.
Facing opposition from those around him and being turned down from jobs, he faced the true extent of conservative minds. And yet still he is considered lucky. Yes, today’s society is more accepting; yes, support is easier to find. But, until the idea of a lack of marriage equality, a lack of true civil equality, is no longer deemed laughable, equality can never be embraced simply because it doesn not exist.
However, because of conversations like these with members of my family as well as the environment with which I now surround myself, I can openly stand up for this crucial issue and identify myself as the figure I hope every citizen will soon become: an ally.
Joining groups such as Casa’s Queer Straight Alliance I can now take pride in my accepting view rather than repress it, take pride in monumental events like Obama’s support of marriage equality rather than ignore them, and take pride in direction our society is heading.