‘It’s OK. Nate; I still love you even though you’re going to Hell.’
These words were said to me, in all seriousness, by a friend in high school, when I came out to her.
This was the length of time before my brother started speaking to me again after I came out to him. We have spoken online every day since I was 15. I told him when I was 18.
These were some of my experiences when I decided to tell people I loved that I was gay. And these are considerably tame responses. Run a Google search for ‘coming out stories’ to find others if you wish. Many of them do not have happy endings. Many of you will find, and too many that I have heard personally, have had anything but happy endings, experiences or, well, anything.
Why? Why should Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and anyone else who falls under the umbrella we in the Community often called Queer have to suffer this experience? Why do we have to announce to others who we are, many times to terrifying responses?
Simple. Society refuses to accept people who are Queer. For whatever reason, it is true.
I’d like to take you, the New U. reader, back to Nov. 3, to a commentary published in this approximate space. Within its 800 or so words, the author laid out the real reason why Queers (well, actually, she said ‘gay men,’ thus ignoring a good 30 to 40 percent of the Queer Community) are not accepted: We simply refuse to accept sex between a man and a woman (and I don’t mean accept as in ‘please, have some’).
The shock! The horror! The absolute injustice of it all! How dare those Queers not accept such a thing! Thinking they can get away with such bigotry … wait! that’s not right …
The simple truth is that if you are Queer, you absolutely accept that men and women do in fact have sex with each other (hell, it’s pretty much how the majority of us got here).
We have no choice.
Being Queer in America today means you are constantly inundated with the images and descriptions of hetero-sex and sexuality. Worse yet, we are raised with the impression that this is the only way to be (and no it is not a ‘choice,’ nor is it a ‘lifestyle’).
Believe me when I say the vast majority of LBGT persons accept hetero-sex, whether we want to or not. To blame LBGT persons for the persecution we experience individually and as a community is tantamount to blaming African-Americans for being African-American, Asian-Americans for being Asian-American or anyone for retaining their individuality and identity.
To say that the previous commentary insulted me would be an understatement.
Actually to say that it’s an understatement is itself an understatement. And that would not even fully capture the insult I experienced. I spend my mornings driving to campus listening to NPR’s morning news. Throughout the day I’ll check the news online while I work in my lab. And throughout I continually see the leaders of this American society claim that they love freedom for all: that all people are equal. This is a nice thought. Except that in the same breathe these leaders decry Gay Marriage as a sin worth destruction.
Now, I have a boyfriend whom I love very deeply. We’ve already begun planning our future together including adoption, owning a business together and getting married … except we can’t complete that last goal.
The astute reader will recognize that Vermont has Civil Unions and that California affords many of the same benefits that marriage confers. This is true except that a ‘unionized’ couple leaves these benefits and protections behind when they leave the state in question.
These state legislative acts are nice and all, but I don’t much appreciate this ‘separate-but-equal’ policy.
I think most people know from American History what happened the last time we tried such policies, yet here we find history repeating. And if you want to try the ‘sanctity of marriage’ defense that the president and too many legislators have put forth, I would like to bring your attention to marriages conducted by civilian officials outside the confines of a place of worship, or simply to Las Vegas.
Now I reference the Queer Community in this commentary, but I cannot claim to speak for the Community as a whole; it is as complex and varied as the larger society. But I can speak for myself and for the experiences of myself and the other Queers I have encountered.
I wholly concede to the author of the previous commentary that we do in fact need, as a society, to have more open, frank, discussions about sex and sexuality; the fact that we do not have them is not the fault of the Queer Community.
But if the worst a straight person has had to experience is the occasional ‘eww gross’ from an LBGT person (who is most likely more fed-up than disgusted) when they discuss them he or she should count themselves lucky; he or she hasn’t had to dodge beer bottles and rocks thrown with those insults like I have.
Nathan Emmott is a graduate student in chemistry.