Coming Out Week
Society does not give members of the LGBTQ community enough credit.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer population has made incredible progress from the days when being anything other than heterosexual was viewed as taboo.
There has been an increase in LGBTQ acceptance, but the hate crimes should never be forgotten. The way members of the community feel when they first portray their true selves to society, and essentially come out, should not be overlooked.
According to thetaskforce.org, "the anti-gay industry has made great gains over the past two decades, restricting family recognition in 39 states and parenting in at least seven. It continues to work feverishly to restrict the rights of LGBT people, among others."
It is our job, as individuals, to ensure these anti-gay industries are not succeeding in their attempts to dehumanize our fellow humans.
The following are hate crimes, listed on civilrights.org, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation:
In Richmond, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2008, an openly gay 28-year-old woman was attacked and gang raped by four men (including two juveniles) on a street outside her parked car. The perpetrators took her to a second location and assaulted her again - all the while making slurs about her sexual orientation.
In Oxnard, Calif., on Feb. 12, 2008, 15-year-old Lawrence King was sitting in a computer lab at his junior high school when Brandon McInerney, 14, shot him twice in the head as their fellow students watched in horror.
In Greeley, Colo., on July 16, 2008, Angie Zapata, 20, was fatally beaten by her date after he discovered she was transgender. Zapata's killer, Allen Andrade, told police that after he discovered Zapata had male genitalia, he hit her twice in the head with a fire extinguisher thinking he had "killed it."
In Greenville, S.C., on May 21, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a gay man, died of injuries sustained after he was attacked outside a bar. While making derogatory comments regarding Kennedy's sexual orientation, the assailant fatally beat and punched him until he fell and hit his head on the pavement.
To those of you who are anti-gay: what if you just found out one of your classmates, whom you've been working on class projects with since freshman year, was gay? Would your view of him or her completely change? Would he or she no longer be the smart, kind and helpful human being who you've considered he or she to be for so long?
Let's take this to the next level: what if it was your best friend coming out of the closet? A sibling? A parent?
According to avert.org, "young LGBT people need more than just practical support when coming out; acceptance and understanding are crucial. Many young LGBT people are undermined when they try to talk about their sexuality and gender identity by parents, teachers, and even doctors dismissing their feelings as a phase. Many young people experiment as they are learning more about their sexuality. However, for young LGBT people, coming out is not a phase but an important part of their life. When this is not recognized by close friends and family, young LGBT people often find coming out much harder."
I personally don't understand how it feels to disclose such real and personal, yet seemingly unacceptable, information about myself to society.
I could not imagine what it feels like to wonder whether or not my friends and family would still love me after they found out who I really was.
But what I do know is that I have the utmost respect for those who have struggled with their sense of self and who came out of the closet proudly and strongly, regardless of what others may think.
This week is Coming Out Week at UB. Take a moment to tell your friends how much you appreciate them, how much you honor their ability to come out and to be themselves and how much you love them for who they are. Make sure the hate crimes are never forgotten and society continues to push forward in accepting members LGBTQ community for who they are: humans.
Heterosexuals have feelings. They have friends. They have family. They have hopes, dreams and goals. They like to eat. When they fall and scrape a knee, they bleed and it hurts. When something good happens to them, they smile. They have opinions. They become stressed. They like to have fun. They breathe, they sleep and sometimes they wake up with the common cold.
I have a serious question: do homosexuals not do, feel or think all of those things?
Then why are they still discriminated against?
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