Equality in general has always been a bit of an issue. I was really curious growing up and I guess at some point I became really curious about sexuality. I think the real incident that made me get really into equality rights for all sexualities and genders is when I became involved in a church. I remember sitting in church and listening to my preacher talk about “the gay problem” as he called it. He used words like “abomination,” “life style choices,” and “burn in hell for all eternity.” Then I left and never came back. This was the same preacher that joked about a member of his congregation having a “shot gun wedding” and how funny it was that she had her baby so conveniently 9 months after she got married. He joked about her pre-marital sex and her being the “bad egg” of her family. I went home and started researching about gay rights. I became very open and started talking about it with everyone. I think I became really concerned when I got to college and met the LGBTQ community here. I started getting involved in sexual health and sexual education and gender equality and transgender rights and so so much more. I got overly involved.
Now, I had never seen discrimination until I came here either. Sure, I heard bad things in church but I had never seen anyone be mean to a person in real time until my freshman year at USC. There was a friend of mine who, when I met, I met them by a male name. Halfway through the year, she admitted to everyone that she was transgender and wanted to go through the process of becoming a woman on the outside as much as she felt she was on the inside. The people in my dorm who had previously been her friend, suddenly were extremely rude and hurtful towards her. The only thing she requested was that no one called her “dude” or “man” anymore. She didn’t request that everyone call her a new female name or that they say “she” instead of “he;” it was a minor request and people all but spat in her face. My own roommate wouldn’t allow her to enter our room while she was there for fear of contamination. It was awful. She used to come tell me in secret how excited she was about getting a purse and asking me what she was supposed to keep in it. She was so excited just to learn. People told me they thought she was a freak among other really bad terms.
That was the moment that I realized my world was small and insignificant and far more tolerant than the real big world. Since then, I’ve researched and I’ve participated and I’ve walked for movements when I could. I’ve met much better people and I’ve learned that more often than not, a person with a non heteronormative sexuality will not judge you for any choice or lifestyle you have let alone who they would want to kiss or what their genitalia was.
However, I can sort of understand how people can be closed minded. Those that shunned her come from much different backgrounds than me. For instance, not to stereotype, but I’m a yankee and I think we have a lot calmer beliefs up there as whole when compared to the southern people in the Bible belt. I do not mean this as an all-around truth but rather as we have had much different influences in our lives. For instance, growing up, none of my friends went to church every sunday. I had one friend who did but I had never attended church until I was 13 or 14 and had moved to the south. Now, I was baptized at a church and knew what Lutheran was and all that jazz but I was not raised in a church. I know that in the case of my roommate and another boy in the dorm, they were raised in the church. I had heard my roommate say many times “now the Bible says that’s wrong.” It’s kind of hard to argue with people who believe so strongly in religion. Religion is so very hard to fight. The sad part about it is, it causes so much bigotry in people.
I also believe the bigotry in these people in my dorm may also have stemmed from an innocence in not understanding. When people are not used to having gay people or transgendered people (or to extend it, people of other religions) around them, the unknowing of the thing creates a dislike for the thing. When people are told their whole life that “being gay is wrong” then they are going to strongly believe that being gay is wrong. Now, my roommate is HIGHLY religious. My boyfriend is as well. They also think being gay is super gross and they say they just “don’t get it.” BUT, they also believe that the right they have to practice their religion extends to people who love people of the same gender. My boyfriend always says “I don’t agree with it but it’s not my life.”
I think more people should have that outlook. It took my roommate about 4 years to finally change her opinion on the matter. I think people of both groups are so sure that they are right, that they become overzealous in their fight for their beliefs. I think that as much as heteronormative, Christian, closed-minded people can say “God hates Fags.,” there are people who are non-heteronormative or non-cis gendered that are just as bigoted and strong in their approach.
To be a hippie for a moment, we all just need a little understanding and patience.