Voices of GLBT youth on campus

Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 - 12:00am

In light of the new Gay Straight Alliance and the movie "Brokeback Mountain," the subject of gay rights has been on the minds of a lot of the students. The CEU GSA club has given gay students and gay- friendly students the opportunity to confront bigotry and speak out about gay rights.

I know what some of you are thinking, being gay is not that big of a deal anymore. Almost everyone has a friend or even a family member who is gay. However even though this is 2006, and it seems as though a lot of people are becoming more accepting of GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) people, there is still much prejudice and stereotypical ideas about gay people.

Also there are still many people, young people especially, who are terrified to come out because of fear that their families will not accept them, may have religious convictions about homosexuality or there maybe other more hostile environments where being gay could possibly get them hurt. However this has not stopped GLBT people from speaking out about themselves and their rights as human beings.

One such student is Tyler Tasker. He is a cosmetology student at CEU and is openly gay. "I have known since I was five years old that I was gay, but it did not become clear until around middle school, I also immediately learned at a young age that people were not accepting."

Gay youth are starting to come out at earlier ages because they want to not lie to anyone and be proud of who they are. This can be a rough and scary experience for a lot people, because you never know how people are going to react. " I started to come out to one friend in the ninth grade, it was not until my senior year of high school that I decided to be completely honest about it, but I also lost a lot of friends because of it," Tasker says. "But now that I am out of high school, I feel so much more confident in myself and not afraid to tell anyone who I am."

Coming out is a harsh, yet liberating journey among many GLBT teens. It is because of the homophobic environment in high schools, many teens feel that they will never be accepted by their peers and drift off into depression and many even have thoughts of suicide. Studies consistently show that a high percentage of gay and lesbian youth (25-30 percent) attempt suicide.

Teens who spout off hurtful and discriminatory remarks are usually not comfortable with their own sexuality and want to take out their inner prejudices on others. However, to put a more positive note on gay rights, studies by the Human Rights Campaign have shown growing support for gays and gay civil rights.

Poll results in August 2003 (conducted by the Democratic polling firm of Peter D. Hart Research Associates and the Republican firm American Viewpoint) showing that 50 percent of registered voters support or accept granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples as long as religious institutions do not have to recognize or perform these marriages. A total of 47 percent were opposed. There is no consensus in this country around denying the legal protections of marriage to same-sex couples.

Quite a number of people, most estimates say that 10 percent of the world's population is mainly attracted to people of the same sex. That is hundreds of millions of people whose deepest and most satisfying relationships are gay. Gays and lesbians come from all walks of life. They include one in 10 of your friends, relatives, teachers, doctors, clergy, bank tellers, nurses, entertainers, athletes, plumbers, electricians, writers, business owners, etc. In fact 99.9 percent of every U.S. county has gay people.

There are countries around the world that are granting marriage equality and civil rights for all people. Three out of five people have said that they either support gay marriage or civil unions. So tolerance and acceptance is growing for GLBT people.

You don't have to be gay to be hated. Racial, religious, ethnic background is only a few of the many reasons people find for hate. Remember, "Hate is in the eyes of the beholder." You are not what they think you are, you are yourself, a unique and beautiful person. Be yourself and make no excuses for it, because none are needed. Walk tall and be proud.

If you are interested in supporting gay rights, check out the GSA group on campus. Meetings are every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. in the Little Theatre.

Filed under: viewpoints