I’ve recently had the words “intolerance” and “ignorance” defined for me. After reading more than 50 e-mails from the UMaine’s College Republican folder on FirstClass, I felt sick to my stomach. Then, I wrote a letter to my friend – a letter it pained me to write: “I’m SO sorry you live in this type of world where you cannot just live the way you want to live and be who you truly are inside. No ands, ifs or buts – this is unfair and unjust.”
The virtual discussion began after an e-mail was forwarded to the folder informing students about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies courses that are offered this summer and next fall. The first reply was “You have to be kidding me. This has got to be a joke of some sort.” The second reply was, “Yah, it’s a sad world we’re living in when you can get a college education in gay studies.”
From there, people argued back and forth about the pros and cons of gay studies offered at UMaine – “I think I would probably laugh a person out of my office if they were there for a job interview and that is what their degree was in.” Gay marriage – right and wrong based on the Bible’s – “Do you think God is going to send you to hell if you are nice to [people who are gay] or friends with them? Because that is dumbest thing if you think that.” Sexual acts – “Why can’t you guys just **ck and suck each other in the privacy of your own home instead of shoving your lifestyle down our throats?”
I firmly believe in the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, and thus these students do have every right to form their own beliefs and say what they think and feel about homosexuality. Still, what I read in that FirstClass folder makes me wonder just how some of these people were intelligent and mature enough to be accepted to a university.
Who do they think they are assuming that it is their responsibility to ensure that marriage remains between one person with a penis and another with a vagina? What makes it their job in life to guarantee that anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is depressed, beaten, fought against, tortured and disrespected? No one has the right to make another human being feel inferior based on his or her true nature. It’s simply inhumane.
Just as African Americans and others deserve the right to live with respect in a white world, so do homosexuals deserve to live in a primarily heterosexual world. Anything less is unjust. The only choice related to homosexuality is the choice heterosexuals need to make to let homosexuals live in peace. I wonder what choices we all make regarding these issues.
One student posted that he might choose to return to his former college, “In my happy, open-minded environment where I am not criticized for existing and being who I am.” Think about the ramifications of that. Think about how it would feel to live that way day in and day out. Think about the choices you make when you contribute to others suffering in this way.
While it was certainly not the last word among the students’ FirstClass postings, in the end this will undoubtedly be all that’s left to say in the discussion of gay rights: “I hope you learn to cope with living in a world with gay people, because we aren’t going away.”
Angela Fiandaca is a straight ally to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.