Imagine you are back in high school. You walk down the hallway, and out of nowhere youâ€™re shoved against the lockers for no apparent reason. But there is a reason. Itâ€™s because you are gay.
This situation was portrayed in Wednesdayâ€™s â€œGleeâ€ episode â€œNever Been Kissed.â€ Many people may think that the scene was overdramatized, but Iâ€™m here to tell you itâ€™s not.
One of my very best friends is gay and for this column, I asked him to relive some of his past so that I could share it with others. This is what he told me.
â€œI was constantly bullied and taunted. Iâ€™d avoid the â€˜popularâ€™ kids, would take certain hallways where I knew they wouldnâ€™t be and park in an area where they wouldnâ€™t park. I wouldnâ€™t hang out in the main hallways and wouldnâ€™t go to the lunchroom.
I avoided trying out for sports, avoided any kind of activity in the school where those people would be present. It definitely put a limit on what I would do. I never attended a football game, or pep rally, school dance (except prom). It definitely pushed me to try hard and do well in my classes so I didnâ€™t have to be there anymore. I pushed myself to get done and get out of there.
I just … hid, I guess. It made me feel like I wasnâ€™t right, and I wasnâ€™t normal. I felt alone,â€ he said.
As soon as I heard all of this, I couldnâ€™t help but to choke back tears. I canâ€™t imagine what it would feel like to be so picked on that you just wanted to hide.
In the â€œGleeâ€ episode, the gay character Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) receives a message from Blaine (a boy from another school who is also gay) that just reads â€œCourage.â€ At that moment, he is slammed into the lockers by one of the boys on the football team. This time, however, he decides to stand up for himself. â€œIf you are gonna hit me, do it. You canâ€™t punch the gay out of me anymore than I can punch the ignoramous out of you,â€ Hummel said.
As I said in my column on gay rights last spring, being gay is not a decision that is made one day. Itâ€™s who these people are. They canâ€™t help being gay any more than I can help being female. Itâ€™s who we are.
There are organizations out there to help with gay rights. The most driving group is the Human Rights Campaign, which was started in 1980.
According to their website, â€œThe Human Rights Campaign represents a grassroots force of over 750,000 members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, HRC envisions an America where LGBT people are ensured of their basic equal rights and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.â€
One of HRCâ€™s programs is â€œIt Gets Better Project.â€ It urges to commit to the following pledge: â€œEveryone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. Iâ€™ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. Iâ€™ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that â€˜It Gets Betterâ€™.â€
I encourage each of you to take the pledge. I have, and think itâ€™s important to speak out about something so important. Prejudice truly is ignorance, because sometimes the unknown can scare us.
The important thing to remember is that GLBT people are just that, people. They have feelings, ambitions and goals just like you do. Just because you donâ€™t have the same sexual preference does not make them any different.
Iâ€™m lucky enough to be able to share this story, and I hope that many of you do the same. Speak out against injustice and help those around you to feel comfortable with themselves no matter how they were born, biologically.
There is one key word to always remember when doing this, and that word is courage. Have the courage to stand up for what is right, even if no one else is willing to. Help educate others, so that we all benefit. Find your courage.
Robyn Scherer is a graduate student studying integrated resource management. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.