By Alagra Bass
A few weekends ago, Andrew Vinales ‘13 went home to visit his brother. As the two of them walked down the street, a guy yelled “HOMO!” from his car. What bothered Vinales and his brother the most is that could not understand what satisfaction anyone can get out of yelling taunts and slurs at other people.
“To me, it’s just cowardly.” Vinales, like many of us, has both friends and family members that identify within the LGBTQ community.
Those a part of the LGBTQ/I (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning/intersex) community deal with these types of situations everyday and deal with even worse circumstances in other countries, where many of these personal identities are not even allowed. As of 2009, more than seventy-five different countries around the word have deemed consensual same sex acts criminal activity. At least four other countries, although they do not have laws against homosexuality, use other laws to punish homosexual acts.
Throughout the world, people who identify with this community suffer all types of hardships. In Kenya, one of the most stringent countries, there are numerous types of rules against the LGBTQ community. Male-male relationships are forbidden by law, and “violators” can be sentenced to ten years in prison. Female relationships, however, are not illegal. Although lesbian relationships are permitted, there is no age at which same-sex couples are able to consent to sexual activities with one another. The government does not protect the freedom of expression, prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, or recognize any same-sex relationship. Individual or coupled gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals are not allowed to adopt children. None of these groups are able to serve in the armed forces and they require those that identify with one of these groups to test for HIV. The law recognizes no legal distinction between homosexual and transgendered individuals.
[pullquote]“As of 2009, more than seventy-five different countries around the word have deemed consensual same-sex acts criminal activity.”[/pullquote]
In other countries, laws go as far as to not allow gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals to donate blood. The governement can institutionalize even those who do not self-identify in one of these groups, especially if they are HIV positive.
There are very few, if any, constitutional or practical arguments that support not counting those of various sexual orientations as equals. Although we all can agree that American society has come a long way, just as with other social issues, it still has a long way to go.
“Society in general is not accepting enough. There’s no such thing as enough acceptance! I think the American society needs to do more to push for appreciation and acceptance. I will not be satisfied until society has it that anyone who is part of the LGBT community is not afraid to show it. Society needs to be more open, not just in big cities but small towns in Middle America need to improve. Finally, I am a firm believer that homosexuals should have the right to marry legally,” Vinales explained.
Vinales points out that Union’s campus seems pretty accepting and supportive of its LGBTQ community. Students recently held two rallies, and ongoing events at Iris House are testimony to steps in the right direction. Vinales is not the only one who feels that society has a long way to go and that the prejudices and stereotypes concerning the LGBTQ community need to be done away with. At a talk that ALAS hosted last week, some issues and prejudices that do not seem to make much sense were talked about in depth.
Only together can groups overcome prejudice and stereotypes, so educate yourselves on these issues! The web is at your disposal and there are continual campus-wide events.
Vinales has vowed not to marry until those a part of the LGBTQ community also have the right to do so.