By Jessica Sarrantonio
As a very visible member of the LGBTQ community, it becomes evident who feels comfortable about my sexuality and who does not. Since I am a lesbian and out about it, I am frequently asked the question “How LGBTQ-friendly is Union College?” To which my answer is usually, “I am not sure.”
Have I ever been made fun of for being gay? No. Have I ever faced any discrimination? Not to my knowledge. Then isn’t Union LGBTQ-friendly? Well, Union faculty and staff are the most LGBTQ-friendly people that I have met, but a large portion of the student body does not feel comfortable discussing LGBTQ issues at Union.
If you are one of those students who does not feel comfortable discussing LGBTQ issues, realize that you are probably in the majority. So why is it that students, at a college that has LGBTQ resources such as an ally program and an LGBTQ Safe Space, do not talk about “gay things?” Probably because they have not been exposed to LGBTQ culture and people enough to know how to talk about it.
Some people might not see this as a problem, but it is. Speaking from experience, one of the largest struggles I had while coming to terms with my sexuality was anticipating how my peers would feel. This was difficult to gauge because it seemed like no one talked about gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, asexual or questioning people.
The way to make Union a better place takes an effort from every student. It is acceptable not to understand something that you have never encountered before, but it is unacceptable to not seek answers to questions you may have.
Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community, an ally or perhaps someone who does not feel comfortable talking about LGBTQ-related topics, it is your responsibility as a student to create that discourse. With a friend, or a member of the faculty or staff, ask the questions that are on your mind. Make Union a better place; promote informed discourse about the LGBTQ community.