A queer view

Posted on Sep 27 2012 - 12:30pm by Lacey Russell

People, this is college – the time allotted to the youth of America to challenge ideals, question traditions and dabble in the occasional radical activism. Instead, we become bogged down with meaningless social events and shirk physical interactions for a few taps on an electronic tablet.
Even though experiencing moments of reflection has become clichéd and commercialized, the search for these moments must not be abandoned like those dented red Solo cups you toss in the grass. Look around you. Not just at the person sitting beside you and not just at the trees as you walk back to your car, but at everything beyond this candy-coated city of Oxford.
Out in this whole new world you will find people of different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, political beliefs and, yes, even religions. Look even closer, and you will find issues currently dealing with the undermining and discrimination of many of these differences. You could even connect some of those issues to people here on this very campus.
One in particular is the issue of queer rights.
As some of you may know, gay marriage circles in the political skies and has become a talking point for many a presidential candidate, pastor and, more recently, a meat-frying company owner. Whether you are lesbian, straight, transgendered, gay or anything in between, decisions regarding this issue determine the progression of America as a nation and should be very important to you.
Great moments in this nation’s history revolve around obstacles overcome by oppressed minority groups. In fact, our university is currently honoring one of those great moments this year (50 years of integration).
Although the quest for queer rights is different from the one pursued and still pursued by black Americans, the call for equality is similarly imperative and present in both.
Some people have beliefs that may hinder their acceptance of queer rights, whether passed down through a family line or a holy book, but let’s just make one thing clear: Any opinion that denigrates and places another group at an intentional and unfair disadvantage is wrong.
When an opinion leads to multimillion-dollar donations to organizations that work to unjustly limit the rights of another group, there’s something wrong. When opinions lead to a system where children are bullied to the point of increasing the suicide rate, someone should take interest.
It is our responsibility as college students in America to think for ourselves, weigh the facts and take interest in things that will affect our future and our posterity. It’s essential that resources be sought out to right these wrongs,  especially in the South where issues such as the “non-heterosexual one” can get shoved under the rug, prayed into “non-existence” or bullied into the closet.
Looking for a good starting point? How about “that’s so gay?”
I’ve heard this phrase many times on this campus and cringe at its utterance. I want to lash out at the speaker, but I know that the phrase exists because some people simply don’t know.
The phrase “that’s so gay” is a loaded phrase. It implies that whatever that was “so gay” was apparently not cool enough, therefore connecting “gay” with an unwanted negative connotation.
On behalf of plenty a queer folk, I urge you to refrain from the usage of this phrase. I hear a strong vocabulary is rather useful in the world of academia.
Even if you feel like you are not to the point at which you can fully accept the queer community, you can at least do this little thing to soften the pain many people receive for much of their lives. Pay more attention to what you say, the beliefs you act on and how those words and actions may affect the people around you.
Imagine going through the day having to act completely different just so people sitting beside you in class won’t look at you as a second-class citizen. Think about being different from the “normal” you see at your school, on your television or in your mainstream movies. Think about risking your life for your country and coming home to a wall blocking you from the same rights with which others are born.
It’s a strange thing, this queer perspective, but it’s one that I and many people of the world, America and The University of Mississippi share.