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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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    Straight people must come out, too

    Twenty years ago, on Oct. 11, 1987, half a million people marched on Washington D.C. for LGBTQ equality, and the following year, National Coming Out Day was born. Because we are often invisible, even to each other, NCOD is a day when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are urged to “”come out”” – to openly declare our sexual orientation and gender identity. Starting Oct. 8, a weeklong UA celebration will commemorate NCOD.

    The premise behind NCOD is that as people become more aware of how many LGBTQ people actually exist, it is difficult to dehumanize and demonize us. For some, it is easy to hate LGBTQ people when you (think you) don’t know any; it becomes more difficult to hate someone who is already your favorite classmate, co-worker, resident assistant, tÇðo, admin assistant, professor, frat brother, coach, clerk, librarian or dean. NCOD reminds us all that it’s passǸ to hate or make fun of gays. In fact, 71 percent of UA students believe LGBTQ people should have equal rights.

    There is another group of people who also should come out on NCOD: straight allies. A straight ally is someone who is not LGBTQ but who advocates for the equal rights and fair treatment of LGBTQ people. Just as men supported women’s right to vote, and whites joined the black civil rights movement, LGBTQ people need strong, visible allies. Ally voices are often heard when LGBTQ people are silenced, scared, disparaged or ignored.

    As an ally, you have privilege you didn’t ask for and that you may not even be aware exists. For example, you can display pictures of your boyfriend or girlfriend at work or in the dorm without being accused of ‘flaunting’; you hold hands on the UA Mall with the person you love and it is seen as sweet; you feel welcomed in your church; and you don’t hear phrases like “”that’s so straight”” and know it means something negative. Your freedom comes with a responsibility to speak up on behalf of people who don’t have it – allies need to come out because it is the right thing to do.

    As an ally, interrupt homophobic jokes when you hear them by simply saying, “”Not cool””; openly acknowledge and value your LGBTQ friends and family members; or join in the UA Coming Out Week celebration. As an ally, you can make a simple, positive, powerful difference.

    Cathy Busha

    incoming director, UA LGBTQ affairs

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