Fuels My Ball of Fire

“I’ll see people down the hallway, and they’ll walk out a door because they know who I am. They don’t want to ‘catch the gay.'”

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Transcript for Fuels My Ball of Fire

Currently I am a co-president for Alliance which is our, like, LGBT group on campus.  Freshman year, I felt as if I was kind of out of the norm in that I had a basic understanding of perhaps what it meant to be different, so I felt as if I should more or less try to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves, kind of thing.  Because I’ve had too many friends that were either gay, or black, or Hispanic, or some type of Asian and they transferred or left because they did not feel welcome, because they felt like their lives were in danger, kind of thing.

It’s more difficult to be open and out to everyone on campus.  Easier to be out and open just to your close friends, kind of thing.  Especially with Tia trying to take a seat as a minority senator in Student Senate, and then being kicked off because she’s not a ‘real minority’—that’s when Alliance kind of started to speak up like, ‘Ok, this is bullshit.’

But freshman year, I was out to my roommate and then just a couple of good friends.  And then the guys on my floor—they, they knew, but it was nothing that anyone ever spoke about, kind of thing.  Somehow, over the last two years, I myself and then Tia as well have become kind of the poster children for Alliance and the gays, kind of thing.  So that’s kind of disconcerting and uncomfortable because I’ll see people in the hallway and they’ll walk around you, or, like, they’ll walk out a door because they know who I am, kind of thing.  They don’t want to ‘catch the gay.’ I think people actually think they can ‘catch the gay.’

Were I to be honest with someone and tell them about just the community here, I would just caution them first and foremost, tell them the truth and say it’s not exactly a diverse population.  And if you identify in any certain non-majority way, your experience here may be difficult. That’s not to say you can’t do it, just that it may be difficult compared to your other peers who are of majority standing, kind of thing.

I mean, there’d be times when I’d be walking down the hallway or going across campus and people would intentionally avoid me.  And I, I mean, it was very obvious what they were doing, kind of thing.  There has been times, and even walking around town—I remember specifically freshman and sophomore year, there was two instances in which I was walking down Roosevelt and Lincolnway, and I didn’t think I was out to anyone at the time. I was like, ‘Oh, what does it matter?’ But there were cars that drove by and just shouted, ‘Fag,’ and kind of, ‘Go back home,’ kind of thing.

And then, just even, it’s just like when people speak to you, there’s a certain place that they speak from, and you can kind of tell it on their face, kind of thing.  So whenever I have a conversation with this one woman, she just speaks to me from—I don’t want to say a place of hatred or disgust—but she just speaks from a very dark place.  I know that it fuels my little ball of fire that I have, but… Change, I think is something, that doesn’t come easily. I think it’s just a matter of time, and waiting it out, and reaching younger minds.  Proactive waiting, and effort.  But, time.  I don’t know. I think there’s more finesse to that, if you want things done, if you want the climate changed the way you want it to.  Or the way you feel it would best serve everyone, kind of thing.

  • Bryn Cooley

    As ignorant as this sounds, I feel like my number one reaction to people literally walking away from me because of my sexuality would be ‘annoyed.’ I guess I find it difficult to believe that people would truly be that unwelcoming, but there is clearly evidence of it. It’s just sad, that people can’t be more accepting.

    • Rachel

      I completely agree Bryn. It’s really disappointing that all we can do is say things like “Change takes time” and “We’ll have to wait to reach younger generations.” It’s frustrating that people are so bogged down by their upbringings or homophobias that they can’t at least respect someone as a person enough not to act physically disgusted with them. But, as they say, change takes time.