On any college campus, there is a diverse array of people-different beliefs, styles, backgrounds and lifestyles. Grambling State University is no different. Most people are allowed to be themselves with no static. One issue, however, is still very taboo. That is homosexuality.
Growing up in a rural area and attending a small school my whole life, I know very well how narrow-minded people can be. For some reason, I thought college would be different. I thought that since there were so many people, no one would spend a lot of time worrying about the way others live. I was dead wrong. It is very rare that a group of gay males walk across the yard and not be stared, at the least. Why is this? There is really no simple answer.
Something I find interesting is that it is almost always male homosexuals being harassed by other males. This is because of the immense amount of pressure put on young Black men to portray this hyper-masculine image, and many feel the best way to do this is by gay bashing. This warped sense of manhood is extremely dangerous because it not only promotes homophobia but it forces some to hide their sexuality.
I find it ironic that many of the same guys who sit on the yard and yell homophobic slurs have been or have expressed interest in being involved with other males. This may seem crazy but it is true. I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing more unstable than a Black man who is insecure with his sexuality. They have all of this pressure to be "hard" and at the same time they desire men-something they feel goes completely against masculinity. As a result, many of them try to distance themselves from their feelings by making people think they are extremely homophobic and they express it every chance they get.
Of course, not all of the harassers are secretly gay. Sometimes their actions are because they simply refuse to grow up. Many of these young men still have a high school minds. They still feel like fitting in and being the center of attention are the most important things. These are the same people who pull fire alarms and set dorm fires-all to impress their friends.
With the lack of positive role models that we as Black male youth have, it is no surprise that all of this takes place. But it is important to remember that being a man is not about sexual orientation. It is about taking care of business, having dignity and being brave enough to be yourself.
Homophobia is not limited to students. There are several teachers on campus who are very open about their intolerance of gays. They talk about it in class, never stopping to think that there may be homosexuals in the room. Many of them still live in the past and are afraid of change. They need to realize that nothing has ever stayed the same and that hate speech is not OK.
I understand that people have opposing views. That is a part of life. What I can’t understand is why people can’t agree to disagree and realize that everyone has a right to live life in their own way as long as they aren’t hurting anyone. If you are homophobic – however ignorant I think it is – that it your business. However, you have to remember that just because you don’t agree with a person’s lifestyle doesn’t mean you don’t have to respect him or her as a human being.
Terry Young Jr. is a sophomore political science major from Arcadia.