The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Homophobic insensitivity leads to student death

A few weeks ago, a 19-year-old boy named Zach Harrington went to a city council meeting in his hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, in which a resolution was passed recognizing the city’s LGBT community. Harrington, who was gay, had to endure three hours of debate over the resolution, during which time homophobes spewed awful rhetoric and made it clear that, in their eyes, people like Harrington aren’t welcome in their city. A week later, Harrington killed himself.

   

This was not an isolated incident. According to Slate Magazine, this was the sixth suicide by a gay teenager in four months. Six. In four months. One of them, Seth Walsh, was 13 years old.

   

What kind of country are we living in?

  

  What kind of country are we living in when a young man can feel so hopeless as to end his life when it is just beginning?

   

What kind of country are we living in when bigots feel free to express prejudice and hate with such abandon?

   

What kind of country are we living in when so many people, young and old, feel they should be ashamed of who they are and hide part of their identity?

   

We choose the world we want to inhabit. We have created a culture in which the word “gay” is a synonym for “lame” or “stupid.” We have created a culture in which gay couples are denied the same basic rights as straight ones. We have created a culture in which openly gay patriots cannot serve alongside straight ones to protect their country. In which, in many states, gay people cannot adopt children. In which a religion that teaches us to love our brothers and sisters has been perverted into a tool of hatred and exclusion. In which six young people can kill themselves and still all these things are true.

   

It’s time to change. It’s time to stand up and say we will not let this happen here. It’s the bigots and the homophobes who should feel ashamed and excluded, not the gay men and women they seek to destroy.

   

The next time you hear someone use the word “gay” in a derogatory way, tell them their hate will not win out.

   

The next time you see a gay person treated badly, stand by his side.

  

  The next time a politician gets on an anti-gay soapbox in the hopes of winning votes, make it clear that she won’t be representing you much longer.

   

The next time there’s a measure on your ballot to deny equal rights to gay couples, send a resounding message that in America, we believe in liberty and justice for all.

 

   We choose the world we want inhabit. I choose a world of hope and love and equality. I hope you’ll join me.

Nathaniel French is a senior theater major. He can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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