April 2-15 . 2011 qnotes

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April 2-15 . 2011 qnotes

Coming out allyStraight sister gets a taste of rejectionby Leah Cagle :: leah@goqnotes.comVIEWSI should probably start out with a confession— throughout my youth, my attitudetowards the LGBT community was littlemore than a formulaic result of a traditionalSouthern Baptist upbringing in small townHendersonville, N.C., and a unanimously-dedicatedRepublican family. I subscribed to theseemingly compassionate “hate the sin, lovethe sinner” theology and carried on in life withlittle threat to the conservative bubble I lived in.And then I came to college.When I transferred to the University ofNorth Carolina-Charlotte in spring 2008, IBecoming an allyInterested in becoming a straightally, but unsure of where to start? Here’sa few tips:Get educated :: Take a few minutes toreview recent LGBT history in your area.Read up on literature and research thatcan help you deflect ignorant arguments.Ask your LGBT friends abouttheir current experiences and aboutwhat issues matter most to them.Get prepared :: Harvey Milk once said,“I fully realize that a person who standsfor what I stand for, an activist, a gayactivist, becomes the target or thepotential target for a person who isinsecure, terrified, afraid, or very disturbedwith themselves.” Count the costand prepare yourself for accusationsand questions that are sure to followyour announcement. The attention youreceive from this is a great opportunityto educate!Get loud :: Tell your friends and family.Start the controversial conversations.Whether your loved ones (or not-solovedones) agree with you or not, theywill be forced to recognize someonethat they know as an ally. Hopefully,the conversations wonderful tools forchipping away at the fear-tactics andstereotypes and making way for betterunderstanding.Get involved :: Stay tuned in withqnotes’ event calendar (page 19 and atgoqnotes.com/qguide/events) or volunteerat the Lesbian & Gay CommunityCenter of Charlotte (gaycharlotte.com).Collective effort goes a long way, andwe can use all the help we can get!met a group of people I nowaffectionately call my “choicefamily.” By the fortunate happenstanceof my class schedule,I encountered students ofvarious backgrounds, hometowns,beliefs and — mostinterestingly — sexualities,who quickly grew to becomemy best friends. Needless tosay, after spending time withthese beautiful people andgaining a deeper understandingof their loving relationships, myopinions, theology and heartbegan to change.It wasn’t until last summerthat I found the courage tospeak out. Despite being anintern for a supposedly liberal though un-affirmingand unaccepting campus ministryat UNCC, I could no longer keep my silence.I read every book on ”the Bible and homosexuality”that I could get my hands on andtalked to anyone who would listen. I wasdetermined to break the façade that in orderto be Christian I had to be anti-gay. So, onOct. 11, National Coming Out Day, I took theopportunity to “come out” as a gay ally to allmy friends and family.That’s when the shit hit the fan.After extensive pushback, page-afterpageof concerned Facebook messages,hours of intervention-style conversations andan eventual removal from leadership withinmy church, I had an epiphany — this experiencegranted me my first glance, if only a tinysliver of understanding, of what the comingout experience must be like.This is why it is so crucial for my fellowstraights out there to put away the comfortableheterosexist privilege we enjoy and takea bold stand as an ally to the LGBT community.It’s not enough to believe, we must takeaction and call others to do the same. Onlywhen we get our asses in gear, working forthe advancement of our LGBT brothers andsisters can we begin to fathom the societaland cultural obstacles they are up against.With that understanding, we can finally begin— unified in goal and purpose — to work fora more loving and affirming world. : :April 2-15 . 2011 qnotes

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