Letter to the Editor: Hateful comments on MU’s Pride Photo
The comments ironically prove the necessity of the LGBTQ Resource Center
Oct. 20, 2015
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Oct. 14 was a great day for me. I worked my shift at the LGBTQ Resource Center, where I got to be around many of my fellow friends who identify as LGBTQ. Then to wrap up the day, my boyfriend and I participated in the 20th annual Pride Photo in front of the Columns with all of our friends and the numerous allies that also showed up as well. As a gay man coming from a small rural town in Missouri, I finally felt not only tolerated, but also accepted and embraced. I’m not afraid to hold my boyfriend’s hand on campus and downtown like I would be in my hometown. And for the first time in my life, I felt like I truly belonged somewhere. Then, I made the mistake of looking at the comments on Mizzou’s social media in reaction to the Pride Photo.
Don’t get me wrong, a clear majority was supportive of the picture and also left their comments saying so, and I truly appreciate that. But there were also far too many negative, mean-spirited and downright hateful comments as well. The ones that stuck with me the most were the short, flippant responses such as “So wrong,” “Repent” and “Burn in hell!” I remember many people in my hometown who said many of the same things not only about LGBTQ people in general, but also to me personally. I know many queer people can also relate to these experiences, and how much they had hurt them in the past. To be completely honest, these comments made me feel like I did when I was just coming to terms with my sexuality. I felt horrible with myself, that I was some sort of outcast, and that I did not belong.
I also find it ironic that many of these hateful comments actually go to prove that we DO need a clear presence of an LGBTQ Resource Center and queer students at Mizzou. It shows the need of the many other social justice centers on campus, including the Women’s Center, Multicultural Center, the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center, the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and the numerous student groups that also work toward social justice. Whenever a university student in 2015 feels excluded, hated or discriminated against because of their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religious affiliation, national origin, ability status, status as a relationship/sexual violence survivor or any other criteria in which someone may feel this way is completely unacceptable and the university climate has to change.
So to those of you who did post negative comments about this year’s Pride Photo, I hope you feel good about yourselves. You are part of the reason why queer youth have high rates of depression, drug abuse, homelessness and suicide attempts. We as students of this university do not need your support of Mizzou if this is how you are going to treat its students. And to the university itself, to Chancellor Loftin, to UM System President Tim Wolfe, to the Board of Curators and anyone who has power within the University of Missouri System, you need to know that you have the power to help change this and to shape the way Mizzou will grow as an institution. This means not only standing up for the LGBTQ community on campus when they are attacked on social media, but also standing up for the black students on campus when they are attacked, such as what happened to the Legion of Black Collegians during Homecoming week or what happened to MSA President Payton Head. It means standing up for graduate students when they simply want to be able to have access to health insurance and be able to effectively serve this university without going through unnecessary hardships. It means standing up for women and social work interns when political bullies in Jefferson City say that they want MU to cancel their contracts with Planned Parenthood. It means not only giving lip service to these people, but also doing something to back up those words. Your students desperately need you to act on these key issues; please do something.