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Queer Corner: The Price of Being Queer

Philip Degaltini

It has been argued by many that it is a choice to be queer. That one day someone wakes up and decides that they want to be attracted to the same sex, or that they are were born the wrong gender, or that they no longer want to have a gender. Some openly homosexual individuals have even gone on record to say that they chose to be gay, Cynthia Nixon being one of them.

But the question I ask you to consider is why would someone consciously choose to be subject to hate? Why would someone choose to be denied rights? Why would someone choose to live such a difficult life?

I didn’t choose to be gay. I was beaten up all through elementary and middle school. Why would anyone choose that? You can’t tell me that I decided one day that I wanted to be verbally and physically assaulted by my classmates. That would be crazy.

Of course things have gotten better since I was in middle school. This past summer, marriage equality bills were passed in New York State and just last week in Washington State, the day after Proposition 8 was found to be unconstitutional in California. And as much as these are great achievements, LGBTQ individuals are still struggling against discrimination. There are twenty-nine states in which homosexual individuals can be fired simply for being homosexual. Also, there are thirty-eight states in which you can be fired for being transgender.

It seems ridiculous. We imagine America as a place where we have certain inalienable rights, but not everyone has the same rights. Imagine for a moment if your boss was allowed to fire you because you were left-handed. Then how could anyone be fired for being LGBTQ?

To quote Lady Gaga in her hit “Born This Way,” “No matter gay, straight, or bi, lesbian, transgender life I’m on the right track, baby, I was born to survive.” We don’t choose to be hated or hurt, no one would. At what point does a heterosexual wake up and decide to be heterosexual? When does a turtle wake up and decide to be a turtle? We don’t. No one chooses who he or she is. No one chooses who they love.

Of course, we’re lucky to be in America where we are free to live our lives as peacefully as the government allows. In Uganda, homosexual men and women are considered criminals. A bill has been in the works called the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill; it has also been called the “Kill the Gays Bill” in the media. This bill would allow the government to arrest and possibly execute known homosexuals. A Ugandan newspaper printed names of suspected homosexuals and even included tips on noticing homosexuals in public places.

I hear people say, “We live in 2012, this shouldn’t be happening,” and you’re right. We’ve come a long way in our own country, but we have a long way to go, not only here but also all over the world. Hopefully one day soon the world will catch up with the people living in it.

Recently Ellen Degeneres was hired as the new spokesperson for JC Penney. A group that calls themselves One Million Moms protested her being hired by the popular chain department store. Their Twitter page reads:  “A network of Christian moms and grandmothers taking a stand for our children who are being exploited by the entertainment industry.” They posted on their Facebook page that JC Penney should prepare to lose a lot of business after hiring the openly gay television personality and comedian.

Discrimination and Adversity will always be a problem, but if we stand together and protect each other we can overcome it. We can change their minds, we can change the future, and we can change the world.

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