[bit.listserv.gaynet] RIT/Reporter Article

GLP5491%RITVAX.BITNET@MITVMA.MIT.EDU (The Traebor Aragon) (02/11/90)

The following article was printed in the 2 February 1990 issue of REPORTER, a
student-run magazine at RIT (by far our most popular).

I would like to thank Joe Marini for making the full text of the article
available to me, as well as to Laura Laurison for writing it.

The two segments written at the end (by Sandy Adams and Brian Bliss,
respectively) were originally placed in the middle of the article as
grey-boxed inserts.  Just to let you know...

                                                       --- Greg ---

"We are treated like a diseased species just because we are gay.  Because of
our sexual preference, we are mocked, discriminated against, and oppressed."
This third-year student has been the subject of physical and verbal abuse on
campus because he is a homosexual.

It is impossible to speak about American culture without discussing
homosexuality.  This, once-small group is becoming larger and more assertive
to fight against the barriers that deny them the rights they are entitled to.
In fact, most studies conclude that ten percent of our population identifies
themselves as homosexuals.  It is because of this fact that we need to
understand that homosexuality is and always will be a part of our culture.

It has only been in the past 20 years that doctors and psychiatrists have been
getting away from the idea that homosexuality is a mental illness or disorder
whereas it can be treated or prevented.  Being bisexual or homosexual is a
natural variation of sexual conduct.  It is a lifestyle some choose because it
is more fulfilling than heterosexuality, and it goes beyond the sexual part of
a relationship contrary to popular belief.  Why is it that homosexuals and
bisexuals are forced to explain the choices they make throughout their life?
Our culture has stigmatized their sexual orientation to the point where
discrimination occurs, and it is not taken seriously because, to most people,
"they are only Homos."

Legal restrictions, discrimination, and social myths are just a few of the
things that bisexuals and homosexuals face daily. Their lifestyle forces them
to be constantly aware that they bear a stigma, a stigma that can cause them
to lose their jobs, friends, and self-esteem.

"How can they say they are being discriminated against?  They aren't a race
being oppressed," stated an angry student who is very much a part of oppressed
groups on campus.

Discrimination refers to any group being oppressed or unfairly judged on the
basis of a prejudice.  Nowhere does it state that the oppressed group must be
of a certain race or gender.  When certain guaranteed rights are taken away
from someone because of a prejudice, we must stand back and take a look at our
community.  In this case the community is RIT.

Getting a room reservation doesn't seem to be very difficult for most groups
on campus, but for the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Association (BI-GALA) it
seems to be full of hassles and red tape.  BI-GALA had a room reserved since
the beginning of October, but recently received a note from the reservations
department stating they had no right to advertise for a room that they did not
have access to.  The members of BI-GALA produced receipts and paperwork to
prove they were registered in that particular room, but are still being

Advertising seems to be another problem BI-GALA faces when trying to announce
meeting and events.  After months of planning and preparation, Jeans Day was
held on January 23.  BI-GALA spent time and money on posters, flyers and small
news briefs that were to be advertised in many RIT publications.
Unfortunately, only one publication included the announcement, and many of
their posters were ripped down and replaced with rude, graphic posters that
degraded homosexuals.  Again, students ridiculed BI-GALA for lack of

BI-GALA was refused the right to advertise their meetings in designated
display cases in the College Alumni Union because "there was just no room";
however, large portions of the display cases were empty, and included other
groups advertisements.  "I requested room in the display cases since the
beginning of summer," angrily stated Don Mason, member of BI-GALA, "It was not
until the day of the event that we were given permission to post _one_ ad."

"It has taken us six years to change RIT's anti-discrimination clause to
include the rights of bisexuals and homosexuals," commented a member of
BI-GALA.  "We were given some lame excuse about not meeting the printing

These injustices are the reasons why homosexuals cannot live the way they
want.  Many are forced to live a lie because they may be denied a job, their
"friends" may desert them, or they may be expelled from another group in which
they are involved in.  Many live a lie because their loved ones won't
understand.  "It takes us a long time to admit it to ourselves.  Think how
long it would take our family and friends to accept it," stated a fourth-year

Why does the RIT community treat homosexuals with such disrespect?  "RIT is a
very conservative college.  The majority of the students were raised in white,
middle-to-upper class homes in smaller cities.  They are ignorant of the fact
that homosexuality is so widespread," commented Donald Mason, member of

"I think many are scared of the idea of homosexuality because of the
pre-determined social myths: we lust for everybody, we want to convert people
to our way of thinking, we cannot have just one `significant other,' and that
we are demented in some way.  We don't go around trying to convert people and
many of us have a monogamous relationship," commented another fourth-year

One straight RIT student argues, "I don't agree with what they do.  They
shouldn't expect to get much support especially when the majority of the
students don't agree with them."

The question we must ponder is:  Do heterosexuals have the right to judge
others because they do not live the way we WANT them to?  We have the right to
formulate an opinion, but the line must be drawn when we try to take their
rights away.  They aren't asking us to agree with their lifestyle, just to
stop the discrimination and unnecessary verbal abuse.

                                   *  *  *

How would you like to wake up one morning and discover that you are the only
heterosexual person around?  How would you like to go to church and listen to
the minister preach that all heterosexuals are going straight to hell because
it is morally wrong and unnatural?  How would you feel if your family and
friends aren't speaking to you because you are straight?

That is what it's like for someone who is gay.  The feeling of being alone is
constantly clouding your mind.  It's you against the world.

College, for most, is supposed to be fun and a time to grow and become aware
of oneself.  For homosexuals, it can be the worst time of their lives.  As
vice-president of BI-GALA and a black lesbian, I have seen a lot of
discrimination against bisexuals and homosexuals on campus.  Our group was
formed to help students who are trying to "come out" and don't know where to
turn.  It also provides a place for bisexual and gay students who are already
out, to themselves, to be with others who share some of the same feelings.

RIT should be open enough to allow people to be who they are, but,
unfortunately, this is not the case.  Just recently BI-GALA held "Jeans Day."
Our goal was to make the students and faculty members consciously think about
the rights of bisexuals, lesbians, and gays, not to be counted as a statistic
if they wore jeans.  A major complaint of last years "Jeans Day" was that the
advertising was not extensive, yet when we put forth effort to advertise this
year our posters were ripped down and our articles were not published.  A
group who called themselves SAFE (Students Against Fags Everywhere) deemed it
necessary to put a sign up of their own.  This very rude and graphic sign
degraded bisexuals and gays everywhere.  This is just one example of the
discrimination we face, not only by students, but the faculty and the

Just because we are not a group of a certain color, gender or heritage doesn't
mean discrimination does not apply to us.

The next time you feel the urge to make a derogatory comment about bisexuals
or homosexuals, think before you speak.  All we ask is to be treated like
everyone else and to enjoy the same rights and happiness that heterosexuals
enjoy.  After all, we are humans just like everyone else.

        Sandy Adams
        4th-year, Photography]

                                   *  *  *

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
                                                         ---Eleanor Roosevelt

I am a gay white male, age 23.  I am an RIT student, an interpreter for the
deaf, and currently the president of RIT's BI-GALA.

Many of you may be wondering why I am choosing to publicly announce my sexual
orientation in a magazine that will be read by thousands.  My reason is
simple: education.  There are people who believe that homosexuality doesn't
exist at RIT.  Others feel that homosexuality is evil, vile, wrong, unnatural,
and we are all freaks, perverts, and sinners.  There are gays, lesbians and
bisexuals out there who are still suffering, thinking they are alone,
struggling with feelings of shame and guilt because they do not fit the
stereotype they have been told is "normal."  I want all these people to read
this and know that I (and many others like me) am here.

I have been "out of the closet" since October of 1986.  When I began telling
friends and family I received a plethora of responses.  "I already knew, I was
waiting for you to tell me," (sister) "How could you do this to us," (mother)
"I know, I am too," (close friend) "Really, are you setting me up for another
joke?" (another friend).

Many of the people I told asked me how I became gay or if there was something
in my past that caused this to happen.  I simply turn it back into a question:
What caused you to be straight?  I don't believe there was anything that
*caused* me to be gay.  I knew since I was ten or eleven, and I also knew I
had to hide it.  My environment told me that it was wrong, weird, bad, and
completely unacceptable.  So, I hid the fact that I was gay until I was 20.
To avoid persecution, I ridiculed others, made fag jokes and criticized people
for being effeminate.  I put up a front by dating women.  I lived a lie on the
outside, but always knew on the inside that I was, and always will be, gay.

At 20, my life was out of control.  I was very unhappy with every aspect of my
life.  The lies, the shame, the guilt, my unacceptance of myself became too
much, so I decided to be myself.  I quit the ROTC program, told my girlfriend,
friends, and family.

These last three years have been a period of growth for me.  I'm comfortable
with who I am--I'm even proud of myself.  I have decided that I'm not going to
silently sit back and be discriminated against. I am sick and tired of the
oppression of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, especially here at RIT.  I am not
going to passively watch our advertisements get ripped down and replaced with
derogatory posters of us, or with religious tracts condemning us for our
lifestyle.  I'm not going to idly sit back while our room reservations or
magazine/newspaper articles are conveniently lost.  I'm not going to grin and
bear it when an anti-discrimination clause is excluded from RIT publications,
and I certainly won't accept being told that discrimination against gays,
lesbians, and bisexuals doesn't happen at RIT.  I'VE HAD ENOUGH!  I have been
silent too long.

I no longer give my consent to be made to feel inferior.

        Brian Bliss
        BI-GALA president]