It’s 2 a.m., a Thursday night (approximately two weeks ago): I’m pulling an all-nighter, and let me tell you, it is rough, three long assignments, and as the night progresses, so does the cabin fever. I eventually decide to take a break and head out on campus for a quick breather, to walk around and cool off from all the work I had done and still needed to do.
I ventured out, but had to return soon after — at the end, almost run — to my apartment because three guys confronted me, calling me things like “fag” and “c**ksucker.” They followed me as I kept my head down trying to avoid any hazardous escalation.
This hasn’t been my first experience.
That night, I didn’t go to the SMU PD — I’ve gone to them once before, filing a report of harassment a few semesters ago, but was left with nothing (an interview I later did for The Daily Campus gave me insight as to why, which only made me realize how alone I was even when it came to our law enforcement).
But maybe it was my fault; as some people have told me, perhaps I’m the one to blame. After all, it was late: “You shouldn’t have been out there at that hour.” Or maybe it was the way I dressed (whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., this boy will look cute and on point): “You shouldn’t have been dressed the way you were, you should have looked more ‘normal.’” And unfortunately, let’s not forget, I was alone: “Why would you go out by yourself? That’s taking unnecessary risks.”
One word: Ugh.
Let me break it down. Not only did I have this experience, but also once I decided to talk about it, some people actually thought it was a good idea to respond with victim-blaming dialogue that totally erased the perpetrators and their actions.
With all this in mind, I dare to posit: this campus isn’t LGBTQ friendly. Despite some of its progressive policies and current resources, I don’t necessarily feel safe on campus.
I can’t count all the times I’ve heard “dudebros” throwing around homophobic and transphobic slurs; the dirty side glances I get when I’m strutting down the hall; or even the friends I’ve lost because of my often-flaming queerness.
Don’t get me twisted, this campus has some great resources, places I think of as home — principally the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and the Women’s Center (which by the way, from what I’ve seen, needs to be better supported by students and especially administration).
These have become safe havens from the discrimination I get at home or from my community — but yet, I still don’t feel safe. I’m constantly watching my back. Am I too “gay” today? Am I blending in? Do I look hetero enough? Cis-male enough?
Why does it seem that I can only have these two places? Why can’t I shake off the feeling of being unaccepted almost everywhere else I’ve been? Despite where I go, I can never seem to escape that specter of heterosexism/normativity. How can I be expected to live on campus, to study and work, when I’m on constant vigil for homophobic violence?
This past week, I was looking forward to the LGBT-seat referendum, but as we all know, the referendum failed. Receiving 59 percent of the required two-thirds vote it needed to pass.
We have failed to support our LGBTQ communities. To those who voted against it, or were simply too apathetic to do so, you should be ashamed — I don’t think that the referendum failed, but more so that you failed to acknowledge our humanity and voices to only maintain your bigotry.
It’s very simple: It’s vital to have a legitimate space within the governing student body that will consciously focus on experiences such as mine, as well as other issues concerning the LGBTQ communities at SMU. I don’t care how many friends accept me, or how many allies are on the faculty and staff, until there is actual representation within the very political structure of campus, we will forever be prevented from creating a progressive and inclusive environment for gender and sexual minorities.
We have so much work to do; so much that we as a student body need to expiate.
There needs to be a clear recourse for students to report discrimination and protect themselves from violence, a way in which they can address the bigotry they face on a daily level — and this LGBT seat is a crucial step in the right direction for us to directly engage with the social and political faults of our student culture.
How many people have been harassed on campus? How many ridiculed? How many exploited?
That night, those guys scared me to the point that I couldn’t work any further; I was consumed with the fear they invoked, the realization that, no matter how strong I thought myself to be, dudebros like them could always make me feel “less-than”—and that SMU, in its various facets, ultimately can’t seem to do anything about it.
I think it’s time we called out the BS. It’s time to stop the homophobic bigotry. I’m an SMU mustang. “Every mustang will be valued.” When will it be our turn?