I wonder if people ever think that the lack of discrimination towards lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans people on campus is because of the good work of the LGBT society. Outside of this campus, people of the LGBT community are regularly discriminated against. Michael Causer, 18, was murdered in Liverpool in July of 2008 simply because he was homosexual. Gerry Edwards, 59, was stabbed to death in London at the beginning of this very month in an attack that police are deeming to be homophobic.
Fortunately, our campus is a long way away from this tragedy, and the idea that those things could happen here is unfathomable but it would be ridiculous to suggest “equality has been mostly achieved”, as was claimed in an article on campus recently. Granted, equality has improved vastly since the 1970s, when the LGBT community began to push for civil rights, but we are not yet at a point where everyone can be considered equal enough to disband LGBT and simply place them under the umbrella of welfare.
For many people, university is the first time they can be true to themselves. Perhaps at school or college they never felt they could come out, perhaps they still haven’t come out to their parents; whatever the reasons may be, joining a society aimed purely at integration, community and togetherness is a massive boost to many freshers. If, as was suggested by Jack Knight in his article, LGBT were to be “disbanded and incorporated into welfare”, then the specific interests of a large group of people on campus would be left un-catered for, and crucially their needs not defended.
Discrimination on campus is not unheard of either. Take for example our LGBT society’s social trip to Leeds, and the subsequent abuse they apparently received on their return from members of this very university. Does that sound like acceptable equality? If people cannot be themselves without fear of reprimand, they are not equal. The LGBT community and societies on campuses across the country offer support to people who are regularly made to feel like they are inferior simply because of their sexual orientation. Just look at the the word “poof” and the frequent use of that great old phrase, “that’s so gay”. If you heard those things spoken on a day-to-day basis, would you view yourself as equal?
To borrow, or perhaps steal, an analogy from Ed Crooks who commented online on a Nouse piece regarding the role of the Women’s Society, if you had a herd of sheep that needed constant care and attention to maintain their health, you would not stop caring for them simply because they were currently in excellent health. The article in question hit the nail on the head, perhaps inadvertently, when it said: “Why should the fact that you sleep with Michael rather than Michelle make any difference.” Why indeed? But the fact of the matter is that being a minority is not as easy as you may think.
Look at the world of sports for a good example. Gareth Thomas, the former international Wales and Lions rugby star, has just come out as homosexual following a career dogged by whispers and rumours. Why did Thomas feel he should have to suffer in silence for so long? Contrast his long plight with the LGBT community we see on campus today and ask yourself which is preferable? The one where there is no support network available and people are forced to lead a fake life of secrecy, or the one where there is a group of people, with similar experiences, who are there to lend a helping hand if you need it, who are there to make you feel accepted, who are there to help you to be yourself and who are there to allow you to feel pride. That’s what LGBT is.