It’s always funny to look back on myself in my high school years and realize how much of a jerk I was.
I came from Pueblo, Colorado and while my personal experiences say nothing about the town as a whole, there were a lot of things that were acceptable there that I realize now were not only hurtful, but part of a mindset that is hurting human rights. I’m talking about the rampant anti-homosexual mindset that was a big part of a collective mindset in my high school.
I was in one of those high schools that there wasn’t even a second thought to calling people any number of homosexual slurs. It was clear very early that “gay” was an insult, not a thing that a person might be. No one in the school ever came out of the closet because the tone was set from day one that if you were homosexual, something was wrong with you.
The mindset didn’t actually originate at the schools either. I lived on the poorer side of town and even an inkling that you may not be a straight male was almost a surefire way to get beaten up. It started at home, spread to the neighborhoods and spread into schools. It was a well reinforce concept throughout my entire high school experience.
Personally I never had a problem with homosexuality myself, but I lived in my straight male bubble and didn’t really think much of it either way until I reached college. Like most people in a position of privilege I was content to tell anyone who felt like these things were a problem to just deal with it, everyone has trouble in their life. I can honestly say I had never met an openly homosexual person until I came to CSU.
One of the most extraordinary things I’ve found in both CSU, and Colorado as a whole is the amount of tolerance and love shown towards homosexuals and their fight to achieve equal rights. I’ve come to appreciate that these sort of lifestyle choices are no longer an issue that determine how people are seen and treated.
Recently I made two new friends, both of which are openly homosexual and the most striking thing to me was the fact that no one even cared. It wasn’t discussed or hidden, it was just something that they were and no one gave it a second thought.
When you come from a background like I did, little things like this really do confirm for me that people are slowly coming to have a more healthy view on homosexuality. I hesitate to say this is a product of people growing up and experiencing new things as it much as it’s a produce of the fact that it is now looked down upon to discriminate against people based on gender, race or sexual preference.
These showings of empathy and compassion that are so prominent in college towns really do prove to me that things are getting better for all marginalized groups in societies. Its been said for a long time that intolerance cannot live forever, but at some point we’ve had a shift in our society where, not just through the actions of a few people fighting for equal rights, we’ve become a society pushing for equal rights as a whole. It is no longer something we are disconnected from that “isn’t our problem,” it’s something that needs to be addressed for the betterment of our society as a whole.
Over the next ten years I think we’re going to start seeing a huge shift towards giving homosexuals equal rights. As this generation grows up and begins taking power and making decisions, I think our generation is going to make a huge difference in how homosexuality is viewed and how people interact with it. I’m proud to sit in a generation that will act as a vanguard for equality and social justice. It has been a long time coming, but we’re getting there.
Brian Fosdick is a senior JTC major with a minor in political science and enjoys when you send all of his hate mail/love confessions to firstname.lastname@example.org.