Before I came to Bucknell University I had never met someone who was homosexual, or even bisexual. However, I was very accustomed to hearing gay slurs in my everyday life. I went to an all boys school named Christian Brothers Academy. When other high schools in the area talked about us, they referred to us as “CB-GAY”. When they cheered against us in sports games, they intended to insult us with this phrase and even some more graphic phrases. I never really cared much about what these other schools said about us. I wasn’t paying attention to how hurtful this could be to other people. To be completely honest, the word “fag” was even included in my vocabulary on an infrequent basis. My friends around me, along with these other schools, made it seem like these slurs were just jokes. Everything changed when I went to college.
Being a big Office fan, here is a clip of Michael’s extreme ignorance and insensitivity towards Oscar, his gay employee:
I came to Bucknell earlier than the rest of the student body for preseason. On the first day of preseason I sat with all of the other freshman soccer players for lunch. The topic of girlfriends came up in the conversation. We went around the table to see who had girlfriends. When the question reached freshman, Jesse Klug, he responded, “I have a boyfriend”. The entire table erupted in laughter. When the laughter died down he said, “No, guys I am completely serious”. I was so embarrassed for laughing, as well as the rest of the freshman class.
Let’s fast forward to the present. I can honestly say this experience changed my life. I’ve completely eliminated “fag” and other gay slurs from my vocabulary. Over the past three years, Jesse has opened my eyes to see how hurtful these slurs can really be. Jesse deals with these comments on a daily basis from thousands of people. Other teams attempt to get in his head on the field with these slurs. I wish people could have the experience that changed my life forever. Jesse has made me a better person. He is one of the strongest people I know and I’m glad that he is one of my best friends.
I challenge each and everyone of you to put into perspective how sexual orientation insensitivity can impact lives. Next time when you are calling your friend a name or trying to make a sexual orientation joke, think about what you are saying and how it will affect others. Take a minute and make a conscious effort to be mindful of other’s choices and feelings. Removing these terms from our vocabulary will allow the LGBT community to be completely comfortable and confident on a day to day basis.