[oasis][columns]

Visible With the Naked Eye

By Ryan L. Sievers
February 1996

October 11, 1995 was an important day for many thousands of people across America. That date each year is National Coming Out Day. The people who mark the day of October 11 on their calendars are no longer solely of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. People who are allied heterosexuals, parents, friends, and advocates of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Americans are also making note of the day of Pride as well. Evidence of a distinct black and white difference between the LGB community and mainstream American society is slowly being erased.

People all across America are beginning to see the positive effects of the work LGB community members have been doing, for the past decade or more, to establish strong and open ties with those in our society who would be willing to irradiate lines of division in our culture. Supporters who are not lesbian, gay, or bisexual become allies and advocates for not only the LGB community, but also for the realization of a truly unified, diverse, and accepting contemporary American society.

Reaching out to tap into the mainstream of American society, LGB people have begun to attain a distinguishing amount of positive visibility. Facing minuscule matters as well as major issues in daily life, LGB people have attained a sense of strengthening. Strength has helped many to remain dedicated and patient in the long and difficult process of overcoming stereotypes, phobias, prejudices, and hatreds. The establishment of celebration days such as National Coming Out Day introduce to all of America the proud and honest truth of the LGB community that is a part of the American culture. The thousands of people who come out on NCOD are no longer people solely of the LGB community, either. Friends, family, allies, and advocates also come out in support of LGB people and the realization of a vast and culturally diverse society.

Trends toward increasing visibility and understanding can be seen in the establishment of basic civil rights for homosexuals in nine American states. Though 41 states remain without even the most basic of civil rights for homosexuals, 18 percent of the country has made commendable progress. Only a few drops of rain are the precursor to a storm. The ideology of acceptance and tolerance was initiated by a small few, eventually it has become a trend (the few drops of rain) and finally, a movement (the storm).

Major corporations in America have also contributed toward the trend of gay understanding. The Walt Disney Corporation has followed through with a policy for the partners of their gay and lesbian employees. NYNEX has also joined the growing list of companies that have extended nondiscriminatory policies to their gay employees. The policies of these companies help those employees involved in relationships that cant be recognized through existing laws.

People of the LGB community and supportive allies also arrange and participate in other events nation wide that promote the visibility and acceptance of homosexuals. The Human Rights Campaign educates people with speakers and spokespeople such as Candace Gingrich (Newt's sister). Gay Pride marches take place in Washington D.C. and other major cities. BGLAD (bisexual, gay, lesbian awareness days) Awareness Weeks on campuses are designed to provide educational experiences for people in an atmosphere of fun, pride, and friendship.

American pop-culture has witnessed an increasing amount of LGB aware concepts and topics being addressed. The entertainment industry that includes plays, movies, and television shows has produced plays such as Jeffrey, and Love! Valour! Compassion! Movies such as Jeffrey, and The Incredibly True Adventure of 2 Girls in Love have also hit the big screen. Television shows such as Friends maintained a lesbian sub-plot theme throughout its first season. Homosexuality has made its way into American life with a positive atmosphere of subtle pride and support.

The fashion industry, on both a national and international level, has been rocked and dominated by fashion gurus that are either gay themselves or appeal to an equally homosexual and heterosexual customer base. Designers such as Calvin Klein and Gianni Versace have reached instant-name-recognition status among both hetero and homosexual customers. Ad campaigns for these ultra-contemporary fashion designers clothing lines employ the talents of artists who also identify with the LGB community. Tom Bianchi and Herb Ritts have produce very provocative, artistic, and stylistic ads. The ads are very pro male-to-male and female-to-female.

Bianchi, Ritts, and other artists such as Bruce Weber and David Morgan have revolutionized not only advertisements (at the whim of the designers), but have also helped to change attitudes and style in artwork. Photographic art-books of the male and female form in the nude have been evolved and are presented a stark medium of black and white. The new art style presents the human form in a very proud and pure nature. Not only have the artists changed the art style, but they have been effective in helping to evolve attitudes about the subject. The subject matter of the photographs are posed in natural human forms that are representational of true life.

The availability of resources and resource centers to LGB people and allies has increased significantly. Helpful resources include everything from magazines such as the Advocate and OUT to resource centers on college campuses such as the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Alliance at Iowa State University. Resources are even available on the Internet and the World Wide Web. The page you are reading now for example, Oasis.

The need for basic civil rights and unbiased acceptance into mainstream American culture is a basic goal that has provided the drive for LGB people to work to bring forward the truth about themselves. Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals are humans that are equally as capable of living full, productive, and adventurous lives as any other person on our shared world. To be denied simple securities and comforts in life as a result of differing from a standardized human norm is not a circumstance that should have to be endured by anyone in our society.

Sexual orientation is an important but minor part of everyone's personality. A person's character is made up of many attributes. Not one attribute is more important than another. The judgment of a person based on a single quality is what LGB people are trying to prevent. All people must be seen as an entire person, not a color, sexuality, or gender, etc.

Through work, patience, and a drive for equality, LGB people have initiated a trend toward being more visible and justly accepted into the leading avenues of contemporary American society. And receiving due recognition as being a valid and essential component of American culture. LGB people have strengthened and remained dedicated and patient in the long and difficult process of overcoming stereotypes, phobias, prejudices, and hatreds. The beginnings of a stable and secure future for LGB people and supporting allies is now coming out from the background and into the all-encompassing light of Americas most influential social customs, beliefs, and attitudes.


Ryan L. Sievers, 18, is a freshman at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. Sievers can be reached online at ryguy@iastate.edu.
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