Troy N. Diggs
December 4, 1997
We've had some minor difficulties at ASU since I wrote the last column for Oa-sis.
This semester, a group of us got a gay/lesbian organization on campus recog-nized; it's called "SAL", "Students of Alternative Lifestyles." The week we got sanctioned by the university, we had an article written about us in the ASU news-paper, the Herald.
A couple of weeks later, someone I knew, someone I respected, came out and publicly bashed SAL, saying that he was disappointed that a group was formed "out of sin", how wrong homosexuality was from a religious viewpoint, etc., etc. That's when the chaos started.
The Herald comes out twice a week. The next issue had 2 letters supporting the guy who bashed SAL, followed by a page full of letters supporting SAL in the next issue, and on, and on, and on. The folks at the Herald said that they were putting an end to the letters when Christmas break started, and true to their word, they printed the final letter in the issue for today, which was from our president. You can read the backlash for yourself at <A HREF="http://comm.astate.edu/">The Herald</A> website.
The first thing I think the "gay-bashers" failed to realize in their arguments is that ASU is a state sponsored organization, and therefore, religious beliefs play no part in what the school does. Therefore, if ASU wants to sanction a gay and lesbian or-ganization, it's their business, and if that's not acceptable, there's other public uni-versities out there to go to, although most of them have G/L organizations already.
What bothers me most, though, is that the issue's made me have to rethink my feelings towards some people I thought were my friends. The first letter didn't take such an emotional impact on me, since I casually knew the guy who wrote it. One of the later letters, however, was written by a gal I graduated high school with, and had a lot of respect for.
I can't honestly say I hate her, because I don't. She's entitled to her opinion, and that's that. However, I don't really think we're friends anymore. I've only seen her casually this semester, but you know, if she feels so strongly anti-gay that she's willing to publicly announce it, I don't think I can reconcile that and pretend that I'm something I'm not.
The other emotional impact it's had on me is from someone I've known since kin-dergarten... we were really good friends when we were little, but grew just a little apart as time went on, though we were still friends. Last spring, he denounced me for getting my ear pierced (you might remember that from an earlier column), say-ing that I was going to burn in hell for it. It didn't stop there; last spring, he con-tinuously tried to get me to admit to things that I was wasn't prepared to do for him, and it really made me mad. It takes a LOT to make me mad. We pretty much broke off contact at that point, since I wasn't willing to tell him anything.
When the SAL issue broke out in the paper, he came back and sent me email after email, more or less demanding to know my involvement with SAL, why I think it's OK to be gay and Catholic, what's going to happen if somebody sues ASU because of SAL (which is, in my opinion, the lamest statement I've ever heard in my life), and on and on. In the first email, I politely told him that it wasn't any of his busi-ness. I told him that again after he replied back. It finally got to the point where I was accusing him of harassment (because I made it crystal clear that I didn't want to talk about it to him) and told him to do something to himself that's physically impossible.
It didn't phase him. He's since kept at it, trying to guilt trip me ("I pray to God your mother doesn't know about this") and, more or less, will not shut up about it. I can't delete his email, because I know that he'll just send it again and again until I read it (he has a little problem taking hints, if you hadn't noticed), and it's gotten to the point where I'm about to send mail to ASU's Computer Services asking them to pull his email account.
Some of you out there might be looking for a message in this diatribe, and ladies and gentlemen, here it is: don't be afraid to stand up for yourself. The group of us at SAL here have stood up for ourselves, and because of that, we exist as an official organization. As for the guy, I've done my best to stand up and say that my sexual orientation is my business, and not his, and although he still hasn't gotten that mes-sage yet, I get the feeling he will, one way or the other. Really, I hate that I might have to hurt someone (emotionally) to make that point clear, but if he can't accept me for who I am and what I say, it's not much of a friendship anymore.
Be strong. Have courage. Fight for what you believe in. Wear your rubbers. Happy 1998.
My mailbox may be full of email about game shows and action alerts from the Human Rights Campaign, but that doesn't mean it's too full for a letter from you, and hell, I don't even know you. Drop me a line at TDiggs@aztec.astate.edu, or visit my Web page at http://www.geocities.com/~tdiggs. OK, I love ya, bye bye.