The absurdity of a ‘gay lifestyle’ and a ‘gay agenda’ took center stage on Tuesday, Feb. 12 at the Night Owl Café, with a TED Talks event starring LZ Granderson. The Keene State College Pride club held a panel directly after.
LZ Granderson, an American journalist and sports commentator for CNN and ESPN, is an active voice in the gay and lesbian community. In 2009, Granderson won the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism. Granderson began his presentation acknowledging the presence of hate and anger surrounding the ‘gay lifestyle’ when he said there is, “A lot of frustration, a lot of fear about who I was and the gay lifestyle.” Granderson said when he realized this hate, he wanted to figure out what it was that he was doing to create this anger among so many people and to stop it. Granderson used a humorous technique throughout his talk. “I figured if I made it funny you wouldn’t be as threatened,” Granderson explained.
Members of the KSC Pride club, KSC Residence Director Aaron Escobedo, and the Monadnock Region’s AIDS Services Executive Director Susan MacNeil all shared their thoughts and experiences after the showing of Granderson’s presentation.
Senior and KSC Pride treasurer Bryt Randlett said, “Keene is probably the most loving community that I’ve met as far as LGBT communities.”
Randlett later added that Pride was the first place where she could state her sexual orientation and not be judged.
Randlett said, “I said ‘bisexual’, and for the first time I didn’t hear, ‘So you’re just the drunk girl who makes out with everyone, right?’”
Even though KSC has a great amount of acceptance, Escobedo shared, “I hear a lot of really negative language in my residence halls and across campus,” Escobedo went on to say, “I think we have a lot of work to do.”
Junior and Pride Vice President Julia Rasku said, “I feel better about myself because I’ve had this community to support me in my own growth.”
In his presentation, Granderson stated in most states, you can be kicked out of your apartment or fired from your job just for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
“There is no protection from discrimination of LGBT people,” Granderson said.
Although this is not an issue in New Hampshire, according to MacNeil we have our own national issues to worry about.
New Hampshire’s Army National Guard Chief warrant officer Charlie Morgan died on Feb. 10. Morgan’s wife did not receive the same survivor benefits as other individuals because her wife was homosexual.
Reflecting on this issue MacNeil addressed the LGBT community and said, “You guys have no idea how important you are. You have no idea how important you are to the equality battle, and believe me when I say it’s a battle.”
MacNeil also pointed out the success that New Hampshire has had with the gay rights movement, bringing up passing the right for gay marriage.
“Having lived for two years with the marriage equality movement and then success? I mean we were stunned, we were sobbing in our seats,” MacNeil said. Randlett commented on her future children, “I want them to be as happy as I am right now, finding a community that has made me this comfortable for them to experience everything and never be held back.”
Granderson said, “This story just keeps playing over and over and over again in our country’s history.” He went on to explain, “There was a time in which people who were black didn’t have the same rights, people who happened to be women didn’t have the same rights, couldn’t vote. There was a point in our history in which if you were considered disabled, employers could fire you.” MacNeil ended the panel by inviting everyone to Light the Way to Justice on March 25 in Central Square.
“It’s based on the fact that the Supreme Court on March 26 and 27 is hearing arguments about overturning DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8,” MacNeil said.
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