Being a friend, becoming a proud LGBT ally October 20th, 2011
I was sitting in the Pride Center today, thinking about my first personal experience with LGBT* identities. I was in high school and one of my close friends came out to me as gay. He said I was the second or third person he opened up to about his sexuality. I realized that his coming out to me showed a great deal about his trust in me as a friend and a person. I didn’t know the term for it then, but this was my first experience of discovering what it means to be an ally.
Before this experience, I had never (knowingly) been around anyone from the LGBT community. I was raised in a very sheltered setting, not very aware of personal differences. I remained extremely naïve as a child, even as late as high school. I don’t remember knowing about people being gay or that they were around me. I just thought “people were people.” I was raised in a heavily Protestant family. I was taught that being gay was a choice and that it was bad. I learned that, according to the Bible, God didn’t agree with people who are attracted to the same sex. Realizing that one of my close friends is gay helped me make some personal decisions of what is true for me.
Surprisingly enough, my relationship with my friend was not at all negatively affected by his coming out. In fact, I think our friendship actually became stronger. I knew he trusted me and I was able to support him in his coming out to others when he was ready. I still saw him as the same person, because he is the same; the difference is that I now know him more completely. The fact that he is gay doesn’t change his personality or the friendship we have between us. Unlike some TV shows, I was not, all of a sudden, worried that he was attracted to me just because he is gay. He helped me understand that, for him, it wasn’t a choice. His sexuality was something he had been struggling to understand and share for quite a while. I am glad he chose to confide in me and include me in his coming out process. I am also glad his courage sparked courage in me to learn how I can be a better ally to him and others in the LGBT community.
Since I have been at OSU, I have found that going to the Pride Center events have helped me explore my own thoughts regarding sexuality and the LGBT community. I would like to consider myself a proud ally, and I encourage caring curiosity with regard to what it means to be an ally. I encourage you to check out the Pride Center soon. The Rainbow Continuum student group is another great avenue to learn more. I especially encourage you to check out their fall and spring drag shows, which are quite fun! In fact, their next drag show is at 8 p.m. Oct. 28, in the Memorial Union Ballroom.
Thank you for reading,
Nick Taylor, Community Relations Facilitator
*(lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender)