Let me start off this article by saying that yes, I am technically an “ally”. Yes, I believe everyone has the right to love whomever they choose (man, woman, transgender, honestly whatever your heart desires). Yes, some of my closest friends are gay. However, I don’t believe I deserve a gold star for being accepting of the people around me. If we’re giving out gold stars, shouldn’t they go to the people who actually experience “coming out”, at BC, first-hand? Isn’t this where the true insights lie—within the gay community itself?
At first, I thought that maybe I was overreacting in labeling the UGBC video, “Coming Out: An Ally’s Perspective,” offensive. I thought that maybe I was an over-sensitive product of my liberal environment. I hail from Providence, Rhode Island…for those of you who aren’t familiar with this miniscule city (probably most of you)—it has been labeled one of “America’s Top Ten Cities for Hipsters”. So, for me, being an “ally” has never been something I’ve had to come forth and state or acknowledge. I assumed we were all “allies”, and there was a level of unspoken respect amongst us.
In coming to college, I was definitely confronted with a larger group of people with inevitably varying views on issues regarding the GLBTQ community. However, being surrounded by this diverse group of people has made me realize that I’m not overreacting, at all. In truth, my response was shared by many of my peers. It has become clear to me that this isn’t an issue that can be blamed on your background—whether you come from Providence, Rhode Island or Fargo, North Dakota is actually irrelevant. These are issues based on fundamental human respect and rights. LGBT issues are being universally acknowledged and addressed—in some great, progressive ways and some not so great ways. UGBC’s approach to “changing the campus culture in regards to GLBTQ issues” just happens to fall on the not so great side.
My main issue with this video is obvious from the title itself— “Coming out: An Ally’s Perspective”. I thought I’d misread that little four-letter word, “ally”. What, exactly, is the value in showing an “ally’s” perspective? I was already extremely skeptical about this approach.
It is no secret that the BC’s GLBTQ community is actively trying to change the campus culture and tackle an abundance of issues. Yet, many students are uncomfortable discussing these issues—making progress difficult. So, when I first watched the video, I was hopeful that it would increase general awareness and openness within the BC community. In fact, during the first few minutes of the video, I thought that one male student was “coming out” to another male student. However, a few moments later, I realized that the video is actually showing one “ally” coming out to another “ally”. I was at a loss for words (this is quite a rare occurrence). The scene confirmed all of my concerns, and the rest of the video only got worse.
The very notion of “coming out as an ally” seems completely ridiculous to me. Why is it that we have to “come out” as allies, at all? The goal of this video is to encourage people to show their support for their GLBTQ peers. However, in making it into a whole “coming out” process they are associating a certain stigma or social faux paus with being an “ally””—which is an extremely discouraging representation of what should be a positive role. How is the student body supposed to feel more comfortable supporting their peers when this support is portrayed as such an alienating process that is comparable to “coming out” itself?
As I said before, we shouldn’t have to “come out” as allies. We should just be allies. You can show your support through various actions and initiatives on campus— but there is no need to “come out” and announce your support. It should be obvious.
Additionally, this video seems to marginalize the actual “coming out” process. It makes you wonder—what is this video actually about? The struggle of being an “ally”, or the struggle of “coming out” and being a part of the GLBTQ community at BC? I think UGBC was aiming for the latter but they accomplished the former. The video makes no mention of any actual GLBTQ issues on campus, and it offers no first-hand perspectives on these issues. The “bravery” in this video supposedly lies in all of the allies, and their ability to come forward and express their support. Shouldn’t we be emphasizing the bravery of those who are actually coming out as gay? UGBC seems to be sidelining anyone who has a personal story to tell in order to applaud themselves for being “supportive”.
The fact that video is about GLBTQ issues and yet it doesn’t feature a single member of the GLBTQ community is incomprehensible to me.
I’m Sameet and yes…I am an ally. But, I say, in order to get to the root of these campus-wide issues, we must focus more on the struggles and stories of Coming Out: An Ally’s Perspective at BC, and less on the valor of our so-called “support.”