Conference reshapes thinking

Conference reshapes thinking

by Emili JohnsonStaff Writer

Everyone knows someone who is a part of the LGBT community. This is a known fact in our society where heterosexuality is seen as the norm and anything outside of a relationship between a man and a woman is seen as abnormal. But, this is a very unfair conclusion, considering that our social norms have ostracized many who are homosexual or marked them down as “other” in textbooks and medical research.

I bet you are wondering what point I am attempting to make and where it may be coming from. Well, I, as many of you know, am an active member of the LGBTQA-which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies–organization on campus. Yes, the one with the super long acronym. Since I have joined the group, I have learned more than most would in a lifetime about the LGBT community and some of the social issues that the members of the community face on an everyday basis.

This past weekend, I attended the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transsexual, Allies College Conference at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and it was a wonderful experience. The conference, which is held at a different university in the Midwest every year, is a change for LGBT organizations and communities across the region to come together and not only talk about the LGBT climates on their campus, but also to take various workshops on advocating for the community. I went to workshops focused on what it means to be an ally for the community as well as advocating right here at Simpson.

This is the second conference that I have been to and I will have to say that I have not only learned a great deal about the LGBT community and myself as a person but also as an advocate for those who have been oppressed and looked down upon from all facets of our current American society.

There was an underlying theme to this conference that was different from the one that was on my annual conference T-shirt. The overall theme was “voting for change,” but the theme I got from the conference was simply equality. Every movement that has been a part of American history has had a climate of equality–equal treatment among the races, equal treatment among the sexes and finally, equal treatment among those of various sexual orientations.

It has been my experience that equality is something people do not understand and sometimes even forget. I feel what I got from the conference was the people in the LGBT community are essentially fighting the same fight other movements fought for.

The LGBT community has been striving for years for equality and it is unfortunate that people have had to die gruesome deaths for them. People have had to live lives that do not match who they are on the inside because they are afraid of what people will think or do if they are their true selves.

After experiencing this conference, I feel as if I am closer to the LGBT community. While I do identify myself as a heterosexual woman, I am a person who wants equality for all and I feel that this can only be achieved if people put aside their differences and embrace their similarities. Once that happens, then on all sides of race, sex and sexual orientation can be equal and maybe, finally the goal of so many movements will be achieved.