Guest Column:”Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

Jeffrey Geiger

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Every time you meet someone new, that’s what you wonder. If you’re LGBTQ, that is. If you’re LGBTQ, you most likely spend some degree of time either outright worrying about – or at the very least unconsciously preparing for – “What If This One Turns Hostile?” There’s no guarantee that someone isn’t going to verbally-or worse, physically-make his or her opinion known.

Luckily, Northwestern is a pretty great place to be gay. We have a vibrant, active, and fairly large LGBTQ community. Sure, we always have room for improvement, but for the most part, Northwestern is a happy place to be out and proud. We’re lucky. We never really have to worry about our safety, and for the most part, Northwestern students are generous and supportive allies.

You can imagine our shock when we found out that someone had ripped up and defaced three of our Rainbow Week flyers. Rainbow Week is Rainbow Alliance’s biggest week, a celebration and affirmation of LGBTQ life and culture.

Defacing our flyers is unequivocally inexcusable and has no place at Northwestern. We have a standard of conduct, and that kind of infantile behavior doesn’t live up to it. That said, it’s not the end of the world. One immature act of vandalism does not represent the mood of this campus.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Northwestern is a terrific place to be gay.

The defaced flyers didn’t make us feel threatened; they made us feel disrespected. The specter of “bad witches” has hung high over our community over the past month, and we did not expect to find that here. We’re not asking for much. All we want is to be treated with dignity and respect, to live our lives openly and without worry.

Here is what we need to happen: remember that always, no matter where you are, there are probably gay people around you, and you should do your best to make us feel welcome. Be an ally, and be open about it. Don’t say “Fag” or “That’s so gay!” and if you hear someone around you say it, gently explain to them why they shouldn’t. Take it upon yourselves to make the world a better place for gay people. One of the hardest parts of being gay is never knowing who is a friend and who isn’t. Do your part to let us know.

For example, if there is a lull in conversation, a good way to fill it would be by saying, “You know, I think gay people are great!” In fact, introduce yourself like that. (Kidding. Kind of. You get the idea.)

Whenever you have the opportunity, make it public that you are our friend. If you respect us and say so, we will notice, and we will not forget it.

We aren’t seething about the flyers, and we aren’t planning on starting a riot. We simply want the behavior to change. To everyone, LGBTQ and allied, every day is another opportunity for you to keep making Northwestern a great place to be gay. Here’s to dropping a house on intolerance and insensitivity.

Stephanie Letzler is a Weinberg senior and Jeffrey Geiger is a Weinberg junior. They are co-presidents of Rainbow Alliance, and they wrote this guest column on behalf of the entire Rainbow Alliance executive board.

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