I Owe Pride Month My Effort

I Owe Pride Month My Effort

Equality is everyone's issue.
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Pride Month is fiercely important. It requires us to direct attention to the LGBTQIA+ community, a community that deserves attention and action at all times, but so sparingly receives it. Annual parades, marches, and protests allow for a celebration of people, for increased visibility, and for recognition of a history often untold.

For anyone who isn’t part of the community by identity, this month is easy to become detached from. I can say it quite honestly: until high school, I hardly knew that Pride Month existed. I did not know that identifying as anything other than straight was as socially or politically stigmatized as it continues to be.

According to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center, "About four-in-ten (39%) say that at some point in their lives they were rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” When I was 15, my cousin came out to me. Thus far, only myself and one other family know.

I don’t have a voice for the LGBTQIA+ community that is genuinely validated because I do not know the experience of being in it. I cannot speak on their behalf. I do not have to worry about trusting a cousin who, past midnight, might reveal herself to be open to the idea of love that does not involve marrying a man and having his children. I do not have to worry about being rejected by a family member or close friend, rejecting me because of my sexual orientation or gender identity.

American law has taught me that being straight grants a privilege that others do not enjoy. Just two years past the success of making same-sex marriage a national law, the protections provided to transgender students were rescinded. This month commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969, riots for equality that have yet to fully succeed in their aim. Though I may not understand the experience of living as part of that community, it is human to understand that the absence of rights and acceptance experienced by a cousin, friend, or citizen is unjust.

I am not part of the LGBTQIA+ acronym, but as someone on the sidelines, it is very much my job to use my privilege for the benefit of the community. It is my job to educate others, to demonstrate acceptance, and to promote safety. Pride Month is not about me, but it demands my action. It is a chance for me and people like me to show solidarity, support, and strength. This isn’t to say that that effort ends with June. The ability to do this is a permanent one, and this month simply provides a much needed spotlight.

Happy Pride!

Volunteer opportunities can be found with The Ali Forney Center, Hetrick Martin Institute, SAGE, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and LGBT Community Center.

Cover Image Credit: rihaij / Pixabay

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Analyzing The Infamous 'U Up?' Text

Men still haven't come up with anything better.

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Late at night men gain a confidence that no one can quite explain. The dry spell of Monday through Thursday finally ends as Friday approaches and women's phones start going off with the "u up?" text.

The explanation could be that men are doing this just to use you, but if we dig a little deeper and ask why do men suddenly gain the confidence to text women late at night versus during the week or during the day, then maybe we will have a better understanding of the man behind the "u up?" text.

The term "Saturdays are for the boys" has become wildly popular and men have taken it quite literally until all of their boys have left the bars with their girlfriends or other girls and now he is sitting there alone feeling like the only guy who didn't go home with a girl. You pop into his mind, but it's desperate "u up?" text. He isn't texting you to see you because he misses you or because he wants to get to know you better at three A.M.

Men are nervous and don't want to be rejected so once the weekend rolls around and a little liquid confidence hits their system they may feel compelled to finally reach out to you if they have been nervous to do so all week. The "u up?" text may be the first thing his nervous thumbs can type out before he decides it's a bad idea and doesn't send anything at all. If you don't respond he may instantly regret it in the morning when he realizes he may have blown his chances with you for good.

Ultimately any man that decides to send you a "u up?" text should probably not be your first choice to bring home to mom, but you can't be truly sure of his motives until you analyze the situation. Don't judge a book by its cover or a man by his "u up?" text.

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