Double Standards: A Personal Reflection

March 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Why are there so many double standards???!!! For example, when I was growing up, I was taught that it was never okay for a male to place his hands on a female, but the converse of this statement is not true (or at least emphasized). Another example is how it is okay for females to wear both girls’ clothing and boys’ clothing, but it is generally not acceptable for a male to wear girls’ clothing. Why are these double standards constantly perpetuated in today’s society???

The root of this problem involves gender and society norms created in America. These norms have done nothing but foster fear, hate, intolerance, and no liberation. They have allowed people to stay within his/her comfort zones and not challenge the norms or think outside the box. Thankfully, America is slowly (but surely) turning a tide towards change, equality, diversity, tolerance, acceptance, and liberation. Today, I see people wear non-gender conforming clothing and most people do not have a problem with this. Today, I see males wearing make-up in public. Today, I see people of the same sex showing public displays of affection.

Unfortunately, this new progressive stage is not accepted or visible everywhere, especially outside the city of Atlanta. In many places, women are still subjugated to being treated as second class citizens. Recently in the news, an openly gay man who intended to run for mayor in a city in Mississippi was found dead in a river, in what authorities described as a homicide. Sometimes when I see the current state of America today, it breaks my heart, but I am that much more motivated to get involved in my community, to create a social change, and to end the double standards that have plagued our society for decades.

– Alfonza L.

LGBT News in Academia: Morehouse Offers new course on LGBTQ history and culture

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

I recently read an article written by Marcus Lee, a second year sociology major at Morehouse College, one of the most prestigious historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in the country. The article read “Morehouse offers LGBTQ course.” My eyes lit up with surprise while my jaw dropped to show my disbelief. My head instantly was filled with questions.

Later on, I saw a news segment on 11 Alive News that explained this story more in depth. This student, being a sociology major, was very observant about the culture of Morehouse and the normal relations between the male students. He noticed that there was much brotherly love amongst the students, but as soon as the issue or topic pertaining to the LGBTQ community arose, the atmosphere quickly shifted from being amiable to uncomfortable. Morehouse does have a history of not being the most inclusive when it comes to homosexuality and gender nonconformity. In 2002 a Morehouse was the center of controversy for a hate crime when a student who was profiled as gay was attacked and beaten by another student. And just last year, Morehouse instituted a new policy that disallowed any student from wearing non-male gender conforming articles of clothing and accessories. I remember discussing this topic with my friends, some who attended Morehouse, to see how they felt about this new policy. It was a bit tricky to reconcile my belief that we should exhibit freedom of expression as United States citizens, but Morehouse is a private institution, and students must sign a contract to adhere to their policies before being formally accepted by the institution. One of my friends jokingly stated “Maybe some of them should transfer to Spelman!”

So Morehouse allowing this course to be taught is MAJOR progress towards acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity of the LGBTQ community.  The course is being taught by an alumnus of the school, who is now a professor at Yale University, via Skype. In other news, Morehouse has a new homosexual-heterosexual alliance/student advocacy organization in existence called Morehouse SafeSpace. I personally have to say that given Morehouse’s history, I am very proud to see these major milestones towards acceptance and inclusivity. Although Georgia Tech has been working to promote acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity of all persons regardless of race, gender, gender-identity, religious preference, political affiliation, and sexual orientation, there has never been an LGBTQ course taught at this institution. I hope that one day Georgia Tech will offer this course, and that this inspirational story will produce a ripple effect to all other colleges and universities across the nation.

– Alfonza L.

2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Annual Celebration – A Reflection of Issues

January 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

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2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Student Celebration

I volunteered to be the Student Chair of the 3rd MLK Student Celebration Annual Student Celebration. I was in charge of recruiting the student performers, emailing the student representatives to participate in the CandleLight Vigil ceremony, editing the program, creating the script, contacting Mr. and Mrs. Georgia Tech, deciding what food to use for the reception, deciding what decorations would best suit this occasion, and act as a “producer” for the event. It was a lot.

I got a chance to hear from student speakers and guest performances, including the Nu Mu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, God’s Influence Flowing Through Every Disciple (G.I.F.T.E.D) gospel choir, my personal friend Shreya Ahuja, and the fabulous Dean Stephanie Ray, who performed a dramatic monologue of Coretta Scott King’s first moments after finding out her husband was assassinated.

What I personally loved most is the inspiring student speakers. There was a common theme in all of the speeches that as a society, America has come a long way in the fight for equality and civil liberties for all, but we still have a long way to go, thus the theme for the event was themed “The Dream and the Journey Continue.” One issue that was mentioned was the inequality and gender discrimination that women still face. Women are still earning 77 cents less than her equal male counterpart. The good news is that our current president is working with Congress to establish legislation that seeks to eliminate gender inequality.

Another issue that was mentioned in one of the student speeches was discrimination based on sexual orientation. While it is still a hot-button issue in today’s society, studies show that more and more Americans are favoring same-sex marriage by small margins. This is due largely in part of more and more LGBT Americans coming out to family and friends and new marriage equality laws being slowly passed in state legislatures.

Of course, poverty is always an issue. Many of us can empathize with low-income, lower-class and middle class families. Poverty may be an issue that may never go away, but I became inspired to help the homeless man on the street corner just by giving him something to eat.

In summary, change does not happen overnight. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? So change for equality will take time as well, but that does not mean that we should sit back and act ambivalent. It was once said, “If you don’t stand for something, then you will fall for anything.” I challenge myself to make my voice heard louder on more issues we as Americans face today, whether it be gender inequality, sexual orientation, poverty, or ambivalence. I just hope that Dr. King himself would be proud of my efforts. Dr. King told his wife “Coretta, don’t tell people that I graduated from Morehouse College. Don’t tell people that I got my Master’s degree from Boston College. Don’t tell people about my Nobel Peace Prize or my various other awards. Instead, tell people that I tried to feed the hungry. Tell people that I tried to clothed the naked. Tell people that I was a drum major for justice, and tell people that I tried to help somebody!!”

– Alfonza L.

Coming Home

March 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

In 2008, legally married Belgians, Peter Meurrens and Laurent Ghilain enlisted the help of a Ukrainian surrogate to have their baby boy. Samuel Ghilain was born in November of 2008 and have been detained in Ukraine for 2 years. Instead of coming home to loving fathers, Samuel spent his first year with a foster family and then his second in an orphanage after his fathers tried to smuggle him out of the country. Facing bureaucratic hurdles, the couple were not able to obtain a passport for Samuel until last week when the Belgian Foreign Ministry had to follow a court’s order to grant the passport. Samuel is now currently living this his two fathers in quiet town in southern France.

The question that comes to mind is how can a child be placed in foster care and then an orphanage when he clearly has two parents who wanted to care for him. The couple commented on homophobia on the part of Belgian and Ukrainian authorities. The story has caused me to wonder, how can one imagine that anyone would think that a child is better off in an orphanage than with parents who love him? It shows how much more work is needed internationally and in America to resolve legal problems and develop policies and understanding that support LGBTQ families.

After everything’s been said and done, there’s only one things left to say:

Welcome home, Samuel.

 

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