Come out, stand up, break the silence

President Lincoln said it best when he etched these words. While the context is vastly different now, they ring particularly true today. In Oct., a bright young man at Rutgers University took his life because of two hate-filled, negligent, ill-mannered peers who invaded his privacy and broadcasted to the world that he was G-A-Y. The thought of the world knowing his secret was too much for him to handle. Now an entire nation mourns his loss, and a student body sits wondering what could have been done to prevent a vibrant, talented young man from ending his own life.
Unfortunately, this young man’s story is not unique. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “gay men are six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.” This Oct. alone, there were five cases in which young men took their lives because they were ridiculed for being different. One person is too many; two is astonishing, but five is an abomination. With that said, the part that is most concerning is that this incident could easily have happened anywhere, especially Tech. In the weeks after these unfortunate incidents, I was asked, “Corey, what is Tech going to do about this?” My response was simple, “Turning a blind eye and not speaking out is unacceptable.” After all, silence makes cowards out of men.
In response to the unfortunate events plaguing the LGBT community, SGA is hosting the first-ever Tech United event. Tech United is an initiative developed by SGA’s Vice President of Campus Affairs, Kaitlyn Whiteside. The first of what we hope to be a series of events, Tech United aims to engage the campus in an open dialogue surrounding issues that have not typically been at the forefront of campus discussion and shed light on many issues in the LGBT community that some may be unaware of.
On Dec. 9, the conversation will revolve around LGBT issues on our campus, and we will host one of Tech’s most illustrious alums, Alex Wan. While this event is a phenomenal step in the right direction, the discussion cannot end here. In fact, it is only the beginning. The movement starts with events like this. It ends when every facet of this campus from the student organizations to the Alumni Association recognize that our LGBT community deserves to have an equal seat at the table.
To ensure that nothing like a “Rutger’s Incident” happens on Tech’s campus, we the Tech Community, must stand up and break the long silence. We must come out as allies for our fellow LGBT Jackets. According to the Berkley Center for Gender Equity, “…an ally is someone who supports members of a community other than his or her own.”
Becoming an ally does not mean renouncing one’s faith or turning one’s back on legitimately held beliefs. It simply means breaking the silence and showing support for a community that you do not belong to.
If you are reading this column, you have indeed come in contact with someone who is a part of the LGBT community—whether you are aware of it or not. Now, ask yourself, “Would this person feel comfortable sharing this portion of his or her life with me?” If not, it is time for you to “come out” as an ally.
Imagine if someone at Rutgers, in Cal., in Ind., or in Texas had “come out”. If someone had broken the silence, five families would enter the holiday season with lighter hearts. Five campuses would end the semester with a reason to celebrate. The men and women who remained silent and allowed tragedy to befall the five young men mentioned above are cowards as defined by President Lincoln. In my opinion, they showcase the epitome of cowardice.
Nearly three months after these unfortunate tragedies, Georgia Tech needs to break its silence. At 7 p.m. in the LeCraw auditorium on Dec. 9, we have an opportunity to show our LGBT community that it indeed gets better and that we are here to support them.
Administration, Alumni Association, faculty, staff and students this is my official “coming out”. I challenge each of you to follow suit.


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