Andrews will not have died in vain


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Marcellus Andrews was brutally beaten to death on Aug. 19 in Waterloo.

Let this remind us of the uphill battle we still face here in Iowa. Whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or straight — we all have the responsibility to act when we see such a violation of human rights. I can proudly say I am a straight college student up for equal rights for all and a member of the NOH8 campaign.

We must be conscience of our actions and language. The word “faggot” was heard repeated times while a group of teens beat Marcellus to death. While we may not always use this term with the intent to harm others, the word itself inherently implies violence and hatred.

One Iowa Executive Director Troy Price released the following statement on Aug. 23:

“We are deeply saddened by the brutal and tragic death of Marcellus. This is just not something that happens in Iowa and we are appalled at this level of extreme violence and intolerance. Tragedies like this underscore the incredible need to talk about issues affecting gay and lesbian Iowans and to fight for equality in our communities. When community, state, and national leaders ridicule and deride gay and lesbians, it creates a hurtful environment and gives license to this sort of attack. Most importantly, it harms lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people by sending the message that they are not equal. We can and must do better, because we can never, ever allow an attack like this to take place in Iowa again.”

I belong to a community of students here at the University of Iowa, not a group of straights and a group of LGBT students. We are all one community, and let this be a lesson to all of us to stick together and continue to care for each other for who we are, not whom we love. I am proud to show my support for equal treatment (not only in the eyes of the state of Iowa, but in daily life through actions and lack of prejudices) for all people by wearing my NOH8 bracelet everywhere I go.

I admit, at times I’ve felt uncomfortable displaying the bracelet for all to see, fearing I would be judged and labeled as gay. But after working for Organizing for America this past summer, I came to the realizations that A) Although I am straight, being called gay is nothing about which to be ashamed. I should neither be embarrassed nor angry about being recognized as possibly a gay man, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. And B) It is no one’s business to judge me, especially based on my outward appearance. If someone feels the need to call me gay because of the bracelet I wear and the friends I have, I will let them. Nothing I do will stop them from labeling me.

However, it is not alright for me to stand by and allow people to treat me or others any different because of our sexual orientations. I will let them judge me, but I will not let their bigotry interfere with my daily life or the lives of my friends.

It is easy to promise to stand up if you see an injustice happen to another person in front of you. However, it is not easy to take a stand when people use harmful slurs in casual conversation or when people talk about people behind their backs. I promise to never allow others around me to discriminate with their actions or language without standing up for the oppressed. I am proud to be a leader in my new home of Iowa City.

I never knew Marcellus, but I am confident that he would not want his brutal murder to have happened in vain. Let’s all take a stand and stop the senseless harassment that exists everywhere. I challenge you to pledge your support of equal treatment for all people. I challenge you to not allow harassment and discrimination to continue in your presence. I challenge you to take a stand.


Will Reasoner is a freshman at the University of Iowa.

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