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Is "Conservative Coming Out Week" such a big deal?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | APRIL 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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No

The controversy surrounding the UI College Republicans' "Conservative Coming Out Week" is blown out of proportion at best and being used as a political divider at worst.

Let me preface by saying that discrimination against people of same-sex orientation is not something to be taken lightly. Although there has been great progress made in the last few decades regarding acceptance of LGBT culture, more must be done to affect society at large.

Certainly there are political differences between left-wing Democrats who support gay rights and social-conservative Republicans who are religious and adhere to the teachings of their faith.

But this is not what Conservative Coming Out Week is about. The College Republicans members are trying to open a dialogue about what it is like to be conservative in a hyper-liberal community — much less a university — and relate that to the idea of "coming out." 

The term, by the way, is not exclusive to LGBT culture. The idea behind the term "coming out" is that people with different ideologies, backgrounds, or traits can reveal their true selves to mainstream society and encourage diversity. From debutantes making their way into adult womanhood to alcoholics accepting that they have a disease and asking for help to atheists who reveal their lack of faith under the threat of ridicule or death, this term is widely used with no malicious intent.

As a conservative-libertarian individual, I have experienced this myself. There have been many instances in just my first year here in Iowa City where I've felt threatened to not express a right-leaning point of view, whether it is in class, in the workplace, or in social situations.

Whether there is any intent to intimidate is not the issue — that there is an aura of deterrence of conservative thought should be the focus. 

In a college town, all points of view are supposed to be encouraged in the free flow of ideas.

You would think that the LGBT community would understand this and be willing to have a civil dialogue with campus conservatives.

— Joe Schueller

Yes

I told my family I was a liberal last year on a trip to visit my Tea Partying grandfather in Arkansas.

No one cared — there were no lectures or long-winded battles; no one shunned me from the family; no one really cared because it didn't mean anything.

People have disliked me because I am a liberal, but it never amounted to anything more than hurt feelings. If you want to say, "Jump off the a** wagon," or "Don't be afraid to dump your jacka** roots," it's not that big of a deal because we can all laugh it off and get drunk at Easter.

But in this country, individuals are killed because they come out as being homosexual. They are targeted.

In 2010, 1,470 people were targeted because of their sexual orientation. Of these, 57.9 percent were classified as anti-male homosexual bias. The FBI doesn't even have a category for offenses because of political biases.

That's because expressing an opinion and expressing an identity are two completely different things. They are in two totally separate categories, and to use one category to satirize the other is extremely offensive — the conservatives on campus are just going to have to accept that.

Imagine if the conservatives on campus, instead of calling it "Coming Out Week," said "Running away from the plantation" week. That would be offensive to African Americans, and everyone would understand because individuals are persecuted because of their race every day.

Homosexuals are persecuted every day — sometimes to the point of verbal and physical abuse. We don't hear about it, we don't talk about it, but it's there in the background haunting us.

People encourage you to be politically conservative or politically liberal because the U.S. culture encourages ideas. You cannot encourage someone to be homosexual just like you can't encourage someone to be African American.

You aren't born a liberal, and you aren't born a conservative. You are born a certain race, and you are born with a certain sexual orientation. College Republicans: You are an embarrassment to the UI community.

— Benjamin Evans


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