By Clarice Pranger

Special to The Denisonian

For those born heterosexual, it is difficult to imagine living a lie, but millions of Americans do it every day. Living with the knowledge that they are different but doing everything in their power to convince themselves and those around them otherwise because they’re terrified that if they live their truth, no one will accept them. Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, etc. community go through this fear on a daily basis, trapped in a mythical closet of very real social stigma.

The struggle for equality before the law is a long and arduous process that takes decades, perhaps even centuries. The case is no different for the LGBT community, for it is easy to see American society has not been the most receptive of this newest civil rights movement.

According to the Pew Research Center, 92% of LGBT people surveyed said that society is much more accepting than it was a decade ago, but 39% of those said that they had also been rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Great strides have been made in sexual orientation equality, but America clearly has a ways to go before true equality is achieved.

With this fight for basic rights, recognition and privileges like marriage equality and adoption rights, it is great to see organizations like Outlook helping to foster a better environment of change and acceptance.

The events they plan around the year, and especially during Coming Out Week, remind everyone on campus that intolerance, hate and fear beget only themselves. They also reinforce a community that does not alienate, but encourages those that are in difficult family situations to embrace all parts of who they are. For once they realize they cannot be degraded for something over which they have no control, other’s attempts at degradations become less and less effective.

There will be a time when it is a widely-accepted truth that love is not something that can be dictated by any religion, philosophy, or government. That it does not abide by any rules, nor can it be wrong, it simply manifests in gorgeous, sporadic outbursts where and when it will. That time will come, but it will only be made possible by organizations like Outlook and those willing to work with them for a future of acceptance.

Times change only as the people who define them change, so if tolerance is to become the law of the land, it must first become the will of the people. And if that is already the will of the people, it is time to stand up, speak up, go forth and live their truth.