Gay students struggle with self-censorship

By By Chris Mumford

By Chris Mumford

Among the many misconceptions dogging members of the U’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the most common might be the least obvious8212;the notion that they agree on everything and face the same problems.

On questions ranging from whether homosexuality is a choice to the legality and desirability of sanctioning gay marriage, a variety of perspectives can be found within the U’s LGBT community.

One of the purposes of the LGBT Resource Center, located in the Union, is to create an environment in which individuals feel free to express opinions that might be stifled elsewhere. The Utah Legislature shot down all of the Common Ground initiatives that would have granted the state’s gay community some of the same benefits as heterosexual couples.

“I think I do very much censor myself,” said James Lancaster, a junior in gender studies and mass communication, who did not state his sexual orientation. “It’s just part of survival.”

Lancaster said he feels like he has only recently begun to come to terms with his true identity, which he has become accustomed to suppressing.

“I don’t know what my behavior would be if I hadn’t grown up in such an oppressive environment,” he said.

Others, however, say they feel perfectly comfortable on campus and that self-censorship isn’t a problem.

Nate Currey, a gay senior in urban planning, said he feels comfortable on campus, but said this might be because of the fact that he came out to his family and friends years ago and has therefore had more time to adjust.

Currey, who comes from a Latter-day Saint background, spoke of accepting his sexuality as a choice, which provoked some disagreement from other students at the center, who felt that sexuality doesn’t involve choice.

“It just seems like a lot of people are trying to make sense of their sexual orientation and their religion,” said Allie Shephard, a bisexual junior in pre-nursing, in attempting to explain how some people in the LGBT community can hold opinions, such as opposing gay marriage, that seem at odds with public assumptions.

Lancaster and Currey both pointed out that disagreements are handled civilly and that students interested in the LGBT Center don’t need to worry about being interrogated about their political views. The differing beliefs found at the center only illustrate the idea that everyone is welcome.

The principle aim, Lancaster said, is to make individuals8212;and particularly newcomers8212;feel safe and comfortable.

“I think it’s just basic things like reading people and asking them how their day has been,” he said.

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