Kevin Rector, a student at the University of Maryland, writes in an op-ed
about the bigotry of a university physics department staff member, Bill
Norwood, who sent out a mass e-mail to students and faculty who had listed themselves in an ad as "allies" of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. Rector ably disputes Norwood’s prejudices, up to a point. He says:
argued students wishing to "dissociate themselves from AIDS-connected
identities" would feel discriminated against because of this list [of allies]. He
also claimed support for the LGBT community would deprecate the use of
"ex-gay" programs. This is an aggressive and narrow-minded message, no
matter what language. The AIDS epidemic is not limited to gay
populations, and claiming that to escape an AIDS-connected identity one
must separate himself or herself from the LGBT community here on the
campus only isolates and hurts LGBT students.
My identity is not determined by my sexual preference, nor should I
be associated with AIDS because I am gay. To identify yourself as part
of the LGBT community or alliance is not to assume an "AIDS-connected
identity," but Norwood’s language implies this.
When you are gay, finding yourself can sometimes be difficult.
Society says being gay is incorrect while your heart and mind tell you
otherwise. Out of this societal impression come "ex-gay" programs –
programs that look at homosexuality as something that can or cannot be
Norwood wrote that the LGBT organization showed a "lack of
objectivity regarding whether individuals experiencing varying degrees
of same-sex attraction should pursue straight or gay lifestyles."
Being gay is not a game of tag. You are not gay if you pursue the
lifestyle and straight if you do not. Being gay is an internal
experience first. In suggesting that "ex-gay" programs can help people
get rid of same-sex attraction, Norwood suggests being gay is incorrect.
Norwood, the antigay staffer, promotes the religious-right myth that gay and exgay people cannot co-exist. While the student, Rector, defends Norwood’s freedom of speech up to a point, he also seems to reinforce the myth when he suggests it is inappropriate for antigay faculty to express their views via university e-mail.