The scythe of homophobia

Taylor Rocca, Copy/Web Editor Ω

IMG_20130129_015104I thought 2013 was off to a pretty darn good start here at TRU.

On Jan. 7, Devan C. Tasa indicated TRU was the only university in B.C. to be without an official student- or university-run organization or representation for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer or questioning) students.

Two weeks later, on Jan. 21, Justine Cleghorn reported detailed information about TRUSU’s steps towards finally creating a student collective to represent the LGBTQ community within the students union.

The home run came on Jan. 24 at the TRUSU annual general meeting when the 136 members in attendance voted unanimously for the creation of the LGBTQ collective, as reported by Devan Tasa.

Finally, TRU would have its long-overdue, though better-late-than-never, LGBTQ collective.

In the days that followed, campus felt different. I don’t know if it was just me, or if others felt the same increase in the positive and upbeat vibe around the school, but there was a noticeable change in the mood around TRU.

Unfortunately, mere days after unanimously approving representation for a community long-deserving, I witnessed that community attacked by the carving and shearing raze of the scythe known as homophobia.

My ears and my eyes witnessed this assault and the alienation and pain that it inflicts. What is conveyed is a message of intolerance and hate, a message unfit for the likes of an institution of higher education. My ears and my eyes deliver to me a pain that I know doesn’t compare to the pain felt by those who hurt most as a result of such ignorant actions.

The evidence of this horrific crime was written in the snow.

I left campus late on the evening of Monday, Jan. 28, having just completed production on that week’s edition of The Omega. I walked through a nearly-vacant parking lot where one lonely car sat. As I passed from one side of the car to the other, I was hit by what you see pictured above.

It was a terrible scene. Such a crude word written in the peacefully fallen snow. The juxtaposition was appalling. After photographing the evidence, I quickly erased its existence, hoping I was the only one unfortunate enough to see such a bigoted display.

For some reason, words likes as this are still acceptable within our society. Racial slurs and sexist remarks evoke outcries but homophobic slurs are still thrown around casually without concern., an undertaking of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies, communicates this heinous observation and backs it up with a set of disgusting numbers.

In the seven days since I first found it scribbled along the side of that one lonely car, the word faggot has been tweeted more than 280,000 times world-wide. To break it down a bit, that equates to that single homophobic slur being tweeted nearly 28 times a minute. And that is only on Twitter. What if someone were counting its usage on Facebook, how many times it’s been written in bathroom stalls or even used casually in regular conversation?

Worse yet, we are only talking about one commonly-used homophobic slur.

“No homo,” “so gay” and dyke have been tweeted a combined 195,000 times world-wide in that same span.

This vile group of four phrases and words has been spat in the face of Twitter users 470,000 times over the course of seven days.

These are the four slurs that tracks usage of in the Twitterverse. Combined, they result in 47 homophobic slurs per minute fired out into the world via Twitter alone. That makes for 47 slurs per minute too many and again, we are still only addressing Twitter.

The sad thing about all of this is that some people don’t realize the true impact of their words. Discriminatory and intolerant language inflicts wounds so deep they may never fully heal, regardless of whether the discrimination is racial, sex-based or homophobic.

With the creation of TRU’s LGBTQ collective, our student governance is finally moving forward. I like to believe that means many students on campus were a defining factor in helping to achieve that, whether that be in actively demanding this representation or in the simple, but equally powerful act of dispelling homophobia when it leeches its way onto our campus.

The year 2013 should be a year of celebration for the greater TRU community and most importantly, TRU’s LGBTQ community. Let’s make sure that celebration isn’t cut down by the ignorant scythe of homophobia.