LGBT Terps

LGBT students at this university have a host of problems we struggle with due to our sexuality. These issues include coming out to new friends, fearing rejection from those close to you and fighting the daily battle of self-acceptance. We also face troubles beyond the boundaries of sexuality that are universal “college problems.” We worry about our grades, we worry about our friendships and we worry about what party we’re going to this weekend. We have the luxury to worry about a hundred other things that seem like the most important things in the world, but pale in comparison to the problems many who identify as LGBT face every day.

LGBT Russians have a set of problems that none of us can truly understand. The Russian government, openly discriminatory against the LGBT community, recently passed a law known as the LGBT Propaganda Law. It criminalizes any homosexual propaganda, meaning public displays of affection, discourse about LGBT topics or political organizing to push for LGBT rights, which can result in hefty fines and jail time. The Russian government justifies the law by claiming it protects children from being “turned gay” by LGBT activists.

Think that’s it? Pride parades have been banned from Moscow for the next 100 years, LGBT tourists can be detained and deported if caught being openly gay and Russia’s highest court upheld the propaganda law, saying it was, “… necessary to prevent children from being recruited into non-heterosexual society.”

Egypt, where laws that criminalize gay sex are alive and well, has a bad track record with its treatment of LGBT citizens as well. News recently broke from all major Egyptian networks that the government was using social media sites, specifically Facebook and Grindr, to track down LGBT citizens. Officers posed as gay men to “meet up” with unsuspecting gay men to arrest them, and it was reported that at least six men were sentenced to two years in jail for advertising their homes as “gay-friendly” on Facebook.

In response to Egypt tracking down LGBT citizens online, Grindr released a statement on its homepage titled “Speak Safely.” It read, “Egypt is arresting LGBT people, and police may be posing as LGBT on social media to entrap you. Please be careful about arranging meetings with people you don’t know, and be careful about posting anything that might reveal your identity.” We might have our problems and horror stories with social media, but those are trivial in comparison to the pain the Egyptian government is seeking to inflict on its LGBT citizens.

All of our problems are put into perspective when we look at the LGBT community’s struggles throughout the world. That’s not to say we don’t have personal tragedies, inner-demons and tough circumstances to deal with. We still have a long way to go for full equality in our own society. Despite our problems, we can take solace in knowing we have a chance to live happy and authentic lives. We can rest assured that our government and university are taking efforts to protect us. We can defiantly raise our voices for full equality in our nation without fear. We can take advantage of the hard-earned rights we enjoy today while supporting oppressed LGBT people throughout the world because, after all, we’re one big community bonded by similar strife no matter our differences.