During my first full day in Holland, Michigan, I met Brenda Crisp, a faculty member at Hope College. We were at the monthly Holland Is Ready and this was her first time attending. She held nothing back.
At Hope College, faculty members have been fired or refused tenure for coming out or speaking out in support of LGBT people. Brenda considered the cost and came anyway. She speaks out to her co-workers, she signed the petition, and she even created beautiful flyers for Hope Is Ready, the student-led group at Hope College.
God is dead.
God remains dead.
And we have killed him.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
I spend at least two out of every seven days believing that there is no God. That we are a profoundly amazing collection of molecules, and cells, and fibers, and electric impulses and that at the end of it all, we turn back into dust. It is absolutely terrifying and still there is something instructive in the finality of that option: this is all there is, what shall we do?
It’s interesting, and perhaps fitting, that while my recent 8 Things I Don’t Need to Hear From Straight People article was making its way around my friend network and the internet in general, one particular straight guy was reacting really poorly to being called out on his straight privilege and hurtful words. His behavior stood in stark contrast to my good friend Carson, who IMed me to say “I really liked your post re unintended counter-productive things that straight people say.” That can be every straight person’s reaction if you’ll choose it.
With Carson, and my countless other fierce straight, cisgender friends in mind, I made a list of awesome things straight folks can do.
Over the years, well-intentioned folks have said a whole host of things that are not helpful and are in fact damaging. If you are a well-intentioned straight person: thank you! I really truly appreciate your good intentions. It is because I appreciate your intentions that I’m composing this post: now you don’t have to accidentally hurt your queer friends. If you want to be a straight ally for gay/queer/LGBT people, here’s how you can get started.
People love to quote Gandhi, especially his advice to “be the change you wish to see.” Maybe because it’s easier to quote him than to actually take his advice. Rather than wax poetic on Gandhi’s (quite substantial) achievements, I want to figure out how I can be the change I wish to see in the world. While in Holland, Michigan working on my documentary project, I got a front row seat to justice in progress. Here’s what I learned on how we can be the change we wish to see.
I have had the unbelievable pleasure and honor of spending the past three weeks with students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community members of Hope College in Holland, MI. It has literally been unbelievable and an experience I trust will stick with me for the remainder of my life.
I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2007 and am proud of my alma mater. I have visited more colleges and universities than I can count and never once thought, “I would have liked to go here.” USC has always been the right choice for me. Until Hope College.