Thursday, October 11, 2007

Georgetown Sig Ep Explores Diversity

Where is the love, exactly?
Taylor Barnett

Love: It’s a fascinating, mysterious four-letter word that is life’s greatest complexity. We all pursue it, yet we are constantly bombarded by images that depict a world full of strife and discord. We don’t even have to look far beyond the Healy gates to see such hate, as we did with last month’s hate crime. So I ask myself, “Where exactly is this love?”

I see it in many ways here at Georgetown. I see it with those rallying for social justice in Red Square, with my friends who stand with me through the thick and thin. I see this love with my professors, who as mentors and friends are genuinely interested in my well-being. And I see it too with my brothers of SigEp. While one might wrongly think that I, a Southern, liberal, gay foreign-language geek, have no place in a fraternity, I have found a sense of belonging amongst my brothers that I never knew existed. They, like other genuine people, show the utmost form of love by looking beyond my background and beliefs and appreciating me for my whole person, a man of sound mind and sound body, a leader, a gentleman, a best friend, a brother.

Nevertheless, as an openly gay male in the South, I have experienced hate first-hand as I ran for my life being chased by a guy with a baseball bat, as I cringed at guys calling me “faggot” and “queer” and reciting Leviticus, as I grieved when a friend accused me of sexual harassment and spearheaded a petition to get me expelled from high school and as I took this all to heart and attempted suicide. I look back now and I think to myself: “So, are they right? Am I going to hell after all?” I doubt it, but I haven’t the power to be certain. But I’m not worried, for whether I am to be saved or condemned, I realize that I have this life to live right now, and I shall not waste it in fear and grief. I choose to live and share this life with others based on this principle of pure, unwavering love for my friends, my brothers, my community and myself.

Last month’s hate crime was atrocious, and such violence doesn’t belong here or anywhere else. And as we saw by the colossal turnout at last week’s rally, even in a world full of strife and discord, we recognize, in accordance with Jesuit ideals instilled in all of us, the importance of not only acceptance but also celebration of and love for diversity in our community. I speak of agape, a genuine and human love for our fellow brothers and sisters, and it’s here at Georgetown that I understand exactly what that means.

This brings me to Coming Out Week. For me, the spirit of it encompasses far more than sexual orientation. It’s about how we think of ourselves, how we construct an identity and how we share ourselves with the world. But first we must overcome one thing: fear. The fear of being different, of appearing weak or wrong, of what we fail to understand and even of what we may discover about ourselves. I choose not to see myself solely as male, nor as gay, nor as white, nor as American but simply as human. We must look beyond this bullet-point evaluation and recognize the individual as simply that, an individual. Be we women or men, foreign or native, Republicans or Democrats, gay or straight, rich or poor, Catholics or Protestants, Jewish or Muslim, or even none of the above, we must understand and be proud of what we believe and who we are. We must overcome fear in order to share ourselves and our gifts with others, as it is everyone’s duty to educate others in his or her unique individuality. Life is too short and the price too high to watch our years go by in silence and quiet desperation.

Love. It is the best thing I have ever felt. It is the greatest truth I have ever known. It is what makes me whole, what makes me human and what makes my life complete and worth living. To know that we love and are loved is the most wonderful thing we can ever experience. And I never forget that even in hard times I always can find faith, hope, belonging and understanding in love.

Where is the love, exactly?