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HWY 6 Runs One Way-Aggie No More

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Dear Senators:

I once thought that I was an Aggie. Next year will be my 5th year of study. I am a Presidential Endowed

Scholar. I attended Fish Camp. I went to football games and yelled until my voice was dead and my ass

was red. I joined a FLO. I started two organizations. I received the prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award

for my contributions to this student body. I have made hundreds of friends, touched hundreds of

Aggies’ lives and been touched by thousands more. Yes, I once thought that I was an Aggie.

On April 20th, 2011 the Student Senate made it clear that, in their eyes, I am an Aggie no more.

That day, the student senate told me that I was not worth as much as other Aggies. You told me that

breaking the Aggie Honor Code and lying to my fellow students was preferable to you deciding to

respect me for who I am. On that night, S.B. 63-106, otherwise known as the “Sexual Education Equality

in Funding Bill” in support of Representative Wayne Christian’s amendment to HB 1 passed. And with its

passage, the Student Senate made its position clear: that because I am gay, I am not truly an Aggie.

Now you may be saying to yourself that I’m being overly dramatic, that that was not your intention in

passing that bill, or something else along those lines. Some of you may have stopped reading this letter

as soon as you saw the words “I am gay”. I would expect nothing less from the 17th least friendly

campus for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) students in the country (according to the

Princeton review). If you’re still reading, then allow me to explain why I don’t at all feel like I am being

melodramatic and state my reasons for concluding that the Student Senate no longer views me as an

Aggie:

1. Harming the Texas A&M GLBT Resource Center was the purpose of this bill, not, as the authors

claim, the creating of centers for the purpose of so-called “traditional values education.” This is

made clear in the second operative clause, where the opposition of increased student fees to

cover this new “traditional values education” is set forth. The authors of the bill are not fooling

anyone, since the drastic budget cuts make it clear that no additional government funding is at

all likely for this new “traditional values” education, leaving one clear option: cut the GLBT

Resource Center’s budget in half. This barely concealed attempt to attack the funding of the

biggest support system for GLBT students and their allies on this campus is not just an attack on

some perceived “immoral lifestyle choice” or whatever phrase people might choose to use. It is

a direct attack on Aggies like myself, a clear “shot over the bow”, warning us that we are not

welcome on this campus.

2. The purpose of this bill was not to promote equality of funding for support for all students. If

that were indeed the goal, then allow me to point you to several areas where there is a severe

problem. First of all, why is there a Women’s Resource Center on campus but no Men’s

Resource Center? Applying the same logic that has been applied in the passage of S.B. 63-106, it

is clearly unfair that my student fees, as a male, go toward funding the Women’s Resource

Center, especially if I disagree that women need any special attention. I should demand

equality of funding towards a center that supports me and my needs as a male. Likewise for the

Department of Multicultural Services, because I as a Caucasian Amercian have no need of their

services. Where is my Department of White American Services? Clearly, the student body does

not have a problem offering support to the communities of women and multicultural students

within the Aggie family. Thus, singling out support for GLBT students like me sends a crystal

clear message: “you and people like you are not worthy of our support. Women, multicultural

people, those groups deserve support. You do not.“

3. The assertion that there is not already “traditional values” education related to sex on this

campus is laughable. Anyone who has taken a KINE 198 class can tell you that only heterosexual

examples are given when discussing romantic or sexual interactions and the health guidelines

related to them. And a mandatory class is far more pervasive in educating the students of Texas

A&M than a resource center buried in Cain Hall that never requires people to pass through its

doors. The programming that the center offers is optional for those who wish to attend. There

is no requirement that straight Aggies listen to a discussion of sexual safety for gay men or

lesbian women, but clearly the same is not true for GLBT Aggies. We are treated to a discussion

of straight sexual safety and relationship guidelines whether we want to be or not. Thus, the

assertion that “alternative sexual education” is being funded more than “traditional values”

sexual education on this campus is not only patently false, but demeaning to those of us who

are consistently maligned for being attracted to (a) different gender(s) of people than the

Student Senate apparently feels we should be.

Senators, let me reiterate what I said at the beginning of this letter. Next year will be my 5th year of

study. I am a Presidential Endowed Scholar. I attended Fish Camp. I went to football games and yelled

until my voice was dead and my ass was red. I joined a FLO. I started two organizations. I received the

prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award for my contributions to this student body. I happen to be gay. I

am also a strong Christian, attend a local church, and have a wonderful relationship with my father.

A year ago, all of that almost vanished. I almost became a name read out at Silver Taps Senators,

because I was so tired of living the lie, feeling controlled by fear. And the voices that were in my head

were delivering the same message that the Student Senate is delivering to the GLBTQ students of this

university: you aren’t worth as much as everyone else. I’m not accusing the Student Senate of causing

suicides, but the passage of this bill simply reinforces a message that many GLBT people have been

hearing their whole lives. Will it take a Tyler Clementi here at Texas A&M before this becomes

apparent?

You may think it’s a sin, that I chose to be gay, and that I’m having wild, promiscuous, unprotected sex

every chance I get. You may think of me as a faggot, a queer, a poof, a fairy, or a dirty homo. You may

think that I will certainly die of AIDS…some of you may even think that I should die because of it. I know

people on this campus and in this community who think that I deserve the death penalty for being gay.

That is the reality of being gay on this campus, Senators. Even if a GLBT man or woman never once

experiences outright discrimination, the knowledge that if it weren’t for Texas politeness they almost

certainly would stays with them. It is fear, a constant awareness that we have to have when we’re on a

date or walking across campus, an undercurrent of uncertainty about how people will react to us

holding hands, wearing a GLBTAggies t-shirt, or standing in front of an Aggie Allies table by the Academic

Building.

That is why the GLBT Resource Center is essential. It was part of what kept me alive a year ago, having a

community where I knew I could find support, be able to talk to people who knew what I was going

through and had the funding and resources to help get me (and every other person who visits the

center, gay or straight) the information and support that they need to make it through a day, a week, a

year, a lifetime.

Because guess what Senators? Somehow, most of us still love Texas A&M. Despite everything, we still

bleed maroon. That’s why we are still here, why we haven’t just up and left, packed our bags, and hit

the road for California or New York. The people who work at the GLBT resource center could have just

given up years ago; it would have been easier. GLBT Aggies and their allies are still bettering this

campus through our involvement in the student body. But we will continue to fight to be recognized

fully as Aggies, despite the Student Senate’s clear position that we are not.

In closing, you will notice that my name is not attached to this letter. You may accuse me of cowardice,

of choosing to hide behind the cloak of anonymity as I take potshots at you. Then again, you may not.

But let me be clear: I have chosen to withhold my name not out of fear, but because you, as a senate

body, have lost my trust. Choosing to come out to someone, which is what I would be doing if I included

my name, requires trust. However, I do not trust you with my name any more than you as a senate trust

that the GLBT students of this campus honestly need the support and resources that the GLBT Resource

Center offers. You clearly no longer represent me, so you are no longer entitled to my name.

Maybe when you are willing to repair the damage that you have done to the Aggie Family I might be

willing to trust you again.

 

Sincerely,

An Aggie No More

 

 

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