The Daily Gamecock

Letter to the Editor: Daily Gamecock Pride article offensive, unacceptable

I appreciate The Daily Gamecock’s coverage of SC Pride. It exposed a lot of people to something they may have been unaware of entirely. However, there are multiple errors with this piece that must be addressed.

Firstly, the repeated use of the phrase “gay community” throughout is inappropriate. “Gay” is one identity and not at all representative of the LGBTQ+ community. Pride is not simply a celebration of gay people. It is a celebration of all LGBTQ+ people. Putting all things LGBTQ+ under the label “gay” erases the identities of all those who are not gay. Pride is much more than just a “fun and colorful event." I remember the first time I went to Pride, I was so overwhelmed with a sense of joy, community, and love that I even still, 2 years later, have a hard time putting it into words. In a world where my identity as a queer man is constantly being erased, Pride allows me a place to escape heterosexist social structures, even if just for one day.

Secondly, the use of the phrase “LGBT lifestyle” is highly offensive. This rhetoric has been rejected by LGBTQ+ people for a long time now. The use of the word “lifestyle” implies that there are other (read: better) choices to be made. This particular rhetoric has been used by religious conservatives to demonize LGBTQ+ people on the grounds of moral bankruptcy. The use of the word “lifestyle” implies that we are choosing our marginalization. Queer people do not live lifestyles. We live lives.

Thirdly, there is a lack of diligence on behalf of the DG staff to do justice to the complexity of the issue. By interviewing four first-year students, it could not possibly paint a clear picture of what Pride is, either the parade or the festival (which was omitted from discussion). Instead of reaching out for a comment from the myriad of queer-identified upperclassmen in multiple student organizations dedicated to intersectional social justice such as IRIS, FemCo, or SIC, or to the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, LGBT Programs, or any of the LGBT Peer Advocates, it was deemed appropriate to interview four people who have not attended SC Pride. We even have a fellow Gamecock on the Pride staff, a person I am proud to call my friend. The Parade Coordinator is a fifth-year student here at USC and was neither consulted nor interviewed. Approached were four people who did not seem to have much knowledge of what they were discussing. That’s just lazy.

Fourthly, the inclusion of homophobic quotes is exasperating. The typical “I support you, I just don’t agree with your actions” rhetoric allows people to feel good about themselves for “support” that is neither useful nor active. Not hurling slurs at me as I walk in a Pride parade or kiss my boyfriend on the Horseshoe is not support. It is the baseline for being a decent human being. You do not get a gold star or a pat on the back for respecting me as a person and a fellow student at this university. This kind of passive attitude is what allows systems of heterosexism to prevail. It is why it is legal to fire employees for being LGB in 31 states. It is why “trans panic," the claim that you feared for your life upon learning a person is trans so you kill them, is a legal defense in every state except California. In systems of inequality and oppression, neutrality is equivalent to siding with the oppressor. This says to fellow LGBTQ+ Gamecocks and Columbians that no matter what, our happiness must be mitigated. The focus can never remain on our happiness because, ultimately, being LGBTQ+ is undesirable and we mustn’t forget that. Regardless of whether non-LGBTQ+ people “support” us, we are here. We have always been here. We are not going anywhere.

My peers and I are incredibly disappointed in this article. I commend the editing staff for making corrections to the online article after it was posted. However, that does not nullify the damage done by the initial printing and release. This article feels like a missed opportunity. It could have been an informative discussion of SC Pride’s origins, having begun in 1989. Or how last year saw over 20,000 attendees with a family area, political speakers and community partners dispersed throughout. There could have been discussion of the 1969 Stonewall Riots that led to the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement. Instead the decision was made to use homophobic language and quotes about the LGBTQ+ lifestyle” and referred to the community as “they."

This article proves that we still have work to do, not just as LGBTQ+ people but all people, to be truly inclusive. We still have work to do make sure that in our attempts to be inclusive, we are not using antiquated, unacceptable language, not erasing identities, and not detracting from necessary conversations with commentary lacking substance and fact. If we are going to be inclusive, we need to make sure we’re making our commentary as complex as the people about whom we are writing. Otherwise, it’s as good as, or maybe worse, than not writing at all.


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