Guest Column: Bridge the gap between groups

Where are all the allies?

It feels good to be out of the closet. During the week of Oct. 6, in collaboration with the LGBT Student Services Center and the Gamma Rho Lambda Colony at ISU, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Ally Alliance celebrated several separate events to commemorate National Coming Out Week, culminating in the National Coming Out Day rally on Oct. 11 at the Free Speech Zone in front of Parks Library.

Aside from the rally, members of the LGBT community had the chance to speak out against the FDA’s homophobic blood donation policies and to make posters. They had the chance to dance under black lights as well as discuss what coming out means to them. They even had the chance to view a documentary on historical gender binary nonconformity in Native American cultures. All in all, the week was a success; it was a testament to how far our society has come in allowing members of the LGBT community to freely express themselves.

However, as I stood in the circle of individuals gathered in the Free Speech Zone, rainbow flag in hand, ready, in my capacity as LGBTA Alliance president, to welcome all in attendance to our event, I could not help but ask myself one brutally honest question: Where are all the allies?

There was an impressively large delegation of LGBT and ally faculty and staff members at the rally, but otherwise, there were very few actual “straight” student allies in attendance. For the hour that my compatriots and I were gathered in front of Parks Library, I observed hundreds of my fellow students walking past our rally, faces forward, with no intention of joining our group in the celebration of the coming out process and the diversity of our LGBT community.

Of course, my criticism is in part unfair due to the fact that people have classes that they must attend. Nevertheless, I believe that the overarching theme of my concern is valid. In many respects, the LGBT community on this campus is isolated from the rest of the student population.

We do not always feel that we have the support that we need in order to feel like a true part of the Cyclone family. While our community by and large receives tolerance from the majority of students on campus, we do not receive open acceptance. When we go to sporting events here at Iowa State, we all cheer on our peers who are slugging it out against the opposing team. We do it because we take pride in the success of our fellow Cyclones. Do we not, as a broader community, have a similar vested interest in encouraging and openly supporting our LGBT friends and classmates?

Due to the diversity of our student body, I maintain that acceptance of all people is a Cyclone value. Being an ally to the LGBT community can be difficult at times, but this is the 21st century.

There are thousands of allies out there, so please — show yourselves. I assure you. Your fellow Cyclones will appreciate it.