The United States was once known as the “Melting Pot.” We are a diverse nation full of different cultures, religions, and opinions. Somewhere we are free to prosper and express our thoughts, all thanks to our founding fathers and the first amendment to the Constitution. Unlike race, gender, age, or religion, sexual orientation is not protected under current federal hate crimes, and the government refuses to pass the equality act.( Elliott, Philip. “Growing Pains For The LGBT March.” Time 186.27/28 (2015): 60–61. Academic Search Premier. Web. 25 June 2016.) Even though we are seeing societal progression and incremental progress with legalized gay marriage and members of the LGBT community, there are still barriers, hatred, and discrimination, in which they experience on a daily basis.
This led me to an interview on a mundane Tuesday afternoon with former teammate and best friend, Madison Cook. We sat on stools at a local Starbucks with the sun in our eyes as one of the workers brought over or Skinny Vanilla Lattes. Her modern multicolored Mohawk, high cheekbones, and sporty style leave no one to question the obvious. Madison comes from a small town in Idaho in an area surrounded of potatoes field workers and corn. Needless to say, there are no hiding secrets in this town, it’s just that small. She lived in a home walled of dark cobblestone. She was a country girl who hung her clothes on a clothes line surrounded in radishes and crops. She comes from a religious family of divorced parents who have both remarried. Now living on her own in a three bedroom apartment, she explains personal struggles and what her life is like being lesbian in the 21st century.
One of the most difficult times for Madison was her high school years in which she calls “Hell.” This was a time where she experienced judgment and bullying more than ever. Most of the judgment came from her own friends and family, which was least expected and remained miserable. “My parents hoped, wished, and prayed that I would return straight. I was raised in very religious family that viewed homosexuality as an abomination, as do most people in America.” According to Routledge Social sciences, “50% of Americans view homosexuality as a sin.” This was difficult for her because her sexuality conflicted with her beliefs. “ I understood that as we are all entitled to our religious beliefs and opinions and that it must be respected, but all I want is acceptance and love from my parents whether they agree or not.”
Madison recalls a time where she was in the locker room with the girls basketball team. “That day, the seniors were in charge of assigning the freshman their new lockers. This was an automatic guarantee that the oldest players would get the lockers where they wanted, which was usually the top rows.” “This was known as “seniority rule.” This was just one of the many concepts applied to the basketball program. “Those who have been there the longest deserve the upmost respect and you are to do as they say, in this aspect it was much like the military.” As the seniors called out the names and locker numbers, everyone quickly scattered to see what they had gotten. As they shouted her name and locker number she couldn’t help but feel lucky. “I was just happy I made the team.”
She collected her stuff and started towards her new locker number, 205. She wandered past all her friends and continued walking down the aisle. She passed all the lockers and turned around feeling clueless. “So where was it?” she thought to herself. “I took a stroll over to the opposite side and low and behold, there it was. I was the only one on the opposite side of the wall.” As she got dressed for practice and headed to the court, she couldn’t help but think about her locker situation. It was bugging her and she wondered if there was a deliberate reason. “I warmed up with one of my senior friends and asked if she knew why I had been placed in that certain location and the girl told me I had just got an unlucky pick. At that moment it dawned on me. I was on the other side because the girls didn’t want to change around a lesbian.” Madison explains that she will never know the real motive behind it all, but what she does know, is that the heartache and judgment she felt that day was something she never wanted to feel again. Throughout high school, Madison dealt with homophobic remarks, alienation, and many awkward social encounters with people who weren’t accepting of homosexuals. “Some of this has damaged my personal relationships and self-confidence, but I have learned to muddle through narrow minded thoughts of others.”
It’s stories like these that can help bring awareness to LGBT discrimination, and hopefully someday we can live without it all together. More importantly, it opened my eyes to be more understanding and open minded.
All of these differences we find in each other make us unique. We have the have a moral obligation as Americans to provide a peaceful and equal society. Somewhere that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals can reach their full potential and not live in fear. This was very eye opening to the fact that we should simply love people regardless of whom or where someone is at in life. We need to start finding the good in people. I think this interview would be of use to people who don’t understand gays and how difficult it is to not be in the category of traditional behavior or the stereotype that society says is acceptable.