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Letter: Homosexuals want recognition and protection

I'd like to congratulate Bill English on his commentary. He had the guts to say what many Duke students' eyes say every day. He put words to looks I get around campus. He articulated why I can't feel comfortable kissing my girlfriend's cheek; not because I'm afraid, but because I simply don't have the energy to deal with the disapproving glares that result. Instead of arguing in a rational, non-hostile manner, his article was deliberately provocative. I choose not to stoop to others' stereotypes and ignorance, igniting yet another endless debate.

I am a quiet, normal-looking homosexual. I don't shave my head, wear pink leather pants or desire to convert the world to homosexuality. I merely desire to be recognized by my peers and protected by my government. Most may be surprised at the sheer numbers of those like me on this campus. There are far more gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender faculty members, employees, administrators and students than many realize.

Do you know what it's like to live knowing you could be beaten for whom you love and what you do? To walk down the street with pedestrians staring? To think twice about going to a gay bar, the only safe place where you can dance with your girlfriend, because there's a cop outside? You never know if the cops are there to stop underage drinking or to protect us from gay bashers. Did you grow up thinking that there's something intrinsically wrong with you? Were you sick to your stomach when you heard about Matthew Shepard and realized that you too could be beaten and few would care? Live in my shoes for 365 days, one minute feeling the elation of being in love, the next, feeling so alone because few understand that love. Then people can tell me that my pride in myself and my love for my community is pathetic.

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