While walking through Craven Quad last week, I passed a student who I knew to be a homosexual. He was wearing a navy blue "gay? fine by me." shirt. It was no doubt a comical sight; a homosexual declaring personal tolerance for homosexuality. But my amusement quickly waned as I began thinking about the brief, but eventful history of the "gay? fine by me." movement.
It began last April, when a group of students stood on the Bryan Center walkway for several days and passed out 500 of the free shirts. Seemingly unaware that few refuse free clothing, the Duke Allies--a group which calls itself "open-minded" and supportive of "a culture free of homophobia and heterosexism"--instantly dubbed the giveaway an "amazing success" and, along with some other students, ordered over 500 more shirts.
Much attention followed. The campaign was covered by the News and Observer of Raleigh, which reported, slightly inaccurately, that President Nan Keohane and basketball players Shavlik Randolph and Nick Horvath had been wearing the shirts (only Horvath had). Another article appeared in a Boston-based gay and lesbian newspaper. A website complete with pictures of Duke students wearing the shirts soon arose.
The "gay? fine by me." movement was definitely rolling along.
And it seemed harmless enough. There was no flamboyance, just a simple message: "gay? fine by me."
In a world where Berkeley students recently took a course called "Male Sexuality" and watched their instructor have sex at a gay strip club for a final project, the Duke movement had the potential to be the most respectable pro-gay campaign ever. But then those involved got carried away and used the r-word--rights.
I still remember the red flags that went up in my mind as I read the first sentence of the April 15 Chronicle cover story: "A simple slogan...moved about campus Monday as people donned free T-shirts in support of gay rights."
The article made two more mentions of the vague term "gay rights." Tyler Pulis, a December graduate said to be working "in a nuclear physics lab on campus" was quoted saying, "while handing out shirts," that the giveaway "is an easy way to show that there are people on campus who are cool with gay rights without any other sort of agenda attached."
So here we have a person claiming to be promoting gay rights by giving away shirts that attack homophobia and declare tolerance for homosexuality. The only problem is that we live in America, where no one has the right for others to be personally "fine" with his or her choices.
To frame the "gay? fine by me." campaign as a rights issue is to argue for mind control. For if a homosexual has the right for others to be "fine" with his or her gayness, then others have a legal obligation to not personally oppose it.
I personally believe homosexuality to be immoral. I refuse to become "open-minded" and acknowledge it as a happy and healthy lifestyle equivalent to heterosexuality. Does my position violate anyone's rights? Surely not--it's merely an opinion. In fact, because it is an opinion--and one derived almost entirely from my religious beliefs--campaigns to silence it and other "homophobic" views violate both my rights to free expression and my religious freedoms.
So the "gay? fine by me." movement, which attempts only to curtail homophobia, should not be said to promote gay rights. It simply encourages people to declare that homosexuality is "fine," and thereby does nothing more than express an opinion that all have the right to either support or disagree with.
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The campaign is merely the most subtle step yet that campus homosexual activists have taken to self-righteously bully others into supporting homosexuals and their supposed plight. They don't tolerate opposing views and strive to gain sympathy by claiming that there exists an ongoing national epidemic of physical violence towards homosexuals.
As graduate student Thomas Scotto put it in a September 26 letter to The Chronicle, homosexual individuals don't "walk and hold hands with their partners" because "the idea of a glass bottle flying at one's head is not appealing."
But as much as they like to play the fear card, Duke's homosexual activists are often more than happy to flaunt their sexualities. Many of those in the "gay? fine by me." movement will later this month host "Coming Out Week"--a heavily-covered celebration of homosexuality flamboyant enough to make Ken Kaniff blush.
In an almost laughable twist, the very paper that Scotto's letter ran in featured, prominently on the front page, a color picture of two females sitting in front of Duke Chapel at the "Kiss-In Lunch" on the Quad. The couple kissed passionately. There were no glass bottles in sight.
Nathan Carleton is a Trinity junior. His column appears every other Tuesday.