One difficulty in separating fact from fiction and communicating about gay matters is society's discomfort with sexuality in general. Most of us know someone who is gay. Indeed, it is likely someone we feel close to - a friend, family member, or classmate - is gay. Yet, their presence in our community is often rendered invisible or treated as an anomaly because of ignorance, fear of difference, prejudice, and the discrimination that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals historically have faced.
Men and women throughout the Bucknell community identify themselves as gay, lesbian, and bisexual. Some people are very frank about their same-sex orientation; such persons are said to be "out of the closet." Others choose varying degrees of discretion about how much and with whom to share the knowledge of their same-sex orientation; such individuals are sometimes described as "in the closet."
"The closet" is thus both a figure of speech and a reality of everyday life. The dominant U.S. culture reinforces and rewards heterosexuality as the normal and desirable way to be while it devalues and distorts homosexuality as its opposite. Certain privileges are assumed by straight individuals and married couples. For example, in custody issues, health benefits, insurance rates, housing, employment, next-of-kin rights, etc., gays lesbians, and bisexuals are disadvantaged. The closet represents the silence to which many gay concerns such as these are relegated. The closet is also the silence in which many gay people fell confined - a silence that may save their jobs or keep them from bodily harm.
Safe places like Bucknell's Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns Office, Psychological Services, the Chaplain's Office, and the Women's Resource Center aim to provide support and advice in coming to understand the many forces that constitute the closet.
"Although it has been difficult to be an out couple on the Bucknell campus, it has also been a source of freedom and unity for us, both as individuals and as a couple. it is important for gay and lesbian couples at Bucknell to speak out and to show that their love is a reality, a reality too powerful to ignore"
Tara Cross, Class of 2001
Stacey White, Class of 1999
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