• Lillie Burke

Letter to the Editor: The weight of the word on our shoulders

Editor’s note: The following is a piece submitted by a Belmont student. The views and opinions expressed in this letter do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Belmont Vision. Letters to the editor help us accomplish our mission of expressing “student news, student views.” The Vision welcomes readers to submit letters to the editors through our email at belmontvisionnews@gmail.com.

Sophomore Scott Frenzel wrote this letter. 

I did not like the word when I saw it spray painted. I did not like the word when I saw it on Fred Phelp’s signs, and I did not like the word today. I sat in the auditorium today tired from a schedule that started a little too early. Trying to shake the routine of summer from my eyes, I listened to presentations about move-in day, legalities and a motivational speech by Matt Chambers on being leaders in the community and how categorizing others can affect that.

The motivational speech opened with a story about Matt Chambers giving his two sons the sex talk and being dumbfounded when their first questions were, “What does it mean to be gay?” and “Why can’t we call people faggots?”

There it was.

The word was back and it stung and it burned. I was offended. I was offended because a man with no explained ties to the LGBTQ community just used a word that holds struggles and tears and death within it, and he used it as a tactic to get our attention. But this word is not a category, it’s a scar. This word is the thousands of lives lost to AIDS in the 80s when it was written off as “gay cancer” and what those people “deserved.”

This word is another padlock on the closet door of students at Belmont struggling with their sexuality because they have been told who they are is wrong in the eyes of God. And this word is a 13-year-old Scott Frenzel being bullied on a Thursday night with more than 100 text messages to his phone saying “You’re gay,” each stinging a little more than the last.

So I am offended. You might say I am easily offended, but if I do not stop this word in its tracks–if I do not speak up then who will? I refuse to let the word’s history be disregarded and I refuse to let the word be reduced to a tool to get a hushed audience.

The speaker was ignorant, not hateful, but certainly not respecting the power of the word that floated from his tongue. I write this because I do not want this to happen again. I do not want people to be ignorant. I want you to know the weight of that word in so many people’s lives, and I want you to give your usage of that word the respect of the thousands of lives it has taken.

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