Intolerance of gays to be focus of panel discussion

By Rebecca Sweeney

Casey Lyons makes a joke when she hears an offensive remark to point out how inane the comment is without putting tension in the air.

“Like, for example, a friend of mine once said the movie ‘My Fair Lady’ was gay, and I said, ‘No, I swear I saw it holding hands with ‘Renaissance Man’ last night; it’s got to be straight,’ ” said Lyons, an English and Spanish senior.

Awareness of harassment toward gays is the subject of tonight’s presentation, “In My Shoes: Stories of Our Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, Questioning and Ally Campus and Community.”

The panel discussion is part of the Diversity Dialogues series sponsored by Student Diversity Engagement and the Division of Student Affairs. It will be held tonight at 7 in the Center Theater.

Panelists will share their experiences growing up gay in Kentucky and how they have dealt with intolerance and hatred.

Students can fight stereotypes by fighting prejudice in their own lives, Lyons said.

“I think things like that really make a difference, and I do it whether someone makes a sexist comment, a racist comment or anything,” she said.

Many people feel uncomfortable around gay people because they don’t know much about what it is like to be gay or why they should support gay rights, said Lyons, co-director of OUTsource, the campus resource center for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and questioning students. OUTsource aims to support these students by hosting events and providing access to materials related to coming out and dealing with harassment.

“This dialogue is just to tell our stories and educate people about our lives and experiences to fight prejudice,” Lyons said.

Lyons hopes that by hearing the panel’s experiences, the audience will have a stronger connection to statistics about gay and transgender people whose friends have bullied them or whose families have kicked them out of their homes.

“This makes it more personal so that people see that it isn’t some political issue to be debated, it’s people’s lives,” she said.