In the year since the first edition of the Coming Out Anthology was published, many more people have become aware of issues of racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination and hate in our campus community. As hate crimes are increasingly reported, more people are forced to notice, think about, and deal with an aspect of life at Bates that has long gone unnoticed by those not directly affected.
We live in changing times. Many of us were alive in 1984 when 23-year-old Charlie Howard was brutally attacked and thrown to his death off of a bridge in Bangor because he was gay. A few of us were in Lewiston during the 2002-2003 school year, when an open letter from the mayor of Lewiston asking Somalis to stop coming to Lewiston was followed by a white supremacy rally and a 4,000-strong counter-rally. Almost all of us were here last fall when the Christian Civic League tried, and failed, to get sexual orientation taken out of Maine’s anti-discrimination policy.
Many in our generation see the challenges still faced to be huge and overwhelming, while many in the generation before ours can tell us that incredible amounts have already been achieved. The fact that some who read this are looking for reassurance and guidance in a startling and rough “coming out” process is a testament to how heterosexist our society still is.
It is my hope, though, that small things like this Anthology can make a small indent. It is meant to educate, to help, to inspire. It puts a face to the facts, theories, and stories about queerness, and brings them home to our community. For people questioning their sexuality, or in the process of coming out, it is a reminder that many of the people around them have dealt with the same thing. It is also a reminder that there is still more work to be done, more assumptions to be challenged, and more battles to be fought.
Last year several hundred of these Anthologies were distributed around campus. This year many new and returning writers have again shared their stories and thoughts, and I hope that even more people are able to hear what they have to say.
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