Fear and discrimination are two things that SHSU senior Doug Edwards faces every day as a gay male.
Edwards came out as bisexual during his junior year at Channelview High School, in East Houston, he said.
“I was with a girl at the time, so it’s kind of odd to say, ‘Well, I’m gay’ and still remain in a relationship with a girl, because I really did love her,” he said. “After a while, I realized that to identify myself as bisexual truly isn’t right. Although I’ve had girlfriends, the fact of the matter is I’m way more attracted to guys.”
While his friends were really supportive, his mother had the hardest time dealing with his homosexuality because of her Baptist background. His family is still coming to grips with his homosexuality, Edwards said.
“She couldn’t reconcile the fact that as much knowledge as I had about Christianity and as much knowledge as I had about the Bible, how I could become a homosexual and go against that,” he said. “My dad, on the other hand, was actually quite supportive. Oddly enough, and this is kind of a weird scenario, he had told me that he had always been attracted to both sexes. He just chose for a variety of reasons to live his life with a woman.”
One of the most “blatant forms of discrimination” Edwards encountered happened when he was a senior in high school and was not caused by the students, but by the faculty.
“I graduated valedictorian of my high school class,” he said. “But despite the fact, I was pretty much black listed from all scholarships from the school and the local community as a whole.
What had happened is that several students at the school had begun distributing an underground gossip newsletter that basically detailed my sexual practices, although many of these sexual practices were false,” he said.
According to Edwards, the details in the newsletter were graphic and revealed the fact that he was homosexual. The school did nothing to prevent the distribution of this newsletter, nor did the school do anything to the students when there was “clear evidence” of those who were involved.
“So what happened is, now my sexuality is out, and everybody’s aware of it,” he said. “Several faculty members (in confidence) had come up to me and told me that people on the scholarship committee at Channelview had met and decided not to give me scholarships from the local community because I did not ‘rise up to the moral standards’ of somebody that should deserve these scholarships, because of my sexuality.”
One of the most intimate and devastating ways all homosexuals are discriminated against is in the fact that they have to shift from being open to closed about their sexuality in this “fiercely conservative environment,” according to Edwards.
“What happens is there’s this process,” he said, while shifting his hand back and forth, “(homosexuals) will flip back and forth 15, 20, 25 times in one day, and the process becomes exhausting. It’s remarkable sometimes how homosexuals can flourish in an academic environment, such as this one, while having to focus all their energy on this identity-shifting process.
“I would say that love and the expression of love is very much a real part of the human experience and not only does the kind of social order we have now discriminate against homosexuals for being homosexual, but it denies them a very part of being human because they can’t express or even acknowledge their love.”
Homosexuals also have to live with a constant fear of physical violence, according to Edwards.
“Just walking down the halls of school, if I’m walking with my boyfriend, do I hold his hand? Do I not?” Edwards said. “In some situations I can not, flat out, out of fear of violence, out of fear of very real physical violence, and if not that, social isolation, and those kinds of things.”
Edwards said there has been substantial progress in the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but they still have a long way to go.
“The fact of the matter is that our attraction to people of the same sex doesn’t feel any different to us than it would to heterosexuals,” he said.