By: Devyn Adams, Contributor
Growing up gay and trans in rural Maine was like growing up without a voice. It meant learning “gay” was a thing you’d be vilified for before even coming out to yourself.
It meant going through twelve years of state-mandated curriculum that never once told you of the brave people who fought for and rioted for people like you. It meant something as simple as wearing nail polish, at once, simply didn’t feel safe until I left my home.
That brings me to last Tuesday, when I was on my way to get my first manicure.
I was leaving the dining hall in Gorham that afternoon and couldn’t help but notice a small crowd of people had gathered. I came closer, and that’s when I saw it: a sign reading “Warning:”, “sex addicts”, “baby killers”, “rebellious women”, and “drunkards”, “God’s Judgment is Coming”, and “homo” with a slash through it.
Nevermind who held that sign, his word spoke for himself. Immediately I heard him throwing out homophobic attacks at students embracing their partners and holding their pride flags in protest, sexually harassing young women for their appearance, and even insinuating that, had public safety not been nearby, students would sexually assault him.
To which the crowd cried a triumphant “Huskies give consent!”
All the while I couldn’t help but wonder, “Why was he allowed to do this?”
Why was it that a non-student could come onto our campus, our home, and commit such violence against us? Why was it that a student’s pride flag, a symbol of strength and love for many in my community, was considered a weapon when this man had an actual weapon openly displayed on his person? Why was he not asked to leave yet repeated attempts were made to make students leave?
At what point is this a man exercising his first amendment rights or is this a heterosexual, cisgender, white, male exploiting his privilege to commit an act of violence, because it should be painstakingly obvious this was the later.
We as a university must decide for ourselves where that point lies, and realize that divide exists on a continuum biased towards those who have the most.
I know where I stand on free speech, and the next time someone spreads hate on campus you’ll find me with glistening, lacquered nails, holding my communities symbol of pride, and defending my right to live and pursue happiness.