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Homosexuals Accepted in Some Areas of Campus, Not in Others

By Natalia Elmani

LAU Tribune staff

Walking slowly up the large steps in front of Nicol Hall, Tarek leans down to kiss his friends on the cheek as he makes his way to the edge of the stairs, an area that is the base for his contagious laugh and poppy jokes.

Just like some of the other men at LAU, he dresses in the casual jeans and tee shirt, but lets a little color beam through with small accessories.

Tarek, whose name has been changed for the purpose of this article, is openly homosexual. Regardless of his sexual preferences, he has made a name for himself with both males and females, acceptant to any and everyone.

His contentment didn’t arise from the moment he stepped through LAU’s gates, but rather coagulated overtime with accepting friends.

“When I first came here, it was a bit hard on me because I came from an environment that was really gay tolerant and accepting,” Tarek explained. “Even the gay people at LAU weren’t out, but having me as someone who’s out, kind of opened the door, or made things easier for them.”

Homosexuality can sit on the forefront of many people’s minds, yet on the back of people’s tongues; considered a taboo, sin or downright disgusting, homosexuality is yet to be accepted throughout a majority of the country –and many on campus.

“It’s not something I like to see regardless of where I go, and especially not in university,” Ali Sulaiman, a business student, said.  “In university, we come to learn, not to see this kind of stuff; I don’t tolerate drinking at university, so I don’t tolerate homosexuality either.”

Investigations suggested that an invisible divider stretches its lines across various areas on campus. Students who sit around the Fine Arts Building are more tolerant toward homosexuals. Students who sit near the Business Building seemed to dislike, or completely reject, the idea.

Serene Dardari, a student who conducted a survey of LAU students’ acceptance to homosexuality, witnessed the same differences.

“People at Fine Arts are more open-minded so everyone’s okay with homosexuality, but if you go to the upper gate and Business Building, it’s pretty bad, they have a more violent approach,” the radio/TV/film student noted.

Dardari reported that she herself was scrutinized for asking about the topic.

Tarek knows what the young woman is talking about.

“I wouldn’t go to the really upper area where the Shiite people sit, or the conservative Druze people or the Sunnis who are really into politics sit,” Tarek explained. “I wouldn’t go to Malik’s alone the whole time because the people up there are a little bit more homophobic; I choose areas where I know I’m accepted.”

Dean of Students Raed Mohsen said he has neither witnessed, nor heard of an incident in which a homosexual student felt threatened or unwelcomed within LAU.

“The environment in the classrooms is receptive, heterosexual students don’t have any negative reaction or feedback to gay relationships,” Mohsen said. “Occasionally, you have one or two students who would say something like I will not accept my daughter or son to be gay.”

Mohsen feels that, for awareness to be instilled within the students, problems that cause a division throughout the students must first be witnessed.

However, the problem may be more deeply embedded than one may think.

Rita Merhej recently conducted a small survey in her social psychology class –a simple questionnaire about homosexuality.

She found 19 out of 23 students acceptant to homosexuality, but quickly began seeing question marks. The results seemed all too real, and alongside various students in the class, she wasn’t the only one to believe that even though the survey was anonymous, students weren’t completely honest.

“One of my impressions was that I perceived a lot of embarrassment. Although it wasn’t their answers, they were reading other answers without even knowing who that other student is,” Merhej recalled. “You would see some embarrassment among some students; raising of the hand was a bit shy or timid.”

Merhej also found that students were acceptant of homosexuality at a distance, yet, when it became closer to their personal boundaries, positive reception took a sudden dive.

“In general it’s wrong. On campus, of course it’s wrong,” a business student said.  His surrounding friends explained to him that homosexuality is in people’s “hormones.”

Near the Fine Arts building, students were more sympathetic. “Basically the people that make situations harsher for these people have nothing better to do with their lives,” Thea Khoury, a communication arts student, said.

Meanwhile, Tarek tries to stick to his circle of accepting friends.

“It’s not a matter of them accepting or not, we exist and being here is more than enough to make our point,” Tarek said. “So I think instead of wasting their energy to stop us or mock us or say what they want to say, go on the internet and try to research the topic.”

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The official student newspaper at the Lebanese American University

Discussion

10 thoughts on “Homosexuals Accepted in Some Areas of Campus, Not in Others

  1. I would rather see an open homosexual on campus, one who is brave enough to show and experience who he or she really is, than a blinded follower of some political/religious party. The latter is what disgusts me and is what is keeping us from moving forward!

    Posted by REEM | May 9, 2012, 9:38 am
  2. On another note, I would like to highlight something that does not stand in the likes of homosexuals. They tend to have eccentrically promiscuous attitudes. I do not mean to speak about all homosexuals, yet many of them are like that. I feel this stands in the way of their communal acceptance; especially from the older or more conservative generation.

    Posted by REEM | May 9, 2012, 9:44 am
    • Actually Reem, the reason for higher trends of promiscuity among male homosexuals is actually the result of stigmatization of their identity and the cultural position that men are incapable of forming relationships with other men that are beyond the platonic or sexual level. It is true that, among gay men, promiscuity and sex addiction are significantly high compared to their straight counterparts but that reality is only because of the average gay man’s internalization of the aforementioned homophobia that makes them believe that they can not find a satisfying romantic monogamous relationship with other men and must thus resort to casual repetitive meaningless sex.

      Posted by witchylisa | May 9, 2012, 4:27 pm
  3. Homosexuals are less important than pigs and dogs and they should be killed

    Posted by Abriz | May 9, 2012, 2:32 pm
    • Abriz,
      The LAU Tribune will not tolerate this language. If you do not accept homosexuals, at least respect them as the human beings that they are.

      Witchylisa and Reem, thank you for your comments.

      Natalia Elmani

      Posted by LAU Tribune | May 10, 2012, 2:08 pm
  4. -One’s religion/sexuality is none of my business.
    -One should not advertise his religion/sexuality and should keep it to him self and his private life.

    When both those conditions are met, society can move on.

    Why do people treat Homosexual people differently?
    REALITY: Most children are assholes. Put twenty children in a room together, and they’ll inevitably figure out which child is different and tell it to their face until that child breaks down into a puddle of tears and shame. And by different I don’t necessarily mean sexually. Humans are bullies by nature, when you come to them advertising that you are different than them (better or worse), they wont take that lightly.
    Different people are in the unknown zone, people fear the unknown. They fear what they don’t know so they automatically act defensively.

    @Reem: like I said earlier, since you compare the two, you should be able to see it from both point of views.
    You hate one who is strongly advertising his political/religious statues but have no problem with the sexuality advertisement.
    Another person might be just the exact opposite of you, hate who strongly advertise sexuality and is fine with the others.
    There are 2 options for the society to move on:
    -Everyone accepts both scenarios (which is impossible, you just showed us that)
    -Everyone rejects both scenarios (which might sound harsh, but no one gets hurt and everyone gets along)
    I personally do the second, I have no problem with my friend being gay as long as he don’t advertise it (as in talk about his gay relation all the time, wear women clothing and jewelry in open because he can, etc…)
    if the guy acts like a normal social person in which we can go eat a quick bite, hang out in a group gang and participate in normal teenage events. that would be cool. (everyone tend to think he is special, but when he starts forcing it on everyone else, they will distance themselves from him)

    Also, your posts are generalizing homosexuals a lot, as if they all come in one flavor, try to avoid that.

    @ABRIZ: Pigs and dogs do not kill and if you are a religious person you should know that you should respect animals instead of trying to force them as insults. I know it’s not your fault that you think that way, but it starts becoming your own when you start to forcefully advertise it and shove it in other people’s faces without having your own opinion about it first (and by that I mean, you talk about what you’ve been told and taught but not from your own experience and research, you never sat down and had a talk with an socially/emotionally balanced homosexual before).

    ~Jawad

    Posted by Jawad | May 11, 2012, 1:15 pm
  5. @ WitchyLisa: I agree!
    @Jawad: Interesting perspective and point made. I advocate one’s sexuality being and religious/political affiliation as personal bits of information, yet I do not see the former’s relation to a country’s development! It is more related to freedom of expression; whether it is expressing one’s political view or sexuality (as you said). I quote your words “When both those conditions are met, society can move on”, however, with confessionalism in a country as religiously diverse as Lebanon, your criteria for society moving on does not apply; excluding sexual expression bc it has nothing to do with it. Whether I am gay or not has nothing to do with what party I decide to follow (unless I am in the U.S. at this point in time, then I would definitely go for OBAMA a second time around); yet this does not apply in Lebanon. In a non secular rule, one’s inability to see the end goal, such as ‘blind’ political followers in this case, is a big barrier to development. To understand politics in Lebanon, one has to be deeply knowledgeable of its history. Moreover, it is very unlikely for a Lebanese to give an objective analysis of different political parties.
    One last note: people are different, some are extroverts and other are introverts, some like to express and others don’t, some like to listen to those expressing and again others don’t. I don’t believe I generalized especially by specifically mentioning that “not all of them are like that yet a lot are”, and feel that you definitely did by saying that all people are cruel in nature. I believe that we are young adults with the ability of telling the difference between being hostile friendly or neutral for that matter.

    Posted by REEM | May 11, 2012, 2:23 pm
  6. Awesome article. Thanks for sharing.

    Posted by BeirutBoy | May 11, 2012, 4:33 pm
  7. Jawad and BeirutBoy, thank you for your comments.

    Natalia Elmani

    Posted by LAU Tribune | May 13, 2012, 11:09 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Recap of the Homophobic Article by Mohamad Sibai in AUB’s Outlook « Homos Libnani - May 9, 2012

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