Milton Folk recalls the fall 2002 semester, when students at CSUN wore green ribbons to show their support to the gay community.
“I did not imagine that so many students were so open in their support,” said Folk, who graduated last spring with a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences, and was involved with and received support from the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance club at CSUN.
Folk said he knew he was gay before coming to college and that CSUN had an organization were he could meet other people who would understand and share experiences as well.
Folk said he experienced some rejection and ridicule, but never to the extent where it affected him emotionally. Some people would giggle when he passed by and give him looks, he said. Other people would approach him in a respectful way, however, and he would answer their questions.
“(At) CSUN you can be your own person,” Folk said.
Mike Luna, CSUN alumnus, shared a positive experience as well. Luna graduated in 2004 with a master’s degree in college counseling. Luna’s master thesis was designing a project program on how to make the process of “coming out” more pleasant for the student and their family.
While Luna was very cautions at the beginning of the school year, he said he later felt welcome and accepted. “I needed to be honest to myself, if I wanted to help other people,” he said.
Michael Colorge, political science major, has served on the USU Board of Directors and at the LGBTA. He said that every three to four years the visibility of the organization changes depending on the orientation and activeness of the director. In the past three last years the organization has had more lesbians on the executive board, which has increased the number of lesbian members.
“CSUN is definitely a gay friendly campus,” said Alicia Triplett.
Triplett graduated last spring and said she feels that there is still some discrimination against gays and lesbians, which can primarily be seen in comments made in class.
Alexa, a communication major who would like to only be identified by her first name, agreed that the campus is friendly to gays but said there is still more room from improvement in other groups, such as the bisexual community. Alexa, who just transferred from San Diego State University, said she thinks these groups need to be more visible on campus.
Dusty Rael, deaf studies major and newly elected president of the LGBTA, explains that one of the main issues with the gay community on campus is the commentary made by other students.
“Mainly it’s ignorance (that) drives people to make comments such as faggot, queer (and) dyke, among others,” said Rael.
Rael is also part of a deaf fraternity and recalled an occasion where his bothers were constantly using the expression “That’s so gay.” He asked them to refrain from using those terms, and they apologized and did not continue to use the phrase.
Rael said that those phrases and classifications were once insults, but their own members have adopted and use them as terms of empowerment.
Taryn Jordan, pre-med major, said she thinks professors and students should be more cautious about generalizations. She recalled an incident in which a classmate would not let go of the idea that all gays play with dolls when kids. Her classmate suggested that prohibiting kids to play with dolls would increase their chance at a heterosexual lifestyle during adulthood.
“My classmate was obsessed with that theory,” Jordan said.
The LBGTA creates a forum where students can debate, share and support issues that affect the gay community.
“We want to make everyone welcome,” Rael said.