Immanuel Adeola ’14
The biggest part of our identity usually comes from our upbringing. It is the most glaring indicator of how we originated our beliefs and values. For me, my identity was shaped by strong Christian values that emphasized social justice, equality, and tolerance of all of God’s children. I can recount numerous Sunday School lessons where I learned that Jesus saw everyone as equals in the eyes of God. He dined with sinners and embraced with open arms those people that society has rejected. At some point during our lives, the vigor of our faith is tested.
My biggest test of my faith came during the fall of my first year at Trinity. I was walking back to my dorm after a long Saturday night out when I saw two guys walking towards me, holding hands. At first I thought maybe I was wrong; I was very far from them and the darkness might have just made it appear that way.
My original thought was confirmed the closer I moved towards them. When we all came within talking distance, I felt a part of my body cringe in anguish, as if something about them made me uneasy. When they saw me they both waved and smiled. I waved back with some hesitancy, hoping they could not sense my discomfort. I think it was then that I realized my hypocrisy.
If you really think about the situation in depth, you realize that the only reason people put down homosexuality is because of their discomfort with something that they aren’t used to seeing. There is nothing wrong with having skepticism about something different. However, the only way to address the problem is to be open-minded and understand the other side’s perspective, something I believe more students at Trinity should do, in every issue. During my time at Trinity, I have been fortunate to meet and talk to many students of homosexual orientation.
I say I’m fortunate because talking to them has opened my eyes to the evils of discrimination. I can draw parallels to the discrimination that minorities, women, and even early immigrants have experienced during the course of our history. It is one thing to read about such discrimination, but another to experience it on a daily basis. It is really frightening to hear that after years of discrimination, inequality, and injustice, we as a society have not fully moved into an era of tolerance and acceptance of all people. We have not learned from the mistakes we made not too long ago.
The unfortunate reality is that the problem runs much deeper than a lack of tolerance. It truly stems from the values and beliefs that some of us were inculcated with as young children. This is the same reason we saw racism outlive the Civil Rights Movement. It is the same reason why women and men are still not equals in the workplace. It is the same reason we have religious tension between Judeo-Christian values and Islam.
I wrote an article three weeks ago on tolerance, and how it preserves the fabric of our nation and the world. In it, I reference the brilliance of our constitution as a legal document and visionary road map for our country. The founding fathers embarked on a journey to create a nation that would personify the true definition of justice and equality. They wanted a nation that would be empowered by the people; a nation that would govern from the bottom up; a nation that would protect the liberty of all men. We must extend that to the issue of sexual orientation.
We were able to move past discrimination by recognizing that the Spirit of our Constitution is strengthened by the idea that all men are created equal, and are free to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in whatever form they choose. Therefore, in order to protect the integrity of our constitution, we as a nation must embrace the acceptance of all sexual orientations regardless of how foreign it might seem to us individually. As a college, we also must do the same. Ally Week aims to bring students together to recognize, understand, and celebrate not only the respect of all sexual orientations, but also the respect of all people and their various identities. In doing so, we reaffirm the strong tenets of our country, our college, and our personal beliefs in social equality.
We must continue to hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal. We must affirm that our nation has not faltered from its ideals of liberty, and that brotherhood continues to reign from sea to shining sea.