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'No Homo' - A Response to Dr Carmen Cruz's Guardian Article

25/02/2014 11:30 GMT | Updated 26/04/2014 10:59 BST

I, as a final year undergraduate student at the University of Southampton, couldn't help but have an opinion on Carmen Cruz's recent comment piece, published on the Guardian newspaper's' online 'Comment is Free' section - see here.

It is fascinating to read about the detailed psychology behind male connections within our modern society and I cannot recommend reading Dr Cruz's article enough - I thought it might be of benefit to the Huffington Post's readers and my fellow university students to get another angle, another viewpoint.

"65% of women believe homosexuality should be accepted, while only 55% of men believe the same." - Direct quote from Dr Carmen Cruz's article.

But who am I? Why do I care?

I'm a 23 and 1/4 year-old white male from a working/middle-class background, having spent my wonderfully near-perfect childhood in the idylls of rural West Dorset. What do I know about hardships? I don't think anyone you know has had a 'free ride' through life; we all have our upsets and our problems.

My argument is that no hardships should be waved away lightly and that the LGBT rights of the global community are a fine example of such hardship, such struggle.

Even today - literally, today, the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, signed the 'Anti-Gay Bill' - defying all warnings and signs from nations across the globe, including a strongly-worded warning from US President Barack Obama.

I speak with relative confidence - several of my close friends are gay or bisexual - in that being different is never easy. Standing out - however much you want to, or not - is always going to bring in the trolls so to speak.

It's 2014 for God's sake, why are we still only now, giving 'minorities' equality?

Cast your minds back to the summer of last year; the BBC Proms.

The Last Night of the Proms. Marin Alsop - for those unaware - is a world-renowned conductor and was the first woman conductor of the Last Night of the Proms.

Marin is one of the few people I feel, still to this day, proud to have had the honour of meeting when I was a lanky - well I am not dissimilar in stature current, than to my 15 year old self, if we're being honest - Year 10 work experience secondary school student at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

I can remember watching a Naxos interview with her in which she was, possibly in equal proportion, honoured to be the first woman to conduct the Last Night, but at the same time was in shock that it was, being 2013, still a decade in which there are still firsts for women.

See the under-5min interview with Marin Alsop here.

What struck me about Dr Cruz's article was that I have, unfortunately been in the company of my friends in which 'No homo' has been used. I don't know why it happens, it has just slotted seamlessly into colloquial language amongst university students and little is thought about what you're actually saying.

Students, by saying 'No homo', it might be just harmless banter, but just think about if you were in a packed club, shouted it at the top of your lungs, not taking more than a millisecond to scan the surroundings? Stop what you're doing and actually listen to me. The people, some of my close friends among them, you are around are influenced by what you choose to do outwardly; how you act, how you dress, how you treat people. Think about that for a second.

You can actually choose not to say 'No homo'. You can choose. It's your life. All I'm doing by writing this article is maybe trying to present a different angle to a discussion or thought that might've not hit you before.

Equality. Equality for every man and woman in this world.

Think about how far the LGBT community has come, who is fighting for their rights by putting their personal (and professional) lives on the line to make sure that others can follow in their footsteps, see Ellen Page's recent speech in which she came out, remember Tom Daley? Remember Michael Sam's recent announcement.

Just because people are accepting and will generally not kick up a fuss unless you really, really press their last nerve and often, it doesn't mean that behaviours should be tolerated.

Only you can change your opinion, your actions, your reactions.

Only you can think about what impact your words can have.

Only you can change.

I just really hope you - as the student population of Southampton, as the wider community, as the nation of Great Britain - do. If you and your peers don't, another generation will be lost; constantly afraid of being that 'different' kid in the playground, that 'different' person in your seminar room, that 'different' person on your favourite sports team.

Make the change and fast.

The wider equality of our global community depends on it.

Ben Hansen Hicks is the Co-Chair of SoActWeek - a student-led Campaign, based out of the University of Southampton, to protest against the Governmental proposal to sell off the Student Loan book (between 1998-2012.

Join the SoActWeek Mailing List to find out more about events, exposure and how to become a SoActWeek Volunteer here

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