When the Husky Alumni, Brian Sims, came out to his teammates in the 2000 Football Season. It was not his choice. Instead, a former partner of his shared a class with the Quarterback of the team, in an apparent attempt to get Sims kicked off the Football team, disclosed Sims’ sexuality. He hid his sexuality from his teammates, fearing it would change how they interacted with him. However, it didn’t change how Sims was treated.
Instead, it opened the eyes of the players. Sims broke many of the stereotypes that many on the team had about gay people. Gay people were portrayed as flamboyant, feminine, and talking with a lisp. Brian was different from those stereotypes, benching 225 pounds 37 times, talking with no lisp, and not displaying feminine traits. He was a manly man who liked men. It did not make him less of a friend and teammate.
Now, Sims proudly holds the role as the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
The current-day students are feeling the change 23 years later. “It will definitely depend on who you ask, but for me, I’d say my experience on campus is generally positive. A big part of why I chose to come to Bloomsburg was knowing that I would have safe spaces in BUEA and the LGBTQIA Resource Center at the very least, and that has held true. And there are so many more members of the community here (plus allies!) than where I grew up. There are certainly individuals and groups you come across that are not accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community, but I have found they’re much easier to deal with when you’re also surrounded by plenty of people who support you as you are.”, wrote one BU student.
Another fellow current Husky shared, “I have personally found Bloomsburg to be an accepting place for LGBTQIA+ students on campus. Both students and professors are not afraid to show their pride, and that creates an accepting environment for all. The Equality Alliance also offers many opportunities for LGBTQIA+ students to meet and collaborate, so no student feels alone on this campus.”
Both students had the message of simply learning and being there for friends who are a part of the community. Learn by attending events and activities organized by the LGBTQIA center, and listen to the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people.
The director of the LGBTQIA+ Resource Center, Monica Johnson, was kind enough to speak with about what pride means at BU. “Our campus community can show support by attending resource center and BUEA programs, requesting SpeakOut panels for organizations and/or classes, and taking time to learn about the LGBTQIA+ community. Being an ally is an action, not just a label, and allies should take the time to educate themselves about how to help.”
Pride is not to “groom” or force individuals into the community. Pride provides a forum for promoting LGBTQIA+ rights, equality, and visibility. It draws attention to the current challenges that the LGBTQIA+ community faces. Something that is needed now after attacks from individuals who want to eradicate “transgenderism” and that homosexuality is a “mental illness.”
The advancement of LGBTQIA+ rights as a culture war issue for the 2024 election is going to make life worse for LGBTQIA+ people. Over 500 pieces of legislation have been introduced that would gut LGBTQIA+ rights in the United States.
It is important for students to support our fellow Huskies and non-Huskies during this period of time. It is important to register to vote and support candidates who support pro-LGBTQIA+ legislation.
Follow the BU Equality Alliance on IG @buequalityalliance and resource center @bu_lgbtqa_rc