StandOut seeks allies in UT community

Omar Gamboa

Psychology junior Ashley Hall said she transferred to UT after experiencing discrimination at Baylor University because of her sexual orientation, and she is doing her part to stand up against similar criticism of other gay students at UT.
She said that a nice thing about UT is the openness allowed among the LGBT community.

“Other students frequently told me to hide [before transferring], and administrators didn’t allow me to form an LGBT group,” said Hall, who is a co-director of StandOut, an LGBT group on campus. “I realized then that there’s a need to make a difference, and that there’s a lot of work to do.”

In an effort to gain allies in the movement for equality, StandOut invited everyone to its Ally Carnival on Thursday. The main goal of the event was to make friends in the UT community and set up a platform for positive queer activism, co-directors of the organization said.

Pre-pharmacy sophomore Taylor McCormick said he came out two months ago, primarily because of participation with StandOut and Delta Lambda Phi, a gay fraternity.

“I was very reclusive my whole life — so boring and sad,” McCormick said. “My life at UT has made me myself, so much more free and fun.”

In revealing his orientation to his parents, McCormick said he was surprised at how accepting they were.

“Never assume how people are going to react,” McCormick said. “You’d never dream that the most conservative can actually be the most accepting.”

Some people outside the LGBT community who attended the carnival took pictures with the organization’s members holding colored “ALLY” signs to show their support.

“With a growing majority that is accepting of gay marriage, we need to continue helping others sympathize with the gay community,” said Plan II and biology senior Katie Fife. “I really see why many feel this is the civil rights movement of the age.”

Fife, one of the co-directors of StandOut, said she feels the word gay is often used in a condescending manner, and that is a change the organization is also seeking.
After an anti-gay heckler was escorted away from the carnival by campus security, computer sciences junior Matthew Vogel said it is frustrating to see people discriminating.

“I was making valid arguments [to the heckler] and was willing to continue until security came,” Vogel said. “It’s okay though. I look around at the people here and I know there’s great support.”