Why Ignorance Is Not Bliss
From the moment I’d been accepted at Grove City College, I was proud to be a Grover. I was proud of my school’s reputation, and I was proud of the values it stood for. For three of the four years that I was a student there, I fit right in. I understood my peers, and they understood me. We came from a common background, we Grovers. We were all smart, ambitious, hard-working, and most importantly of all, proudly Christian.
So imagine my surprise when, a few months ago, I found out that according to The Huffington Post, Grove City College is the second-least LGBT-friendly college in the nation. Boy was that a wake-up call.
When I first stumbled upon that HuffPost article, I immediately recalled an experience I’d had at GCC. One night, during my senior year, my roommate (who had been my roommate for two years already, so we were really tight) burst into our room, her face clearly demonstrating that she was upset.
“Tiffani, I joined the Gay-Straight Alliance group on campus,” she told me, rather quietly. Looking back, I can remember now that her tone was full of sorrow for the attitudes she’d seen on campus, and a conviction to make a difference.
At the time, though, I didn’t hear that. I just heard the words. I can’t really remember what I responded to her with, but I’m sure it included some sort of nervous laughter and a very insincere attempt to show support.
Looking back, now, I hate that I was so ignorant. If I knew then what I know now, I would have hugged my roommate. I would have told her I was so proud of her for advocating for those who undoubtedly felt oppressed on this campus. Heck, I may have even gone and joined too—although I’m not sure I would have been brave enough, even if I was armed with the knowledge I am now.
I shared this story about my roommate and the atmosphere on my campus because they both helped reveal something to me: ignorance is not bliss. Not in this case, anyway. Ignorance made me feel comfortable in an environment I should have been more critical of. Ignorance made me feel concern instead of admiration when I saw someone I knew come “out” on Facebook. Ignorance made me part of the problem that so many gays and lesbians face today in a culture that is largely intolerant of them.
I will not be ignorant anymore. If I have to bend over backwards to hear and seek to understand the stories of LGBT folk, I will. I do not want to contribute to the problem any longer.