Opinion: WKU is a culture of acceptance in the season of love


Jacob Parker

Around this time four years ago, I was preparing to graduate high school, I was packing for my move to Bowling Green and I was still pretending to be definitively straight.

Who I was came from a conservative small town in Kentucky, raised by the most strict and moral Christian standards. Who I was endured a name like ‘faggot’ by classmates in high school, some of whom are now classmates at this very university.

Who I was is a comedic retrospect at a homosexual who was laughably trying to prove he wasn’t into dudes. The thing is, I’m definitely into dudes. 

Even after four years, a small part of who I was still occasionally pops up to suggest that I sit down and shut my mouth.  One of those times is now, as I write this to be seen by an audience whose size I can’t begin to estimate.

When I was a kid, those feelings I didn’t understand terrified me. And when I understood what they were, what they meant and how that was going to shape my impending eternity after death… everything came together to form an insurmountable fear. 

My hometown of Madisonville didn’t present many opportunities to be out and proud. I saw how the few openly gay men were treated and it was something I didn’t want for myself. I very much still believed, at that point, I could choose to be straight and so could everyone else. 

After a few months of participating in the WKU culture and having “experiences,” I eased into the coming out stages, and things went surprisingly well. I didn’t lose any friends worth having and, for the first time, I really felt at home where I was living. My entire life and belief system underwent a dramatic shift. 

In the four years I’ve been here, WKU has been subjected to campus pride evaluations, hosted events for LGBT awareness and provided benefits for faculty involved in same-sex domestic partnerships. Those successes make me proud of this university. 

However, the state of Kentucky still has a long road ahead. Legalities aside, social consciousness and acceptance is imperative if this state wants to succeed. Bowling Green has the potential to join the other major cities in this state and lead the charge. Thanks to programs spurred and supported by members of this university, we’re on our way. 

So, with Valentine’s Day coming up, I anticipate the predictable onslaught of commercialism mixed in with the usual amount of lovers. The Hill is lucky enough to have couples of all types. I’m lucky enough to be one of them. 

This is not to say that you will ever see me snogging under the kissing bridge while the sun sets on Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend and I aren’t the romantic type and we definitely aren’t fans of extreme public displays of affection. 

In all honesty, we may just sit on the couch and watch “Dance Moms” on Netflix. We may take our dog on a walk through campus and we may stop at the steps of Van Meter to admire the view. We may even clasp hands while we do so. Thanks to Western, we have that option.