The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, October 10, 1997, Page 16, Image 16

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    ‘ can you tell me who I am?’
c n. nit. r r-» rr i
LIFESTYLE from page 8
-lie high school did she find the
name “lesbian.”
At that point, she told herself,
“This is who I am,” she said. '
Without a gay contact to answer
questions, she spent hours research
ing gay lifestyles and issues in books.
Somewhere in those pages, she lost
her loneliness.
That year, she told a few high
school friends she was gay, and they
guarded her secret at school.
But she couldn’t justify lying
about her lifestyle to her parents, she
So before her 18th birthday,
Schultz told them.
My mom flipped out and said, 1
don’t want anyone going to hell
under my roof.’”
Then her dad threatened, “If you
kick her out of the house, I’m going
with her.”
Schultz rattled off her dad’s next
words, and the re-enactment seemed
to calm her.
“He said, ‘She’s our daughter.’”
She paused. “‘I love her.’”
Though her father’s support
helped, Schultz drank heavily for two
years to cope with the identity she
felt made her an outcast.
She started to drink alone and to
feel constantly sick from her habit.
One night, after an Alcoholics
Anonymous'commercial aired on
television, she threw all her liquor
“That was it I was done with it,”
she said. She needed tomove on in
her life.
Released from the haze of alco
hol, she began struggling to balance
a lesbian lifestyle with her funda
mentalist faith.
It s kind of like being a mixed
child ... trying to be gay and
Christian,” she said.
“I don’t know what I’d do without
God,” she said, but she cannot
squelch her life as a lesbian.
And the churches tell her,
“You’ve got these brown-colored
eyes, but don’t you dare look through
them,” she said. “You’ve got these
arms, but don’t you dare use them.”
Talking faster, she said she gets
angriest when people tell her she can
choose to stop being gay.
“Why would anyone in their right
mind choose to be this way in a soci
ety that steps on them?” she said.
Schultz wants those she left
behind in Seward to understand that
being gay is not a choice, and that
gay people live and work successful
ly in the community.
She wants to tell her church, and
she wants to tell her grandmother.
She sometimes daydreams of
entering “a big gay float” in Seward’s
Fourth of July parade and ending its
charade as “the white-bread commu
But, she said, “I don’t know if
wd’d make it through the parade
Jeffs story
Those interviewed said the
“white-bread” communities of
Nebraska significantly shape many
gay students’ visions of themselves
in society.
For Jeff Krotz, a UNL junior, the
community was Grand Island.
The community has become
more accepting since he left, he said,
but he endured a lot in high school.
Although he was well liked, his
short stature and feminine voice
placed him at the brunt of many
Resources and discussion groups for gay,
ftfemljlflE BEBBlB
and their friends and families.
University resources:
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Gay Lesbian Bisexual and
Transgender Resource Center
The center, in Nebraska Union Room 234, provides a safe, informal
gathering place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.
The center includes information on community services and events,
current periodicals and a collection of GLBT books, and is staffed by an
edupatiotial ^nd social studentorganization supportive of the campus’ gay
mSpmmumty. ' ’ ’ " " J V —
tg j ga i Ch^ck the center’s. Web site at http://www. uni. edu/lambda for infor
mation. , 0tS
■/I i I ' r. r. .
Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Discussion Group:
A safe place for lesbians, bisexual women and those questioning their
orientations to learn anH share experiences in an informal atmosphere.
The group meets Thursdays in the Nebraska Union. Call the Women’s
Center at 472-2597.
Gay Men’s Support Group:
A confidential discussion group meeting Wednesdays. Call Luis
Diaz-Perdomo at 472-7540 or the Rev. Phil Owen at 472-0355.
UNL Committee for Gay and Lesbian Concerns:
The committee serves as a forum for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans
gendered concerns at UNL. Call PatTetreault, 472-7447.
Local and national resources:
PFLAG - Lincoln Chapter:
Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays is a national orga
nization of both gay and straight people, established mainly to support the
family members of gay people. The 17-year-old Lincoln chapter is one of
the nation’s largest and meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month.
The group keeps a library of gay and lesbian resource material and
can refer those seeking counseling to gay-friendly therapists in the
Lincoln area.
All PFLAG members remain confidential, as do callers to its help and
information line at 434-9880. p
Lincoln Pride Network:
For a schedule of gay and lesbian events in Lincoln, call the confi
dential PFLAG help line at 434-9880.
^ ■ ,
Books and resources:
UNLs Love Library offers a significant resource material of gay and
lesbian issues. The Lincoln Public Library also is increasing its holdings
in this area.
The Nebraska Bookstore and Barnes and Noble Booksellers in
Lincoln also keep significant sections ofbooks on gay andlesbian issues.
r Stacy Schultz, UNLalufnna r
He admits he looked strange for a
Midwestern boy; he wore Madonna
T-shirts and was a visible AIDS
As a result, some students would
only talk to him outside of school.
Others responded by saying “fag” as
he walked down the hallways.
Four daring boys marched to his
desk and asked him “Are you gay?”
And, though he tried not to care
what others thought, the heckling
took its toll.
By his junior year in high school,
he sometimes stayed home from
school to escape the harassment
He tried dating a girl for six
months, in a last attempt .to fit in and
navmg a uudii uii ma iuaic uauy
sitter when he was in second grade
felt more natural, Krotz said.
“I thought we could get married
and have kids,” and he remembers
happily telling his mother.
In his youth, Krotz never felt
ashamed of his gay feelings, he said,
until his family watched a TV movie
about a gay son’s battle for his par
ents’ acceptance.
Krotz, still in elementary school,
asked his stepfather, “Why are they
being so mean to the son?”
“They’re doing something I could
never accept one of my sons doing,”
his stepfather said.
Krotz still managed to tell his
stepfather he was gay before his par
ents divorced during his senior year
in high school.
And as his stepfather left, he
spoke of Krotz: “He’s just a fa£:”
Krotz heard the hateful Words,
but he never heard an apology^
But Krotz’s mother never stopped
supporting him, he said.
l^ateiy, sne s oecome aimosi
enthusiastic. She tells family mem
bers Krotz is gay - some he said he
would never tell himself.
She also works in a window cov
erings store, where she tells gay
clients, “You know, my son is gay,”
just to break the subject.
Krotz laughed and shook his head
in a silent, “Can you believe my
But her support has been price
less, he said.
In January, for the first time, his
stepfather joined in that support.
Without an occasion, he called
Krotz to talk about his actions four
years before.
He said he was wrong, and he
said he was sorry.
Then he promised to accept Krotz
- including his lifestyle.
A continuing struggle
Krotz said ne likes to think he
made a difference in Grand Island.
_...... .
Many high school teachers
opened their lives to helping gay stu
dents before he left, he said. And the
community more readily accepts gay
students now.
No one should come out whose
life or livelihood would be endan
gered, he said.
But every new person who can
come out will further improve the
environmentfor other gays, he said.
“I think it’s one of the greatest
things in the world, to be able to show
who you are,” he said.
Gay students aren’t looking for
understanding - only enough accep
tance to live their lives without pre
tending, he said .
“If you’re not gay, how can you
tell me who I am?” Schultz said,.
adding she will never ask a straight
person to understand.
But she will ask they learn the
word “gay” signifies an entire cul
ture of people, not only a type of sex.
Ignorance of gay communities
fuels the hate and violence that
plague them nationwide, Schultz
Gay individuals endure many
hardships when they choose to
accept their sexuality, including the
ridicule of small-town classmates,
parents ’ rejection and the despair that
follows the “outcast” label .Those
who sacrifice will not let hatred scare
them back into the closet, she said.
“We owe it to ourselves” to stay
out, Knudsen said. “It's time to be [■