We are stronger than hateful posters when we stand together

By Ryan Cooper

I’ve been through this before. I’ve stood in the protests and I’ve yelled until my throat felt raw. I’ve been targeted and beaten and kicked to the ground. I’ve had my car vandalized, I’ve had bottles thrown and I’ve had knives drawn on me. Despite the pain, despite the horror, despite all of the hatred that I have witnessed, I remain.

I remain today because I have already seen rock bottom and I picked myself back up. The members of Fascist Solutions have requested for people like myself to “follow [my] fellow f—–s” and commit suicide, but I’ve already attempted that. I’ve tried to do that three times between 2009 and 2014. I still have nightmares once or twice a month of being in the hospital, listening to the screaming and the crying and the yelling from those in who have had to live with emotional and psychological agony only to have it bubble up and surface as self-harm and endangerment. I have attempted suicide because of the pain of being ostracized and the depression and anxiety that causes to grow. My arm still bears the scars of being hacked at with a straight razor. The criss-cross hacking of flesh relieved more pain than it caused. It’s the emotional pain that hurts the most. The feeling of isolation. The feeling of loss. The feelings of confusion and guilt that I have had to live with since I was a child. Every time I chopped at my arm, those feelings lifted, and I was left with only myself. Myself. In the now. In the present. Surviving.

I’ve been through this before, and to my brothers and sisters of the LGBTQ community, to my Viking allies and supporters, to members of Fascist Solutions and those who remain in the shadows, I can say that we will not back down. We will rise, we will survive, and we will thrive. We must rally against these posters because this is how it starts: if we give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. The school must not allow this sort of speech as it may not be hate speech at the moment, but it toes the line and legitimizes these opinions.

At the moment, these posters are painful. They represent decades of problems that our community has had to deal with, and generations of shared hate. However, I’ve been through worse. Yes, it hurts, and yes, it feels like a personal attack, but we must remember that these are merely words on paper from sad people who do not have the strength, your strength, to come to the light and show their faces. We are stronger than them. You are stronger than them. You have come out of the closet, you have friends and allies, brothers and sisters of the family, counselors and staff members who all support you and want you to feel safe. What do they have? Shallow opinions and weak arguments. Yes, it could lead to more if members of the university ignore the posters, but I look at my fellow Vikings, and I am proud to see the public outrage that has come from this. There is no reason for fear because we are Vikings, and Vikings stand together.

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