Column: It’s important to learn from experiences

Janet Pernell, Staff Reporter

I learned another a tough life lesson this past weekend.

Recently, I wrote an article for The Daily Eastern News about the “Big Gay Panel” last Thursday night.

In the article, I mistakenly used the word “lifestyle” to refer to LGBT identities.

Initially, I was totally unaware that using that word would be offensive to the LGBT community.

I truly apologize to people in the LGBT community and others who were uncomfortable when reading my article.

I’m planning on doing a Safe Zone training to ensure this won’t happen again.

When it was brought to my attention, my heart was pounding.

I felt like I forgot what my morals were when it came to respecting others and myself.

This is not the first time things like this have been addressed to me, and I put them to an end.

I learned that using the word “lifestyle” in regards to the LGBT community implies that sexual orientation is a choice, and a person can change or can be changed.

However, someone’s sexuality is not a choice. It is their identity. I understand that LGBT rights is another civil rights issue that’s trending today.

People in the LGBT community want acceptance like everyone else.

People in the LGBT community are human beings like me and you.

Everyone is different, which makes each and every one themselves.

I thought being an ally would consist of respecting people of the LGBT community just like everyone else, giving them acceptance, using the appropriate pronoun, giving the respect that you would give anyone else, and attending Pride every year in Chicago.

But there is more to it than that. You must know how to approach and speak on situations without hurting others.

Because I grew up in a conservative Christian family on my mother’s side, I was not too comfortable with discussing the LGBT community.

My dad’s side wasn’t familiar with the community, but they were more open to people in the LGBT community and still respected them.

If I asked, I wouldn’t get answers about the community other than “please pray for them,” and “please don’t you turn gay.”

As I grew up, I started to just ignore that and try to learn by life and observe, and I still have a long way to go.

Everyone is different and people have different preferences about what you call them that need to be accommodated to ensure respect, trust and comfort.

Yes, I was getting emails left and right about my article, but that was fine.

I’m glad I received emails about that because I would still think the word “lifestyle” would be appropriate to use when it is not.

I will continue to write for The News and even hope to promote to another position within my college career someday to educate other aspiring journalists.

Janet Pernell is a freshman journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].