Images of M&Ms and Santa Claus danced through my head as I watched the season premiere of MTV’s “The Real World: Philadelphia.”
While the cast partied away in the requisite local bar, the only thing that came to mind was an M&M’s holiday commercial that plays 12,001 times in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The commercial features the first encounter of the life-size M&Ms and Santa. When they come into contact, Santa gasps, “They really do exist,” and proceeds to faint in shock.
As I watched a former FAMU student and the season’s token black guy – Karamo – lean over to one of his new roommates and whisper, “I’m gay,” I was floored.
The fact that there was a gay cast member is standard fare for “The Real World.” Even a gay black cast member is not surprising because of Aneesa from the series’ Chicago season.
The shock I experienced came from the mere fact that Karamo was a gay black male – who once attended Florida A&M University.
A population of students that FAMU has reserved to mere whispers and rumors of their existence will have to be acknowledged. The existence of the gay FAMU student is real and official whether we want to admit it or not.
This is a population that we know exists, but we choose to treat them as lepers or the dirty little secret that must only be mentioned in hushed tones or with disdain. But the truth remains that there is a segment of the FAMU population that we as an institution are willfully pushing into the background.
This is an issue that could easily be blamed upon a cultural tradition. Unfortunately, that is not a valid excuse because we are striving to be an educated population. With this goal in mind, historical ignorance and intolerance is not an acceptable excuse for being in a state of perpetual darkness.
I am not advocating that anyone join the gay rights’ movement or push legislation condoning gay marriage.
I am not even taking the baby steps to encourage anyone to be accepting or even tolerant of homosexuality on campus. What I am pushing for is the acknowledgement of this population. They exist and will continue to exist, so quiet denials and mocking tones are doing nothing but alienating a portion of our student body that have done no wrong to anyone – physically, mentally or emotionally.
Karamo will not change anyone’s perception of the gay population because of the nature of “The Real World.”
But hopefully, by the end of this season, FAMU can admit “They really do exist.”
Jason E. Hutchins is a senior business administration student from Athens, Ga. He is the opinions editor for The Famuan. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.