Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Shining Light On Oppression

Jenny Arundel

The topic of homosexuality has rapidly been taking over many headlines as of late. To date, there are 23 countries in which same-sex marriage is legal. With the United States being one of the most recent additions to the list, hearing about the rights of homosexual people is becoming more prominent.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in the US was embarking on its process in the courthouse and was only made legal until very recently. Before the final legalization was official, it seemed that more and more people were supporting the issue.

Just before the legalization, a Huffington Post article declared that an astounding record of 60 percent of Americans said they supported the legalization of same-sex marriage. According to the article, the shift in measured support over the years was highly significant.

"In fact, the shift in approval is one of the 'fastest changes ever measured' by the General Social Survey, which has measured trends in American public opinion for the last 40 years."

The article continues to document how the numbers showing support had not only grown as a whole, but even had grown across the political spectrum as well, showing growth in not only the democratic and independent parties, but in the republican party as well.

When the issue was finally legalized, news outlets everywhere covered the story and offered ethical coverage despite the somewhat controversial topic. This act of news outlets and their desire to uphold ethics no matter what the topic may be is something that is common in the US, though not so common in other places.

Though 60 percent may not seem like a large enough number to other supporters of the issue, it is certainly much more than other countries have, and perhaps may ever have.

When reading about the struggles of the self-identified Muslim homosexual, Parvez Sharma, it became evident just how much work there is left to do about this issue. Along with going against the Muslim religion for identifying as gay, Sharma also defies the Muslim culture by practicing film-making.

In his efforts to become a better Muslim in his own eyes, Sharma traveled to Saudi Arabia to document his hajj, a journey to Mecca that every well-practiced Muslim goes on at least once in their life. Sharma's hajj was significant because he intended to complete it as an openly gay Muslim; all while filming the ordeal.

Reading about and listening to his accounts during his journey was shocking to learn. In a culture where 60 percent of support seemed like a huge upset to some Americans, how are people like Sharma supposed to cope with support that is essentially non-existent at 0 percent?

After asking myself this question, I think oppressed homosexuals should be seen as heroes and even more specifically in the case of Sharma, some of the greatest journalists.

Sharma rose above the oppression he faced for not only his own beliefs, but for the belief that news exists so it can be reported in a fair and ethical manner. He saw an opportunity to create a film that showed the "real side of Saudi Arabia" and showed the viewers what the country did not want the public to see.

This act by Sharma is one that should be praised on many levels. Though not everyone has the means or the opportunity to document their inner struggles as an oppressed individual, I believe that just staying true to one's identity is heroic enough.

Photo of Parvez Sharma via http://wp.production.patheos.com/

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