Andrew Stuart & Harvey Ballard, Gay
Assistant Head Reference, University Libraries/Associate Professor, Environmental & Plant Biology
INVOLVEMENTS AT OU:
Andrew:Administrative Senate, SpeakOUT!, SafeZone, Out@Work UCM Board Directors and Library Diversity Committee.
Harvey : Faculty advisor for Open Doors and SpeakOUT! Andrew: Assistant Head Reference, University Libraries
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE OUT?:
Andrew: It's important to be out so that students and staff know that there are people they can turn to for support and information.
Harvey: The rest of the world needs an accurate, or somewhat accurate, understanding of the significant segment of the population that is not "straight". This is important simply in terms of sheer numbers. Also, the rest of the population really needs to be exposed to the whole universe of "life experiences" and issues and day-to-day activities of those of us who are not straight, so that the others can learn that we have the same problems, hopes, dreams and opportunities--or should have--as they do, and that beyond the few minor details that make us a little different, we're all fundamentally the same, and therefore deserve the same access to opportunities and responsibilities as they have.
WHY ARE YOU PROUD?:
Andrew: I'm most proud of my 26-year relationship with Harvey Ballard.
Harvey: I'm proud of my 26-year monogamous relationship with my sweetheart, Andrew Stuart. I'm also proud to be the father of a fine young man, Dave Robson and his wife Kim, and grandfather (with Andrew) to an adorable granddaughter Destiny and grandson "Little" David. I feel fortunate, too, to be held as a responsible and important member of the OU community and to the town of Athens, where we make our home and are integrated into the area.
WHAT WAS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART ABOUT COMING OUT?:
Andrew: The most difficult part of coming out is summoning the nerve to actually do it. Facing rejection or worse from the people who should accept and support you no matter what can be a daunting challenge to get over. It took a long time to work out how to go about coming out and then actually finding the right time and place to do it.
Harvey: Dealing with my family's disastrous expectations. They came around after about 8 years, but it was tough going for a while and I had to give up on ever having a meaningful relationship with them again. That took pressure off them to conform to MY expectations. They gradually learned to be at ease with who I really was.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WHO COME OUT?:
Andrew: Develop a strong support network of people who can help you with the process. Take time to become comfortable with yourself first. Don't go into a coming out situation without preparing for people’s reactions, both positive and negative.
Harvey: FIRST come out to all the people you feel pretty sure will give you the most love, understanding and support. Only after that, should you come out to the people who may be toughest, and pace yourself. It may take years to be ready to come out to the last ones (in my case the worst ones were family).Andrew: Develop a strong support network of people who can help you with the process. Take time to become comfortable with yourself first. Don't go into a coming out situation without preparing for people’s reactions, both positive and negative.
THOUGHTS FOR NON-LGBT PEOPLE ABOUT LGBT PEOPLE AND CONCERNS:
Andrew: LGBT folks are everywhere. They could be sitting next to you in class, in church or at work. They could be walking past you in the store or on the street. Don't be afraid of us.
Harvey: Make close friends with somebody who isn't straight, and get to know them really well. You'll find if you're open-minded and objective, that in all ways except minor details the other person is just like you. We're not scary, or weird, or deviant, or anything other than people who are attempting to live according to our conscience and gut. We are in fact, presumably just like you.Andrew: LGBT folks are everywhere. They could be sitting next to you in class, in church or at work. They could be walking past you in the store or on the street. Don't be afraid of us.