“Homosexuality is absurd and abnormal because I cannot accept the differences in the way the sexual minorities ‘lead’ their lives.” A student whom the Post interviewed two years ago shared her opinion on homosexuality in the article “A Closer Look at Queer Awareness.” According to the article of December, 2012, there were more students who were either negative or indifferent to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) issues. The sexually minor students are still leading their lives among many biased stares and discriminations. Fortunately for them, this year, a LGBT rights movement organization has been founded for the first time in the history of Dongguk University.
Bihaeng, or Bien for their English name, was founded by Kim You-jin, a student of Philosophy and Ethical Culture, and her friends. There have been various attempts in the past in different colleges to launch an LGBT right organization, but the plan foundered until this semester. Kim and her friends, together with the help from the General Girl Student Council, took a brave step forward. “We have been feeling the need of such organization’s existence in a university to protect and promote the awareness on homosexuality,” answered Kim in buoyant spirit. The members met up during the last semester of 2013 to specify the activities and identity of the organization.
“Bihaeng holds three different meanings. First is as the word literally means in Korean, ‘to fly.’ We thought that the sexually minor students needed a true liberation from the discriminations and shafts they received,” Kim explained the meaning behind the organization’s name. The second meaning is also derived from the second literal meaning of the word, which is “lost juveniles.” The members thought that the sexually denied students resembled the teenagers who grow up confused and often get drifted away from the “normal” group of teenagers. Bien, which is their English name that sounds similar to Bihaeng, is the third meaning of their organization that means “good” in both French and Spanish. The members came up with Bien in hopes of making the organization that provides security and stability to many homosexual students around campus.
There are only six members in Bien so far, as the organization carries difficulties in recruiting members. “It is difficult to actively promote Bien because homosexuality is the topic we have to approach with extra guardedness,” said Kim. The organization is composed of both homosexual and non-homosexual students whom are both equally eager and interested in improving the misled perceptions on LGBTs. Kim accentuated the fact that Bien pays extra effort in guaranteeing the anonymity of its members. “The most important aspect is to provide the feeling of secureness for anyone who joins our organization. We do not want anyone to experience discomfort in being with us.”
Bien’s goal for this semester is to solidify their stance and receive recognition from the school as an official independent LGBT rights movement organization. In order for the plan to be carried out well, the most urgent agenda is to recruit more members. Meanwhile, the members must bear the inconvenience of having no space and support from the school. “For an organization to operate properly, a space must be assured. As we do not have our own space, we gather up here and there, sometimes borrowing the General Girl Student Council’s office.” Kim said financial support is also one of the problems that needs to be solved urgently. Currently, they receive support from graduated students‚ who are already in the working force, but it is far from enough to carry out the activities they are planning.
As Bien’s ultimate goal is to promote a healthy awareness of LGBTs, they plan on carrying out various campaigns around campus. The specific plans are not out yet, as the organization was just launched this semester. “Although the plans are not concrete, we wish to hold a cultural festival like the one Ewha Women’s University’s ‘Byunnal’ annually holds,” said Kim with an enthusiasm.
Regardless of how rapidly South Korea has grown economically from the past, it seems our society is still undergoing growing pains. An acceptance of what is understood as social odds is a task that must eventually be solved, for no human must tolerate discrimination and injustice. “A truly mature society is where everyone is equally treated with respect. If a minority is robbed of their basic rights, no one in such society can be guaranteed of his or her rights as well,” Professor Lee Han-mae of Sociology commented on how a healthy society must run. It is the duty of younger generation to keep progressive thoughts in mind and sustain the authentic meaning of humanism.
Lee So-young firstname.lastname@example.org
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