Love Wins

After the Supreme Court decided on the Obergefell vs. Hodges case on June 26, also known as the same sex marriage equality case, some believe that the fight for LGBT+ rights is over. But to others, both members of the LGBT+ community and non-members, the fight for rights is just getting started.

Illustration by Alex Solecki

Illustration by Alex Solecki

Alexandra Sharp & Anne Marie Yurik, co-features editors


The term LGBT+ is an abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual and other sexual orientations. In an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey of 169 students, 14.79 percent consider themselves part of the LGBT+ community. For one member, junior Dasha German, acceptance of her sexuality has not always been easy; she encountered bullying when she realized she was bisexual in middle school.

“I’ve heard about people who have complained that I’m “too gay” and that’s not cool,” German explained. “I heard that when I was younger, and before […] it was more like a fear [that] somebody knows. Now it’s more like a painful thing, because now that’s a part of who I am.”

Although senior Nick Oh is not a supporter of LGBT+ rights, contrary to German’s experience, he expressed that he would never discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation and preference. According to Oh, being a Christian has influenced his beliefs that love should only be between a man and a woman, but he wants people to acknowledge that, like him, not all Christians discriminate against the members of the LGBT+ community.

“Some [forms of Christianity] are just wrong,” Oh said. “Like [in] the South, [where Christians are] beating up gay people because they’re gay, that’s just morally wrong. […] The only reason why I’m doing this interview is so people understand that not all Christians want to kill gays. Some of them just want to leave them be. We know it’s a sin. We just want to help them get rid of it. [We are] not [trying] to be offensive to their love interest.”

Like German, French teacher Matt Bertke faced LGBT+ discrimination while teaching in his former school. Before working at South, Bertke said that he was harassed by students who repeatedly called him “faggot”, and by the administration for not enforcing any policies to stop it. However, at South, Bertke found a more accepting and encouraging staff and student community.

“At Glenbrook South […] it doesn’t feel like an issue for me,” Bertke said. “Staff are supportive. Students don’t even seem to care. […] I don’t hear Hazing in the hallways. I don’t hear people mocking each other. Just because I don’t hear it, that does not mean it’s not going on. But at least students are being respectful around me, and so that is huge. […] Our human resources department provides health insurance for partners, even before the marriage laws were passed. [It] provides parental leave for adoptions, so […] even the human resources department is hugely supportive.”

Coming Out

Despite these early challenges, Bertke eventually came out as gay to his friends at age 21 and to his family two years later. According to Bertke, the time lapse between family and friends was due to overall fear of criticism, especially coming from a devout Catholic family. With all these concerns in mind, Bertke still chose to come out because he felt his sexual orientation would always be the same whether or not he decided to tell his family and friends.

“[Coming out was] terrifying and liberating all at the exact same time,” Bertke said. “It’s scary because you don’t know how people are going to react. […] But at the same time, there is no more hiding. There is no more lying. There’s no more going behind people’s backs. It’s very freeing.”

In contrast to how Bertke feels, Oh believes that people can choose whether or not to be a part of the LGBT+ community. According to Oh, he believes people aren’t born LGBT and are rather turned into it, and that there are ways to fight the feeling, such as by staying away from same sex relationships. In Oh’s view, which he claims stems from the Bible, fighting the LGBT+ feeling will secure a person a place in heaven, but immediately accepting the LGBT+ lifestyle will send them to hell.

“According to my religion, being gay is a sin, and if you’re a sinner, you go to hell,” Oh said. “But according to me, Jesus [Christ] died for our sins so our sins are forgiven. So what I believe is that as long as you’re fighting it, [you] will go to heaven. So like some people, they just can’t help but be gay, […] but as long as they’re fighting it, like trying not to be gay, then they won’t be. […] The sad truth is [that if they’re not fighting it], then yeah, [they would go to hell] probably.”

Acknowledging both Bertke’s and Oh’s view, Katrina Prockovic, sponsor of Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), believes that being LGBT+ can be a choice for some and an innate part of their being for others.

“Certainly over the last several decades, the idea that [this] is how you are born is a very important part of the LGBT push for equal rights,” Prockovic said. “The idea that this is who we are; we’re born this way. I also want to say, though, that I think it’s normal and healthy for people to experiment, and some of that might be a choice.”

However, according to, the scientific community has not formulated an answer about the topic thus far.

Marriage Ruling + Acceptance

Whether being LGBT+ is a choice or something a person’s born with, junior Kenny McMahon supports any person’s sexual orientation. However, McMahon does not support same sex marriage due to his Christian background, as written in an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey.

“Although I support those that are gay, and they do deserve to have the same rights as married couples, […] I feel like marriage is a holy sacrament with God, and God says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman,” McMahon wrote in the survey. “Therefore, I do not feel it is right to consider it marriage. Just give it a different name.”

In contrast to McMahon, Jess Melchor, GSA co-president, was overjoyed on the results of the same sex marriage ruling.

“I follow all these people on Twitter, so I was getting all my text notifications, and people were like, ‘Wow. Way to go, America,’ and I was so confused,” Melchor said. “So I opened up all these links and it was [that] […] [same-sex marriage was] legal for all 50 states, and it was so so beautiful. […] I started crying in the bathroom […] I was so happy.”

With this in mind, Melchor realized the new possibilities for the future. Prior to the ruling, Melchor feared not being able to experience her best friend’s wedding, who is bisexual. With the new law, Melchor knows that their marital opportunities are one and the same.

“[My friend] will now be able to get married, which is a huge deal,” Melchor said. “And it’s kind of sappy and nice to think about; that I’ll actually be able to be a part of my best friend’s wedding. Before all this, it was kind of like a “what if” type of deal. That’s just not a good feeling at all because she’s […] my best friend. She deserves to be happy doing whatever she wants. It’s really nice to be able to be there for her, and [watch] her experience milestones that I would have been able to do.”

Although Melchor’s fear never turned into a reality, for Bertke, this was a problem he faced. Bertke and his husband were forced to get married in Iowa because Illinois had not legalized same sex marriage in the year 2012, when they decided to get married. Although Bertke felt that marriage just needed love to be true, his husband felt that it was important to have the legal documentation for both the title, and the economic benefits that come with being married.

“I’m very philosophical about these sorts of things,” Bertke said. “It’s kind of like, well, what is marriage? Marriage is a commitment between two people, so screw it if the government doesn’t want me to be married. If both of us believe we’re married, then we’re married. And he is very much […] like, ‘No but it’s not fair. It’s not really marriage. What is this?’ And so he really wanted that certified stamp of approval and really was pushing for it.”

According to Prockovic, acceptance of the LGBT+ community is not hard to achieve, because anyone is capable of understanding and coming to terms with the LGBT+ community regardless of race, or generational gaps. She has seen this personally through her father, an 80-year-old immigrant.

“I saw my dad, who probably started off pretty homophobic in his life, […] actually change his mind,” Prockovic continued. “And he did it with thought. He did [it] organically. He did it because he saw as a human being it actually makes sense, and welcoming all people doesn’t harm anyone. So to me, seeing that my dad, this older guy born in a different time and place, could evolve in his thinking, that just gives me hope that everyone can and also, frankly, I expect that everyone should. It’s time.”

German has seen a similar change in her life, but on a larger scale. Particularly within South, she has seen the acceptance of the LGBT+ community and their rights expand.

“We as a country and as a community are starting to […] accept all of these things and learn more about them, and more importantly, let ourselves learn,” German explained. “Because before it would be like “Yeah, gay people exist. Moving on.” Now it’s more like “Yeah, they exist. They face problems. Let’s help.’”

To read a column on this topic, click here: