October 24, 2013
It is hard to believe that just four years ago there was no Out & Ally List at Hamilton. While the Hill was not necessarily a hostile place in 2010, one cannot ignore the increase in public acceptance for the LGBTQ community that the ever-expanding Out & Ally List has engendered. There were 350 names on the inaugural Out & Ally List in 2011, 573 names on the 2012 list and 895 names on the list this year. The number of signatures on this year’s list represents a 156% increase in participation since 2011. Hamilton’s 2013 Out & Ally List had more signatories than Syracuse University’s You are Not Alone List—a surprising statistic not only because Syracuse’s enrollment is over 10 times the size of Hamilton’s, but because Director of Diversity & Inclusion Amit Taneja brought the idea from the university when he arrived at Hamilton three years ago.
Increasing communal support for those of all sexual orientations goes hand-in-hand with Hamilton’s official promise to its students to “be accepted for who you are and for what you believe.” Moreover, as Taneja astutely noted in an Oct. 20, 2011 interview with The Spectator, “These lists give visibility and hope to people who are in the closet, folks who are struggling with or questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, folks who might feel really lonely.” It is our duty as members of a small community to reach out to those who are struggling the most, and the Out & Ally List helps advance that goal.
Of course, the Out & Ally List is, at the end of the day, just a list. What matters far more than signing one’s name on an annual list is acting in the spirit of compassion and tolerance on a day-to-day basis. Keep in mind that some of the people who might need the most support are those who still do not feel comfortable enough in the community to sign such a public list.
Nonetheless, limits to lists notwithstanding, the grassroots growth of the Out & Ally initiative has been impressive and inspiring. The two most important organizations behind the effort—the Days-Massolo Center and the Rainbow Alliance—deserve praise for spreading the word about the Out & Ally list to Hamiltonians both on and off the Hill. Amit Taneja, the man who brought this idea to Hamilton three years ago, is due particular commendation.