Ellen Andersen

Black Colleges Fail to Welcome Gay Students and Groups

Filed By Ellen Andersen | April 10, 2007 10:41 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: African-American, homophobic behavior, students, Universities

Tip o' the hat to Dan Pinello for this bit of news.

From the News Blog of the Chronicle of Higher Education:

April 9, 2007
Black Colleges Fail to Welcome Gay Students and Groups --Lawrence Biemiller

Gay students often feel unwelcome at historically black colleges, where homophobia may prevent classmates and administrators alike from acknowledging the presence of lesbians and gay men, reports the Associated Press.

The wire service says black colleges have a disproportionately small number of gay-student organizations, in some cases because the groups can't find faculty members willing to serve as advisers. Hampton University has twice refused to permit a gay-student group to form because of a moratorium on the number of student organizations.

A representative of the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group, told the AP that some historically black colleges were hostile to the idea of allowing groups of gay students to meet, while others denied having any gay students.

But the head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors in Memphis, Tenn., said black-college administrators "don't have to give a lot of reasons" for banning gay-student groups, because acceptance of homosexuality would be "a threat to the black family."

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I appreciate the post, but I think it's important to point out that this article shouldn't be interpreted as saying the entire African American comunity is homophobic. Community leaders like Coretta Scott King and Rev. Al Sharpton have been visibly "pro-gay." And historically, many African American artists/writers/leaders were also members of the LGBT community: Langston Hughes, James Baldwin . . .

I agree. I think that the issue of GSA's at HBCU's can highlight a major narrative: that Queer means white and Black mean heterosexual. Not true at all, but you have some of these administrators saying that they don't have any LGBTQ students on their campuses. The same thing as mainstream gay media whitewashing their magazine covers and TV show casts.

Allen J. Lopp | April 10, 2007 8:37 PM

To augment Serena's post, I'd like to add these nationally known, GLBT-supportive academics:

Dr. Cornel West of Princeton University;

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of the University of Pennsylvania; and

Honorary Dr. Maya Angelou, who has taught at multiple universities and has a lifetime chair at Wake Forest University (even though she does not have a standard college degree --- in other words, she's self-taught to function exceptionally at the Ph.D. level).

... And let's not forget to mention Rev. Jesse Jackson, who, with Sharpton, even stood up to Rev. Louis Farrakhan recently, insisting that Farrakhan's last Millions More March must include gay-positive speakers ... even though Keith Boykin, the most prominent speaker scheduled to represent the black SGL community, got barred from the podium at the last minute.

Also deserving of honorable mention: Rev. Professor Peter Gomes, Memorial Church, Harvard University (further credentials here); and Dr. James Alexander Forbes Jr., senior pastor at Riverside Church in New York City.

So we see that the situation in African-American academia is far from hopeless, and my opinion is that, as the years go by, it is slowly getting better.