Today’s article in the scene section marks the end of the Yale Daily News’ four-part series on gay life at Yale. The mere existence of the series is in some small way a testament to the progress that this campus has made toward accepting and supporting gay rights, but it also reveals a new character to the culture of homosexuality at the University.
Decades ago, few homosexuals at Yale dared to reveal their sexuality for fear of social ostracism or worse. Gay students and professors were forced to lead their social lives in out-of-the-way bars or remote locations of libraries and gymnasiums.
Today, Yale is the host of a national coming out day, and numerous lesbian, gay and bisexual interest groups flourish in the campus extracurricular scene. The formation of the Women and Gender Studies Department and the Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale shows that the University’s commitment runs far deeper than student social circles. In nearly all ways, the acceptance of homosexuality at Yale today is far greater than almost anywhere else in the nation.
When we embarked on this series, we expected to come across all of the above. After all, Rolling Stone wrote a story about homosexual life at Yale, and on more than one occasion the University has been dubbed, “The Gay Ivy.”
But we now know there is far more to gay life than merely tolerance and acceptance. Yale is no longer a battleground for gay rights and activism. Instead, it is the social laboratory to investigate the next era of questions about homosexuality.
The tension between homosexuality and religion is one with which many struggle, whether they are religious, gay or both. And the relationship between academia and homosexuality, both about what is taught and who teaches it, has become an ongoing theme in the University’s scholarly discourse.
In many ways, the narrative being written at Yale is no longer one about whether gays can or should fit into our society, but rather the story of how homosexuality does fit into our society and how societal factors affect what it means to be gay.
While we hope our series served its role to shed some light on those issues at Yale, it also reinforces the sad truth that Yale is an anomaly when it comes to gay life and gay rights. Many communities around the nation are still struggling with the issues Yale resolved long ago.
But while local triumphs should not blind us to national problems, we should also not forget to capitalize on the luxuries of a liberal campus. Nor should the successes blind us to the subtler gaps in the Yale community’s ostensible tolerance.
In retrospect, the title of this series — “Gay at Yale” — was perhaps too simple. For if there is one thing we discovered, it is that there is no typical queer here. The University’s gay community is complicated and fragmented.
With that in mind, we hope that this series will serve as the jumping-off point for a new and open dialogue about homosexuality at Yale today. If the University is to remain as progressive on the issue as it has recently become, the entire Yale community must engage in uninhibited and, if necessary, critical introspection.