To no great surprise, Yale is not a difficult place to be gay. I urge you to come out — yes, it is scary and tedious — but it is also necessary and, in the final analysis, the only way to live. There is little to fear; our culture of relativism demands that enlightened people be tolerant of homosexuals, and no one at Yale dares buck that trend.
You can live a vibrant, carnal and fulfilling gay existence at Yale. But you cannot fall into it — you must make it for yourself. That is no different from life, but it is different from college, where we find ourselves almost forced into existing communities — the residential colleges, the political parties, the singing groups.
Those looking for a gay community per se will not find it at Yale. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Co-op is membership-less, leadership-less and lost; it does not know what to do with itself. Now that we are mainstream and need not apologize for existing, persecution can no longer make for a gay community.
A result of our apparent normality is assimilation. In the absence of a strong unifying force — what the LGBT Co-op used to be but is not any longer — sectarian groups like the Dramat, the Yale Political Union’s parties (not only the parties of the left), and singing groups serve as places for gay men and lesbians to meet socially. Those looking for sex, Rolling Stone magazine told us last year, need only go to gay.com Internet chat to find quick sex.
All this is a shame.
Particularly, this lack of a coherent community does nothing to help the enormous number of closet cases on this campus (they probably outnumber the openly gay population) emerge from the crippling closet and begin fully-productive lives.
Michael Boucai, TC ’02, goes even further. We are not simply losing out, he says, but shirking responsibility to our peers. Being at Yale “means taking a place at the front lines. We bear an ethical responsibility to lead the collegiate gay movement.”
But whether or not there exists some form of leadership within the gay community, the most important player in gay life is you. And the most important thing is coming out, because gay individuals will make up our gay community. “We cannot afford to delude ourselves into thinking that ‘gay’ refers to sexual acts and not to identity,” Boucai says. “We cannot mistake tolerance for acceptance, and interpret lack of hostility to be an outpouring of support.”
Still, there is hope. This year Jonathan Katz, a former professor of art history at Stony Brook College, arrives at Yale to lead the Larry Kramer Initiative, which aims to enhance gay life at Yale on both the academic and communal levels. The presence of professional leadership — committed to both a premier gay and lesbian studies curriculum in the classroom and vibrant gay life on campus — will certainly enhance the quality of gay life at Yale.
Davi J. Bernstein is a senior in Ezra Stile College.