Sunday’s issue of The [San Jose] Mercury News included a positive piece about the more recent practice of many colleges and universities to reach out to prospective queer students, “signaling… that they have gay-friendly campuses.” Stanford , for example, distributed a CD highlighting the university’s gay and lesbian resources to everyone it admitted this year; this fall, it also will launch a database of gay-friendly staff and faculty. Berkeley offers a web site listing all students, staff, instructors and alumni who are openly queer. And a Massachusetts college fair for gay youth pulled in 95 universities, more than twice the number of the previous year–on the flip side, a few colleges asked to be removed from the mailing list for the event, and one school was reported to have sent back something “negative.”
I have to admit that my own experience even twenty-some years ago was really quite positive, at least once I got to college. Given that consciously I identified through high school as asexual–since I didn’t feel secure enough to come out there and then–knowing about the presence or absence of Harvard’s gay and lesbian groups and other resources probably wouldn’t have made a difference to my having chosen to matriculate there. But the fact that it did have a fairly strong gay and lesbian presence, fairly easily available resources, and that it was a liberal environment more generally made my coming-out process once there a smooth, comfortable, and largely angst-free experience. I was also fortunate to have allied myself–unconsciously–with what turned out to be a group within the Glee Club–which I had joined–comprised largely of gay men. My very first exposure to out gay men was in the context, then, of a group with which I already had bonded, and which I saw was appreciated, respected and admired no less than any of the rest of the organization.