COMMUNITY NEWS Volume 1, Number 4
December 1993

        COMMUNITY NEWS  Volume 1, Number 4  December 1993

        A Newsletter for the lesbian, bisexual, and gay community
          and supporters at Columbia University and Affiliates
DECEMBER EVENTS CALENDAR & CONTACTS November 30 (Tuesday) AIDS Memorial Service, for all those at Columbia and world-wide who have died of AIDS. 5 pm, St. Paul's Chapel. December 1 (Wednesday) World AIDS Day/Day Without Art. A day to remember those with HIV/AIDS and to plan ways to work towards a cure. Wear a "Silence = Death" button or a red ribbon. For information on campus events, contact Ken Harlin at 854-1501 ( * Bi Weekly: A discussion group for bisexuals. Call Toni Eng at 853-5022 for more information. 8 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 2 (Thursday) CU Seminar on Homosexualities: "Something Queer about the Nation: Sexual Transgressions of National Narratives in North African Literature." Presenter: Jarrod Hayes, CUNY Graduate School. 7:30 pm, 1512 IAB. 3 (Friday) Lesbian/Gay Studies Group: "Theologizing the Erotic/Eroticizing Theology," with the Rev. Carter Hayward. 4 pm, 754 Schermerhorn Extension. * Queer Films and Filmmakers: "The Dead Boys Club," directed by Mark Christopher. 8-10 pm. * LBGC First Friday Dance. 10 pm, Earl Hall. 5 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 6 (Monday) Coordinators' Meeting. 8 pm, Law 6W1. 7 (Tuesday) Lesbigay Community Holiday Party. Refreshments & more! 5-8 pm, Location to be announced. 8 (Wednesday) LABIA Meeting. 8 pm, 204 Sulzberger (Barnard). 9 (Thursday) LBGTC Meeting. Maybe a film too. 9 pm, 177 Grace Dodge Hall (Teachers College). 11 (Saturday) JAGL Hanukkah Party. Call Tani Meir at 853-1917 ( for time and location. 12 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 14 (Tuesday) Lambda Health Alliance Holiday Party. All are invited. 6 pm, 11th Floor Lounge, Bard Hall. 15 (Wednesday) Bi Weekly: A discussion group for bisexuals. Call Toni Eng at 853-5022 for more information. 8 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 16 (Thursday) GABLES-CU Monthly Meeting. 5:30-7 pm, 628 Kent Hall. 18 (Saturday) LBGTC Potluck/Holiday Party. Time and location to be announced. Call Ed Falterman at 678-0884 for more information. * Third Saturday Dance. 10 pm-2 am, Earl Hall. 19 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. Call 854-1488 to confirm. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! January 19 (Wednesday) Lesbigay Community Meeting. 5:30-7 pm, Location to be announced. January 27 (Thursday) GABLES-CU Monthly Meeting. 5:30-7 pm, 628 Kent Hall. Key: GABLES-CU--Gay, Bisexual, & Lesbian Employees & Supporters JAGL--Jewish Activist Gays and Lesbians LABIA--Lesbian And Bisexuals In Action LBGC--Columbia/Barnard Lesbian Bisexual Gay Coalition LBGTC--Lesbians, Bisexuals, & Gays at Teachers College "COMMUNITY NEWS" CONTACTS Events: John Rash, 678-3779; Features: E. R. Shipp, 854-7571; Mailing list: Steve van Leeuwen; 854-3078;


As long as some of our Columbia colleagues feel free to leave hate-spewed messages on our answering machines, scrawl insulting graffiti on walls, and tear up lesbigay posters, or when groups like the KKK feel free to sponsor a nationally advertised "gaybashing" (see On the Road, page 2), then our community must be ever vigilant. Since last spring the Homophobia Task Force has been carrying on part of that work at Columbia. The Task Force emerged in response to Marsha Wagner's unsettling presentation at the May 1993 meeting of GABLES. At that meeting Wagner, the University Ombuds Officer, described recent homophobic incidents and suggested means of reducing homophobia and heterosexism. Galvanized by her words, Task Force members decided that one of our priorities would be to revise University policy statements and documents to include protection against discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation. We were surprised, but certainly heartened, to discover that these protections were already in print--in many cases since the 1980s. While this was very encouraging news, we also realized that most members of the University community--lesbigay as well as straight, students as well as employees--were not well informed about the policies. Since the summer the Task Force has met with senior University administrators, including Rosalind Fink (Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action), Rosalyn Hantman (Training and Personnel Development), Mercedes Ravelo (Security), and Kathryn Croft (Campus Programs). Commenting on the significance of the Task Force, Wagner recently said: "So many people encounter homophobia and think (1) there's nothing to be done, (2) if we can't identify the offender, we have no choice but to keep silent, or (3) it's inevitable and we have to live with it. This is an example of how speaking up alerts the entire University community that this is a problem. It enlists a lot of people in opposing homophobia, provides options for targets of the offensive conduct, and offers group solidarity and constructive bonding activity for those who are offended by it. It also puts the offender on notice that this unacceptable behavior is being reported, recorded, and investigated and that this kind of conduct is unwelcome at Columbia." The Task Force's efforts to encourage the reporting of incidents and an appropriate response to these incidents were reinforced in mid-August when the Security Department promised that all incidents would be fully investigated in a University-wide memo on Bias Incidents (see article in the October issue of Community News). More recently the Task Force has agreed to serve as a clearinghouse on homophobia incidents. All are invited to contact any member of the group listed below, and if you consent, the Task Force will include a description of the incident in a proposed monthly listing. Another Task Force project is to use posters and other published materials to educate the public on homophobia. We welcome your ideas and recommendations both for ways we can develop our own posters and other materials we might acquire. The Task Force is also discussing diversity training, orientation programs for new employees, and methods of establishing and maintaining communications with different segments of the University community. During this semester we have been meeting on the second Friday of each month. Meetings are open to all. To report incidents, make suggestions, or ask questions, contact Marsha Wagner, the Ombuds Officer (854-1234; and/or any of the following Task Force members: Annie Barry (854-3219; ab14), Debbie Bell, (304-5224; deb2), Ken Harlin (854-1501; harlin), Ed Mannix (854-8313; ejm5), and Steve van Leeuwen (854-3078; svl2). - Debbie Bell, E.R. Shipp



How many times have I wondered: "Just who is this Peter Awn?" How many times has his name been bandied about when the topic of out professors arises? Let's face it; he's the queer faculty poster boy. For those who don't know the man behind the reputation--and I sure didn't--here is a little background: Born in Brooklyn 42 years ago and educated at Fordham, Woodstock, and Harvard, Peter went from the Jesuit priesthood to the Columbia University faculty, where he has been since 1978. A tenured professor in the Department of Religion, he is one of those teachers who is here because he really enjoys his work and the chance to interact with students. "[Teaching] keeps you in touch with people at a stage in their lives when they really are putting their worlds together. It keeps you thinking about who you are, where you've come from and what you're doing." But Columbia is not his entire life. "What I love is being able to teach at an absolutely topnotch institution and still being able to walk out the front door at the end of the day and have a life of my own," he said. When he began teaching at Columbia, Peter didn't care whether or not others knew he was gay. Now he thinks it is absolutely imperative that people know. In his department, he has not run into anti-gay bigotry, but acknowledged that "in some departments it's clearly an issue." Peter personally became more involved with campus issues because of the silence here about AIDS. "This enormous pool of talented wonderful people just sort of disappeared with no recognition and no awareness at all," he said of those who have died. He began to seek ways he "could make the community more of a presence on campus." What particularly disturbs him is the chasm between faculty and students. "The older I get, the less I have any sense of really what the needs are of the undergraduates," he said, adding that too often faculty members are not even asked to get involved in lesbigay community activities. "I think if people were asked, they would do it," he said. Peter urges stronger connections across the lines that divide us, whether they be age or academic specialities. Just as he had a hand in the creation of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, Peter is now working with other scholars to fully develop gay and lesbian studies at Columbia. What's exciting, he said, is that more and more scholars with expertise in gay and lesbian studies are coming to Columbia and are joining together to try to develop the curriculum. Peter expressed much interest in the formation of a Queer Center at Columbia. We agreed that this was a project to which a proposed alumni group could give a lot of help, whether in professional advice, external pressure on the University, or financial contributions. Peter and I agreed on a lot of things. One of them was our love for the city. He said he couldn't really imagine leaving Columbia in the near future. Between his friends in New York and his family, most of whom live in New Jersey, he has planted roots. In a university that sometimes seems as if it has the turnover rate of a fast food restaurant, this bodes well for both the queer and straight communities. All in all, we had a great talk. It's cool to know that despite our differences--our ages, the time in our lives that we came out, our professional aspirations (or, in his case, successes)--we connected on a lot of issues as one queer to another. This is an important lesson to remember, as we work together and listen to each other to build a cohesive and embracing community. - Conor Kennedy Ryan


When we saw that the Far Right had planned something called "Gaybash '93" in New Hope, Pa., there was no way that the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Coalition (LBGC) could ignore the challenge. We pulled together a campuswide response to this blatant attempt to incite and validate violence against lesbigays and, calling ourselves the "Coalition to Fight the Right," undertook a 12-hour journey last month to secure the dignity of queers across this country. What we learned, however, was how not to get to New Hope (we were given poor directions!) and, alas, how splintered the Left is. What follows is an account of that odyssey. Some sixteen LBGC members drowsily left our beds at 7 am while recovering from the previous night's dance. Twelve of us piled into a seven-passenger van; four others rode with members of the International Socialists Organization and the Barnard-Columbia Students for Choice (BCSC). Altogether some fifty members of Columbia's Coalition to Fight the Right headed for New Hope to track down the Ku Klux Klan. We had assumed that the five vans from Columbia would travel caravan-style for the 90-minute drive, but as soon as we got on the West Side Highway, we lost two vans. We lost another one somewhere on the New Jersey Turnpike. The two-van caravan got lost for the next few hours, when we in the LBGC van decided to ditch the other one (whose drivers had given us the bad directions in the first place) and place our fate in the hands of two native Pennsylvanians who were onboard. After more than four hours on the road, we finally arrived at the beautiful and gay-friendly town of New Hope, where we encountered a brigade of police officers who blocked the main entrance to the Washington Crossing State Park, the site of the demonstration. At another entrance a vexed police officer asked which demonstration we wished to attend--"the violent one or the peaceful one." Concerned about our safety, we replied in unison, "the peaceful one." But concerned about the missing van and other queers, we asked how violent "the violent one" was. With a look of desperation, he told us: "People are getting their butts kicked." Driving around for another mile, we free-associated our shared image of hundreds of militant queers and socialists engaged in brutal battle with hundreds of white supremacists and homohaters. Reality was much less dramatic. There hadn't been a battle at all, merely some minor rock throwing by the 35 Klan members and neo- Nazis. A small river separated them from the 100 protesters on our side. The most violence may have come from a straight radical group, which decided to beat up three white supremacists who happened to be standing peaceably on the wrong side of the river. As we left the tumultuous scene, we caught sight of the other vans. Heading back to New York through the hills of Pennsylvania, we were in awe of the large patches of green and the vibrant colors of falling leaves along our route. But it was good to get back to the Columbia-Barnard campuses, the community we know and love. - Catina R. Alexander, Lyris Hung


Last spring a conference for young progressive Jews, sponsored by Tikkun magazine, was held at Columbia. At one point during the conference, the participants split up into working groups, one of which was for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Jews. Those of us gathered there got to talking about our desire for a framework in which lesbigay Jews could be politically and socially active. Although some of us were involved with Congregation Beth Simchat Torah (CBST), the lesbian and gay synagogue in the Village, we wanted more than that institution could offer. Thus was born JAGL- -Jewish Activist Gays and Lesbians. Too often, when Jews come out of the closet, they feel that they must give up their Jewish identity. This is understandable, considering that there is a tradition in the Jewish community of denying the very fact that gay and lesbian Jews exist. This abandoning of part of one's identity is often a painful process that scars the individual for life. One of JAGL's goals is to combat homophobia among Jews through education, thus making it easier for gays and lesbians to come out in the Jewish community. Conversely, JAGL hopes to provide Jewish lesbians, gays, and bisexuals with a context where they can be proud to be both Jewish and queer. Finally, by being visible as Jewish queers, we hope to combat the anti-Semitism that unfortunately also exists in the lesbigay community. JAGL's first action arrived without warning last May, when CBST was suddenly denied permission to march in the Salute to Israel Parade. We mobilized our forces to organize a protest along the parade route; although CBST decided not to protest the decision openly, we felt that it was imperative to be visible at the parade itself. Many people, both gay and straight, joined the demonstration and showed support. People are starting to realize that we queer Jews will simply not accept the ignorance and rejection that we have been faced with. Over the summer, a bunch of JAGLers went to Camp Kutz, a Reform sleepaway camp, to conduct a workshop on gay, lesbian, and bisexual Jews. This, our first educational outreach, proved to be a great success. Through consciousness-raising exercises and discussion, high-school students learned about what it is like to grow up Jewish and gay. A similar workshop is now being planned for a Jewish institution in the Columbia area. But wait--JAGL is also about fun! Last spring we had a Purim party complete with costumes and hamentaschen (unfortunately, they weren't pink). Our Hanukkah party is coming up on December 11-- location to be announced. JAGL led an Israeli dancing workshop at BGLAD's Queer Carnival, and we are considering starting queer Israeli folkdancing nights; if you are interested, please let us know. If you are Jewish and queer, please become a part of JAGL. We have meetings twice a month in 303 Earl Hall; please call 854-1488, check the lesbigay notesfile, or contact Tani at for more information. Our group is always looking for new faces and new ideas! - Tani Meir

      Rachel is an adjunct assistant professor in the Political Science 
      Department at Columbia University who is applying for teaching 
      positions at other institutions. Rachel is also a lesbian and is 
      concerned about how forthcoming she should be about her sexual 
      preference on her resume and subsequent interviews. Should she 
      note her involvement with God's Love We Deliver, Homophobia Task 
      Force, and Women Oriented Women (WOW) when asked about 
      extracurricular activities? How does she raise issues such as the 
      availability of domestic-partner benefits and housing for Renee, 
      her partner for the past three years.
David is new to Columbia University, a first-year graduate student in the English Department, and he's having problems adjusting to an impersonal campus in a metropolitan area. David misses the friends he had at his small rural college, friends who provided him with support and guidance when he came out there in his senior year. He is unsure of how to best approach his hopes of incorporating gay-specific themes in his research, and is looking for advice. David just wants to talk to someone to sort his feelings out, to help him feel more comfortable with himself and with Columbia. Rachel and David are not real people, but these two vignettes illustrate the type of personal questions for which the Mentors Project is designed to provide guidance. Sponsored by the Columbia Gay Health Advocacy Project (GHAP) and the Office of Campus Programs, it has identified gay and lesbian faculty, administrators, staff, and graduate students who are available as advisors for members of the lesbigay community at Columbia. The Mentors Project was created last spring to provide an opportunity for individual and confidential advising about lesbigay issues of a personal or academic nature. Interested? To get involved as an advisee or mentor, contact Laura Pinsky or Rachel Efron at 854-2878 on the Morningside Campus or Robert Kertzner (960-2439), Ron Remien (960-2375), or Ronald Winchel (960-5835) on the Health Sciences Campus. As best as possible, advisees will be matched with mentors based on specific interests or needs. We would also like to hear from anyone who knows of a similar program elsewhere so that we can compare notes. - Ken Harlin, Robert Kertzner


      Weekly meetings facilitated by Laura Pinsky. Open to students, 
      staff and faculty from any campus. Free and confidential. For 
      details, call Laura Pinsky at 854-2878.

HIV MENTORS SOUGHT Persons interested in participating as mentors in the planned CU "HIV mentoring program" are invited to contact Stephen Davis at or 219M Butler Library. Although the program is still being worked out, the idea is that an HIV mentor would help, guide, support, and counsel a person with HIV who is either having difficulties in his or her work environment or who fears having such difficulties if and when s/he divulges health status. TEACHERS COLLEGE EXTENDS DOMESTIC-PARTNER BENEFITS Effective November 1st, TC faculty and employees who qualify as domestic partners under New York City regulations are eligible to receive full health benefits. Since the insurance carriers currently used by the College do not offer policies for domestic partners, the benefit will initially consist of an addition to the employed partner's monthly salary in an amount that is equal to what TC pays to its carriers for these benefits. Even though this benefit payment will be fully taxable under current law, a TC study found that even after taxation, it could buy health insurance, "though the deductibles were somewhat high." This benefit is applicable only to faculty and professional staff because unionized employees are covered under contracts that provide for separate benefits programs. CKR2 SEEKS SUBSCRIBERS CKR2, also (perhaps formerly) known as Conor Kennedy Ryan, wants to let everybody know that the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Coalition (LBGC) has joined the technological 1990s with its own e-mail distribution list. To be added to this list, send your address to, of course. LBGC ANNOUNCES OFFICE HOURS LBGC is inaugurating office hours! In our attempts to create more safe spaces for queers on this campus, we are opening our office from noon to 4 pm, Monday to Thursday. Stop by and check magazines, books, and new decorations. Coffee, queer music, and most importantly, queer faces are available!

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