COMMUNITY NEWS Volume 1, Number 5
February 1994

COMMUNITY NEWS  Volume 1, Number 5  February 1994
        A Newsletter for the lesbian, bisexual, and gay community
          and supporters at Columbia University and Affiliates
FEBRUARY EVENTS CALENDAR & CONTACTS 3 (Thursday) CU Seminar on Homosexualities. Topic: "Kafka's Closet," Presenter: Mark Anderson, CU. 7:30 pm, 1512 IAB. 4 (Friday) Lesbian/Gay Studies Group. Topic to be announced. 4 pm, 754 Schermerhorn Extension. * LBGC First Friday Dance. 10 pm, Earl Hall. 6 (Sunday) "Oral Sex and Possible HIV Transmission," a community discussion sponsored by Columbia GHAP and the Gay Men's Health Crisis. Among the speakers will be physicians, social workers, and medical researchers, led by Dr. Jeffrey Laurence, an associate professor of medicine at Cornell University and the senior science consultant for AMFAR. 2-5 pm, Miller Theatre. * LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 10 (Thursday) Lesbigay Community Meeting with Black History Month- related theme. 5:30-7 pm, 308 Lewisohn. * LBGTC Meeting: "A Call to Action: Advocacy," with the Hon. Deborah Glick, Member, New York State Assembly. 7 pm, 179 Grace Dodge Hall (Teachers College). 13 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. * Girlz on Film presents Ursula Purrer Q&A and reception to follow screening. 7 pm, 501 Schermerhorn. 17 (Thursday) GABLES-CU Meeting. 5:30-7 pm, 628 Kent Hall. * LBGTC Valentine's Potluck Dinner. 8 pm, 179 Grace Dodge Hall (Teachers College). RSVP to Ed Falterman at 678-0884. 18 (Friday) Lesbian/Gay Studies Group. Topic to be announced. 4 pm, 754 Schermerhorn Extension. 19 (Saturday) Safer Sex and Intimacy Workshop, co-sponsor by LBGTC and GMHC (for men). Lunch provided. No charge, but admission only through advance registration: call GMHC Hotline, 807-6655. 10 am- 5 pm, location at Teachers College will be provided to those registering. * Third Saturday Dance. 10 pm-2 am, Earl Hall. 20 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. 27 (Sunday) LBGC Meeting. 7 pm, 303 Earl Hall. March 9 (Wednesday) Lesbigay Community Meeting. 5:30-7 pm, 308 Lewisohn. KEY: GABLES-CU--Gay, Bisexual, & Lesbian Employees & Supporters GHAP--Gay Health Advocacy Project GMHC--Gay Men's Health Crisis 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;

      There are frequent reminders that AIDS has touched many lives 
      within our community at Columbia--and continues to do so. But 
      several responses to the pandemic are also evident, from research 
      underway within the medical school to the information, counseling, 
      and support groups offered by the Columbia Gay Health Advocacy 
      Project (GHAP). In keeping with its mission to arm us with 
      knowledge as we wage this war against the AIDS pandemic, GHAP, 
      along with the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), will sponsor a 
      community discussion: "Oral Sex and Possible HIV Transmission." 
      The discussion, which takes place on Sunday, February 6, from 2 to 
      5 pm in Miller Theater (Broadway and 116th St.), will feature 
      prominent HIV experts.

      Like it or not, many of us are fast becoming more "expert" than we 
      ever imagined. As Conor Kennedy recently noted: "The sense of 
      emptiness I, a 19-year-old, feel as I scan the obituaries is 
      something no teen-ager, no 20, 30 and 40-something should have to 
      endure. People aren't supposed to die before they've graduated 
      from college, before they've found a lover, before their first 
      mid-life crisis." Kennedy was one of several speakers at a 
      memorial service held on the eve of World AIDS Day. Rabbi Michael 
      Paley, the director of the Earl Hall Center, spoke of Steven, a 
      friend since they were high school students:

      "When Steven called to tell me he had AIDS, I went to see him and 
      once again began to learn and find meaning in new and unexpected 
      ways. When I sit in his apartment I realize that I am in the 
      presence of a person whose lifelong task has been to make meaning 
      from chaos. I noticed that his life has acquired an unsettling 
      velocity. I am exhausted by it, and yet I can see that it yields a 
      kind of incandescent wisdom.... I would rather have reconnected 
      with Steven as we reached mutual mid-life crises. It would have 
      been good to chat about career moves and receding hairlines. But 
      we will not have that luxury. So now I sit with an elder who is 
      startlingly my own age...."

      E. R. Shipp, a graduate student in history, recalled a brother, an 
      uncle, classmates, friends, and professional colleagues who have 
      died, but especially a friend named Jay:

      "I recall the day in 1989 when he gave me a novel, in French, and 
      pointed out a passage. It was as beautiful as it was foreboding. 
      The English translation of that passage from "Memoirs of Hadrian" 
      is this: 'Shall I be carried off by the tenth of these crises, or 
      the hundredth? That is the only question. Like a traveler sailing 
      the Archipelago, who sees the luminous mists lift toward evening, 
      and little by little makes out the shore, I begin to discern the 
      profile of my death.' Jay used those words as the opening lines of 
      his will. We said goodbye to Jay in September 1989. One more young 
      casualty in a war that the nation still is not committed to 
      winning any time soon."

      Kennedy, the co-chair of LBGC, called for action:

      "Combatting AIDS is about awareness and education. It's about 
      knowing that ignorance can kill you. We have seen so many of our 
      friends, our colleagues, our families die. I urge every one of you 
      to help stop this tide. We all need to be out there on the streets 
      as well as in our homes yelling, screaming. We all need to keep on 
      the government and the NIH to find a cure, to urge our brothers 
      and sisters to protect themselves, to be at the side of those who 
      are already sick. Stopping AIDS is more than a battle; it's a war. 
      And, as always, it's our war. No one is going to win it for us. In 
      some ways, it's so simple. It's a matter of life and death, and 
      only if we all look out for each other--queer, straight, male, 
      female, black, white, whatever--can we emerge to a world without 
      this plague."

      Plans are now underway for some sort of permanent memorial to 
      Columbians who have died of HIV-related illnesses.

                                                           - E. R. Shipp

            Source: Computer Newspaper Search, 1992-present

         Anderson, Larz F., 2nd              Kwalick, Barry
         Bennett, Richard                    Lida, Mark
         Berger, Ira                         Manford, Morty
         Brookner, Howard                    Martin, John L.
         Brown, Jacob                        Mayerson, Robert
         Bucholtz, Jeffrey                   Monroe, Ronald B.
         Cassidy, Tom                        Oppenheim, Philip
         Chenitz-Manley, Carole              Peduto, Stephen
         Cohen, David H.                     Perkins, Anthony
         Cohn, Roy                           Post, Rick
         Contini, Alan                       Preston, Erwin
         Dawson, Kenneth L.                  Rango, Nicholas
         Diaz Alejandro, Carlos              Revson, James
         Dixon, Melvin                       Rozeli, Ron
         Ferri, Roger                        Schmalz, Jeffrey
         Friedman, Lewis M.                  Schutz, Prescott
         Gardner, James                      
         Gingell, Barry                      Towlen, Gary
         Gottesman, Edward H.                Van Ryzin, John
         Greenspan, Stuart                   Ward, Matthew
         Kadet, Sandford

                     A CALL TO WOMEN-ORIENTED WOMEN

I've always felt very lucky to be a lesbian at Columbia University, at least in my position as Departmental Administrator in the Department of Religion. When I'm at the office, I feel at home, as though I'm among people who accept me wholly for what I am. I've never had to leave part of me behind while at work, never had to cloak the lesbian part of me behind the "employed" part. I haven't encountered homophobia in the department. But until recently I wasn't quite sure what to expect on other parts of campus, and, indeed, I've endured my share of muttered epithets and name-calling. Naturally, all this made me feel less than secure and very much alone, the way many lesbigays feel when they're not quite sure who their fellow lesbigays are. Much of that insecurity disappeared last February when some wonderful people got together and decided to sound the call for a "community meeting." There we all were, 100 or so lesbigays packed into the Jerome Greene Lounge, finally looking at each other and understanding that we are indeed a community. Getting to know lesbigay graduate students and members of LBGC since then has been a special pleasure, and I think it is fair to say that without them many of our events may never have happened. And, of course, as in the straight community, life is not made of only 18- to 22-year-old undergrads, 30-something staff members or 40ish professors. Only together may we be called the lesbigay community of Columbia University. Sadly, the biggest frustration I've felt since becoming active with lesbigay issues and events on campus has been the lack of participation among women. Many of you may recall that last spring I tried to organize a group called Women-Oriented Women Faculty and Staff. Not much came of it because there seemed to be little interest: our biggest meeting drew just seven people. Women are also a distinct minority in GABLES-CU and at community meetings. Knowing that lesbians and bisexual women may face many more difficulties than gay men by virtue of our sex, I wonder if the near invisibility on campus is because of fear. And, if not fear, are women worried that their voices will be drowned out by male issues? Whatever the reason, women-oriented women are just not coming out. Given the number of women among the faculty and staff at Columbia, I'm certain there are more than seven lesbians and bisexuals in the bunch! So let me invite all of you women to come to the next community meeting or GABLES-CU meeting (see the Events Calendar for dates) to see what we're all about. It would also be wonderful to revive Women-Oriented Women so that we could come together and socialize, lobby, and reach out to our lesbian and bisexual friends among the undergraduate and graduate student population. If you can't come to a meeting, give me a call (854-3219) or stop by my office in 619 Kent. And don't worry. Lesbigays are always welcome at the Department of Religion! - Annie Barry

      A year ago very few of us would have seen anything resembling a 
      lesbigay community at Columbia. But thankfully, Jim Hoover, the 
      Law Librarian, and several other visionaries looked upon the same 
      landscape and saw the potential for much more. So they called a 
      meeting. Remember all those fliers around campus inviting people 
      to a community meeting? Even Hoover and company did not anticipate 
      the overflow crowd of more than 100 people--students, staffers, 
      faculty members--who showed up. That was the beginning, one year 
      ago this month, of an effort to build a community for lesbians, 
      gays and bisexuals at this University.

      We have much for which to congratulate ourselves, but to cite a 
      few accomplishments: the formation of GABLES-CU and, through its 
      auspices, the creation of numerous committees and task forces; the 
      launching of various campus groups that reflect our great 
      diversity; the creation of the electronic bulletin board called 
      Lesbigay Notesfile; the publication of "CALIPSO, the Columbia 
      Almanac of Information Pertaining to Sexual Orientation;" the 
      successful Bisexual Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days celebration in 
      October; the attainment of domestic partner benefits and a strong 
      commitment from University officials to deal with homophobic 
      incidents on campus; and last, but by no means least, the monthly 
      publication of this newsletter. Can we hear some applause?

      Of course, we still have a long way to go to meet the challenge 
      posed by one of our members, John Higgins, who on Coming Out Day 
      last October, called for the development of a community that goes 
      beyond meeting to achieve common social and political objectives. 
      He envisioned "a community of direct, interpersonal contact, 
      direct concern for each other's happiness, celebration of each 
      other as distinct reflections of life." We also have far to go to 
      make that more women and all persons of color at Columbia and 
      Barnard feel welcome. (See Annie Barry's article on women.)

      As we congratulate ourselves on the strides made in one year, 
      let's commit ourselves to actively participate with one of the 
      many organizations around. We can certainly use more writers for 
      "Community News." And there's always a need for volunteers to plan 
      the monthly community meetings. Let us hear from you!

                                            - The "Community News" staff

      Now that the uproar surrounding President Clinton's compromise on 
      gays and lesbians in the military has died down (and we at last 
      can be spared retired generals on Sunday morning talk shows using 
      code words like "cohesion"), it might be a good time to pick up 
      Randy Shilts's exhaustive history of homosexuality in the armed 
      forces. "Conduct Unbecoming" stands out by virtue of its moving 
      reconstruction of the discrimination, harassment, and official 
      neglect suffered by dozens of gay and lesbian people in the 
      military, most within the last 25 years, but a few cases going 
      back as far as the Revolutionary War. As we see Lt. Gottbold 
      Enslin drummed out of Washington's encampment at Valley Forge, we 
      really have to wonder how much attitudes about homosexuality have 
      changed in the last 215 years.

      But vastly more disturbing than the numbing succession of 
      discharges outlined in the book is its expose of the highly 
      coercive, frequently illegal techniques employed by the various 
      investigative branches of the services as they pursue charges of 
      homosexual activity. Illegally obtained, personal articles are 
      repeatedly held up in discharge hearings as suitable evidence; 
      confessions obtained on false pretenses are allowed to stand; 
      witnesses who admit to having perjured themselves are believed by 
      their superiors. As the services come under increasing pressure 
      from the courts, the media, and activists, the rate of 
      investigations actually increases and the regulations grow 
      tougher. Only when the military is desperate for able-bodied 
      soldiers (particularly during the Vietnam War) does homosexuality 
      suddenly become tolerable. Not everyone, we learn, was as lucky as 
      Chevy Chase, who managed to escape the draft by claiming 
      homosexuality. Many open homosexuals were retained by the service 
      only to be discharged less than honorably years later for what 
      their commanders knew all along. (One such soldier, Perry Watkins, 
      whose drag performances are called "a boost to unit morale" by his 
      commanding officer, was recently awarded several years of back pay 
      after such a discharge.)

      More than anything, "Conduct Unbecoming" is a study of the 
      intransigence of the military in the face of social change. It 
      also has a lot to say about the military's reluctance to integrate 
      African Americans and women. It can be a disturbing read, but it 
      is essential to anyone interested in the future of the cases now 
      being litigated. And, it may finally answer that question so 
      commonly asked: Why do so many gay and lesbian people want to 
      belong to the armed forces in the first place? For many, it's 
      because of simple patriotism--patriotism that has in large part 
      been denied homosexuals in this often intolerant society. But more 
      of us are coming to realize that if we can have the word "queer" 
      back, we can have the flag back, too.

      "Conduct Unbecoming" is published by St. Martin's Press and 
      carries a list price of $27.95 hardcover. 770 pages.

                                                         - Jason Marsden

      Oh, no, it's not that Bruce Bawer is ashamed of who he is: a 
      conservative queer who (at least according to the book jacket) is 
      "one of our most highly regarded cultural critics." It's just that 
      he's put off by what he considers to be the illogical, bizarre, 
      and reactionary "lifestyle" of too many gays and lesbians.

      Bawer's new book, "A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in 
      American Society," has raised eyebrows and controversy since it 
      was published in the fall. Bawer, who has written for "The Wall 
      Street Journal," "The New York Times" and "The American 
      Spectator," seems to have convinced people that he has a unique 
      perspective just by virtue of his existence as "a monogamous 
      churchgoing Christian" and social conservative while at the same 
      time... HE'S GAY!

      He must have found at least 500 uses of the term "subculturally-
      oriented gays" (a new one on me). Just to enlighten: According to 
      Bawer, "to be a subculture-oriented gay is to center one's 
      identity on one's homosexuality." Having defined this phenomenon, 
      he goes on to depict it as a radical, separatist, reactionary move 
      on the part of gays and lesbians to reject wholly mainstream 
      society and all of its trappings.

      "A Place at the Table" angered me in a lot of ways. At the top of 
      my list would be Bawer's tone of voice and attitude. The press 
      release claims: "Public discussions of [homosexuality] tend to be 
      dominated on both sides by extremist demagogues whose mutual 
      antagonism and distortions of the truth have perpetuated 
      unnecessary misunderstandings and confrontation. This closely 
      reasoned meditation on homosexuality is Bawer's attempt to set 
      things right."

      Clearly "A Place at the Table" was written for people like my 
      parents who are looking for a nonchallenging gay point of view 
      that comforts them while assuring them that homosexuality doesn't 
      have to be queer. Bawer's main premise is that gays and lesbians 
      need to censor their behavior (which, according to him, boils down 
      to childish rebellion anyway) and exclude those elements of our 
      community that give ammunition to Pat Robertson and his ilk.

      This book could have been written 30 years ago for the lack of 
      insight it offers on current culture and its lack of understanding 
      of gay identity and queer theory. At one point Bawer quotes Allen 
      Ginsberg, the poet, asking: "Is Bruce Bawer homophobic?" Nope, 
      Allen, he's just oppressive, narrow-minded, and judgmental. From 
      my perspective, instead of suggesting the sacrifices that the 
      lesbigay community could make to gain full acceptance in a flawed, 
      intolerant straight culture, we should aim to change the way in 
      which issues of sexuality and gender are treated. When we succeed 
      at that, ours will be a freer world for all to enjoy.

      "A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society" is 
      published by Poseidon Press and carries a list price of $21.

                                                         - Conor Kennedy

                            NEWS BITS


Research Assistant for the Columbia University Psychiatric Institute's HIV Center, Adolescent Prevention Studies Unit. Part time, flexible hours. Desired qualifications: knowledge of adolescent development, issues of sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS. Must have good computer skills, be flexible, and a self-starter. Mail your resume to Marya Gwadz, 722 West 168th Street, Box 29, New York, NY 10032, or fax it to (212) 740-7329. More information, call (212) 740-7323. "THE HARVARD GAY & LESBIAN REVIEW" This quarterly journal of essays, reviews, and poetry of interest to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, queers, and straight people provides a forum for work of the highest quality without regard to subject area, political orientation, or cultural commitment. The first issue includes a critical essay on five literary works, a psychologist's ideas on the origins of homosexuality, an interview with a well-known lesbian author, and the memoirs of a famous gay novelist. The rate for one year--four quarterly issues--is only $16: "The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review," P. O. Box 1809, Cambridge MA 02238. 303 EARL HALL OFFICE HOURS LBGC is resuming office hours for the Spring semester. They are from noon to four, Monday through Thursday. Stop by and check out magazines, including the "Advocate," "Out," and "On Our Backs"; new books, including "Queer Looks," "Gay and Lesbian Studies Reader," "Sister Outsider," and "Giovanni's Room"; and new decorations. Coffee, queer music, and most importantly queer faces are available! COLORADO BOYCOTT OVER All the national gay organizations, Boycott Colorado, Inc. and New York Boycott Colorado! Inc. have all either called off or "suspended" the boycott. However, if Amendment 2 is resurrected by the Supreme Court, then the boycott may be reinstated. OLYMPICS NEEDS HELP Gay Games IV and Cultural Festival, which will take place June 18- 25 in NYC, is looking for people with a variety of skills and talents to help them out. Look at it as an internship, volunteer work, whatever, but it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Undergrads, grads, and faculty/staff, all are welcome and needed. If you're interested, please call Alan at 626-6925.

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