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    February 18, 2008

    An alma mater behind the curve

    Posted by: Chris

    Vanderbiltseal_2 My feelings about my college alma mater, Vanderbilt University, run from love to frustration, if not hate. I had an incredible college experience, both in terms of education and figuring out who I am as a person. My initial attraction was the school's reputation as "the Harvard of the South," and I was eager to return to my native region after an abrupt family move from Memphis to Cincinnati during my junior year of high school.

    Ironically, the conservative Southern atmosphere at Vanderbilt -- don't call Vanderbilt "Vandy," you wouldn't call Harvard "Harvy" -- wound up unleashing the activist and journalist in me, and I haven't really recovered since. Even as a conservative Republican from a few hours down the highway, I was surprised my first year by the overt, lazy racism of many of these wealthy, educated students. I helped start an organization called the Racial Environment Project that lobbied for an increased number of minority students and a better racial climate on campus.

    It spilled over into my budding journalism career. Like many of my closeted "best little boys in the world," I channeled my repressed sexuality into my studies and extracurricular life. I managed to become editor of the student newspaper, the Vanderbilt Hustler (we had the name first), as a sophomore and made covering racial issues a priority.

    At the time, my commitment to a better relations between white and black students seemed purely intellectual, but several liberal professors aware of my politics (and religious background) asked me a number of times whether there might be some other motivation. They were as clueless as I was about the connection I see as clear as day today. Even though I was struggling with my sexuality at the time, I identified with the way black students often felt alienated by the macho Southern culture of the campus.

    The closest I came to doing anything about my sexual orientation -- I never acted on it -- was to ask one of those liberal professors for help. I was so nervous -- this was 1986 -- I only got as far as saying I had a problem with girls. "Look," he said in response. "I can see you're really struggling with something, so let me give you the name of someone to talk to. He's a counselor and a great guy; he would have been a priest but he quit the seminary because of all the gays there." Gee, thanks…

    Gay life was completely nonexistent, at least on the surface. The year after I graduated, a group formed and advertised in the Hustler classifieds, but to attend a meeting you had to send a letter to a P.O. Box to learn the location and times. Things were that bad.

    I was president of the Racial Environment Project my senior, and someone suggested at a meeting that we extend our mission to include gay issues. Panicked, I pointed out that the group's name and mission were limited to racial issues, and I changed the subject as quickly as possible. I still feel a twinge of guilt thinking back about that moment.

    If all this seems a bit prehistoric, even for the 1980s, it was. Vanderbilt has always been behind the curve on social progress. It was only in my junior year, after a huge campus debate, that a traditionally white sorority inducted a black girl for the first time. The Princeton Review has consistently ranked Vanderbilt as among the most homophobic schools in the country.

    All of this is background for the debate at Vanderbilt now about whether to add "gender identity" to the university's nondiscrimination policy. I'm not sure exactly when "sexual orientation" was added, but I believe it was well into the '90s. I remember the objection of the school's administration was that "sexual orientation" was too ill-defined and could include a whole range of sexual fetishes.

    A first year law student could answer that concern by simply defining "sexual orientation" to include "heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual," but no matter. It was too much for the school's Board of Trustees to swallow.

    Now the issue is transgender, and you can imagine the uphill battle facing the proposal. Of course adding transgender protections raises a different set of issues, and they have defined gender identity in a broad way, to include "anyone who does not conform to stereotypical gender norms." But the debate ultimately isn't a substantive one, it's merely a matter of pulling (not pushing) Vanderbilt into the 21st century.

    Or, as the first female president of the school's alumni association once said to me about the Board of Trustees, "It usually takes a few good funerals for progress to come to Vanderbilt."



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    1. Lucrece on Feb 18, 2008 7:42:12 PM:

      That's the South for you, always behind on social progress.

      It's a pity, though, considering it makes for one of the most iconic sectors of the American international image.

    1. Out of Eygpt on Feb 18, 2008 9:12:13 PM:

      ...The closest I came to doing anything about my sexual orientation -- I never acted on it -- was to ask one of those liberal professors for help. I was so nervous -- this was 1986 -- I only got as far as saying I had a problem with girls. "Look," he said in response. "I can see you're really struggling with something, so let me give you the name of someone to talk to. He's a counselor and a great guy; he would have been a priest but he quit the seminary because of all the gays there." .....CCrain

      The discrimination homosexuals have undergone in this country is an abomination. The story of the solitary person begging God through tears to take away these feelings is a common one but nevertheless tragic. This is not the way it is supposed to be, at least according to what everyone around him is experiencing. After some time, he finally is able to put a name to his feelings. More often than not he keeps his secret to himself, hoping against all hope that it will just disappear.

      Homosexuality frightens most people because it is so terribly misunderstood. The solution has always been seen as the problem by society. There is nothing more natural in the world than for two homosexuals to engage sexually. What is not understood is why. No one describes the homosexual condition better than Dr. E. Moberly, Homosexuality, A New Christian Ethic.

      After 7 years of study at Cambridge of existing data, she drew new and rather shocking conclusions that offended most afflicted with the deficit. In its essence homosexuality is nothing more than an attachment disorder. The child incompletely attaches to his gender( spectrum ranging from complete detachment/ transgender to the bisexual). Perception on the part of the child is everything. The normal developmental pathway would have the child bonding with the same sex parent (parental figure) and through this vital relationship as a cornerstone, eventually developing into a psychologically complete member of his gender. The pre-homosexual instead erects a wall of mistrust towards the same sex parent thereby interferring with the fulfillment of his basic needs for love, dependancy and gender identity. That these needs be met is indispensable to reaching God's developmental goal for mankind--heterosexuality, defined not so much as an attraction to the opposite sex, as an ability to relate to both sexes as pyschologically complete memeber of his own sex.

      The intricacies of the condition I will leave to the doctor, what is important here is that the homosexual is a wounded person. The deficit he carries is deep and so it is not unusual for such a deep need to be sexualized in the adult. The homosexual is not at all a threat to God's plan for heterosexuality in fact, the homosexual engaging sexually with another is actually striving to achieve completion, meet his unmet needs, striving unconsciously towards heterosexuality.

      The activist community, deeply wounded people and sick of being treated as second class citizens, began waging war very effectively against fat, dumb and happy America too busy watching TV to notice what was happening right under their noses. The homosexual agenda seeks to normalize homosexuality in America. This is so sad because rather than allowing themselves to get the available help they need to get LEGITIMATE UNIVERSAL NEEDS met, they insist on wanting to be accepted as they are and live acting out, over and over again the drama with the same sex parent in a futile attempt to bring themselves into balance( Homosexual 'marriage" then is a parent-child relationship, in other words incestuous). God is so loving that he will never interfer with someone trying to meet legitimate needs, he will only very gently redirect them, with their cooperation, away from the counterfeit to the genuine love they are so desperately seeking.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Feb 19, 2008 1:32:07 AM:

      Out of Egypt:

      You know, few things make me more positively irate than people who peddle this fake, snake oil message that Christianity can cure homosexuality.

      How supremely arrogant of you to suggest that you or anyone else knows why people are gay. Tell me ... where did this brilliant Dr. Moberly get her accreditation? At the licensing kiosk in the Creationist Museum in Kentucky? Or perhaps God came down and explained all this gay business to her?

      The fact is that most of theories you describe have been debunked by real doctors and medical professionals. People who support your "attachment disorder" theory have their own agenda and are looking to support their own preconceived views on the subject. So, yeah, you've got nothing.

      What gay people need is for straight folks to get over their irrational, relgion fueled prejudices; we also need equal treatment under the law, including the right to marry our same-sex partners. What we absolutely do not need is for charlatans like you to peddle this kind of fraudulent pseudo-psychology to impressionable gay men and women. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    1. Kevin on Feb 19, 2008 6:22:51 AM:


      So God has told you what I need?

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