The all-male Morehouse College will soon offer its first LGBT-themed course, reports its campus newspaper The Maroon Tiger. It's a major development because only a handful of historically black colleges offer LGBT-themed courses and/or recognize LGBT student groups. It's also quite an accomplishment on the same campus that has seen numerous well-publicized cases of homophobia, harassment and anti-gay violence in recent years.
The survey course will be offered by the sociology department and "has been cross listed by the African American studies department." "The History and Culture of Black LGBT" is now taking registration for the Spring 2013 semester, reports The Maroon Tiger.
The idea came to fruition when [gay/straight alliance and student advocacy group SafeSpace] Special Project and Events Coordinator Marcus Lee partnered with Yale University professor Dr. Jafari S. Allen to pitch the project. Allen focuses on the intersections of queer sexuality, gender and blackness. “He’s very interested in gender non-conformity among colored people, and I’m interested in that as well,” Lee said. Allen [will] teach the class via Skype.
The course is expected to outline various key concepts in Black feminism and critical cultural theory and methodology. Described as “an interdisciplinary survey of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) culture and politics” in the course’s syllabus, the class will serve as an in-depth look into critical, social and cultural theory that will vastly benefit the Morehouse community.
SafeSpace’s Public Relations Director Ja’Mal Lewis believes that this course will finally shine light on the LGBT figures that have been overlooked throughout history. "Many influential LGBT leaders have gone unrecorded due to their sexuality, and they made many of the movements that changed and shaped our history," Lewis said.
The 143-year-old college is one of the nation's most prestigious historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). The college boasts famous alumni and "Morehouse men" such as civil rights icons Dr, Martin Luther King Jr and Julian Bond, filmmaker Spike Lee and actor Samuel L. Jackson.
The college history is steeped in religion and tradition but it has boasted a thriving yet mostly closeted black gay subculture. The campus has been the site of several well-publicized acts of homophobia, harassment and anti-gay violence. In November 2002, one "Morehouse man" nearly killed another student with a baseball bat because he believed the boy was gay and made a pass at him. In May 2010, three gay students were carjacked, kidnapped, robbed at gunpoint and called "faggots."
Morehouse President Dr. Robert M. Franklin vowed to address homophobia on campus when he took office in 2009. A staffer was fired later in 2009 for their part in a vicious anti-gay chain email.
In October 2009, a controversial student dress code was enacted that banned womens' attire, accessories or makeup. The code was endorsed by the campus' sole gay student group SafeSpace.
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