Article in FM this week about a bunch of homosexuals kicked out of Harvard in 1920. I think the story isn't being presented well. At the risk of being attacked for hate speech, I think the largest moral of the story is: don't make sex (of any variety) the main focus of your life. One kid spent all his time in onanism and fellatio and whatever else, didn't pass his classes, and got kicked out of Harvard not for homosexuality but for grades. He then killed himself, most likely (according to the story and to me) both because of the Harvard problem and from various aspects of his homosexual lifestyle. He doesn't seem to have been persecuted for it at all -- much like the drug presence at my high school, most people didn't know of it or even think of it, and those involved did it mostly on their own time (but didn't hide it from anyone who wanted to find out), and the people who knew about it but didn't participate (like me) didn't care or at least didn't care enough to say anything unless asked to.
Yes, the students who killed themselves during/after the investigation most likely did so as a direct result of the investigation. The coverup by the University, while understandable, is certainly reprehensible. A demand for an official apology from people who were not even born when all this took place, much less involved in it, however? Ridiculous; as ridiculous as slave reparations or economic reparations to descendants of Irish or Chinese immigrants. For students to be asked to temporarily withdraw (with readmittance after a year) purely because they were aware of what was going on and said nothing -- that is wrong. People knew what was going on with Pomey and Gomes, but didn't say anything, which is wrong, but the most that should have happened to them (now and in 1920) was a severe talking-to. That Harvard later (in more sensible/tolerant/something times) admitted that it was unimportant and purely because of societal association is a good thing, but they could and should have done a bit more while such students were alive.
Students killing themselves (or dying from probable suicides) ten years after the fact? While their treatment by Harvard may have been one part of the problem, I'm sure they had other things going on in their lives. And even their treatment by Harvard varied; several were eventually allowed back in.
But that it's all a product of homophobia and discrimination? The teacher kicked out seduced a student, for goodness' sake. That's enough to get him fired, regardless of the sex of the student. Yes, Harvard recommended that he not be hired as a teacher at a boys' school, because of his demonstrated attraction to teenage boys. Paul Shanley also had a demonstrated attraction to men his age, teenage boys, and pubescent and pre-pubescent boys; the Church is being criticized now for not recommending that he not be hired as someone who works with teenage boys, even after he had been certified "cured." Damned if you do, damned if you don't, I guess.
Many of the students involved were failing their classes. It would take a lot to convince me that this was related to persecution. The teachers seemed shocked to find out what was going on, so the teachers obviously didn't mark them down out of "homophobia" or any such. The students simply spent all their time drinking and having "faggoty" parties (the involved students' word, not mine). Students of any sexual persuasion who spend all their time drinking and having sex parties don't generally do well in class. And they had no need to have such parties. Those students pictures en flagrante delicto (as it were) in FM weekly have no need to behave that way either (lest I be accused of bias). Many students here are chaste; many others have active yet private sex lives. If being a homosexual means having a need to act on sexual desires as openly and frequently as possible, then it is a disorder. It's called nymphomania. The Dancer has shown me that such a characterization is ridiculous. Her sex life is the same (as far as I can tell) as it was when she was straight.
Most interesting are the students who believed that homosexuality was wrong, was a trap in which they were caught, an evil addiction, a temptation, a deadly circle that was hard to leave; one even wrote asking Harvard to help the students out of their habits rather than expelling them. Sounds a lot like the more sensible people I know who believe themselves to have been freed from the evil addiction of homosexuality through a (human or divine) helping hand -- and who am I to question them? Several of the students involved were actually given such a helping hand, one being constantly guarded from relapse by his cousin and eventually being described by his daughter as a "skirt-chaser." Another married his girlfriend, became a father, and decades later described it as the "happiest of marriages." Not forced to pretend to be heterosexual against his will, clearly (and a few students involved did remain single, possibly with relationships, which was therefore obviously an acceptable option); and not eternally bound by an accident of birth to enjoy only relations with other men.
One thing that frustrates me about this article -- and Amit Paley's articles are often very balanced, with a few exceptions, like when he put a column about Fred Phelps in an article about the ex-homosexual movement at Harvard -- is the occasional unwarranted editorializing. A huge amount of work went into the article -- it's investigative journalism at its best -- and just plain reporting would suffice perfectly. Calling everyone "homophobic" only detracts from the story. The administrators clearly thought of homosexual behaviour (especially at this orgiastic level) as wrong, the same way they'd have thought of constant excessive drinking as wrong (and illegal), or heterosexual excesses (orgies), prostitution, or excessive drug use. I doubt they were afraid of these students any more than they would have been afraid of student drunkards or students involved in prostitution. They just (correctly or incorrectly) believed it was wrong and must be punished. Larry Summers has agreed that (at least some of) the actions were regrettable, but that the college has moved on. So should the community.