Mailbox: "Being Gay" Strikes a Chord

I was very happy to read the extremely well done article on “Being Gay at Ithaca” (2009/2).

Having come out my freshman year at Ithaca, I went on to be part of a small but vocal gay-rights organization. In 1979, we actually held a rally on campus, then marched to the administration building, where we held a sit-in in President Whalen’s office. The issue? Inclusion of the term “gender identity” in the College’s freedom from discrimination clause.

It’s amazing that it took almost 20 years for this to become official College policy! The administration fought tooth and nail to keep that clause out for fear that it would deter parents from sending their children to Ithaca.

While there was an attitude of openness on campus around being gay, make no mistake that there was also an undercurrent of anti-gay sentiments at all levels of the College community.

I am grateful that my “coming out” was at Ithaca. Not only did I have very supportive friends, but I also had great professors who allowed me to explore the political realities of gay oppression. I was thrilled to see Marty Brownstein’s name and his comments in your story. He was, I believe, the first openly gay professor to teach a class on gay literature and culture, in which I happily participated.

Thanks again for a great article.

Jeffrey Hallenbeck ’79
Albany, New York