A few weeks ago, the national magazine The Advocate published a book that’s both unprecedented and unnecessary: The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students. In case you’ve spent the past 20 years in either a cloister or a coma, LGBT stands for “Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender,” a dazzling example of compression for politically correct speech, which normally takes 3-4 polysyllabic words to produce an opaque euphemism. Such euphemisms generally sound ridiculous at first — until they are shoved into every nook and cranny of our language by bureaucrats, academics, and finally attorneys. It usually takes some 10 years or so for a laughable acronym like this to move from the punchline of a joke to a term of art in anti-discrimination regulations.
The editors at The Advocate seem to imply by releasing their guide that most universities are bastions of hostility to public displays of sexual deviance. To which I’d say that I’m not sure which country they live in. I do remember that my blue-collar high school in Queens was a tough place for anyone who diverged in any way from the grubby norm; reading poetry in the lunchroom was enough to get you showered with epithets, and shaken-up cans of Coke. (See, I was a “heterosexual victim of homophobia.”) But that’s hardly the case at any of the campuses I’ve visited, or the 130 + schools I cover as editor of a series of college guides. At Yale when I arrived way back in 1982, there were public same-sex “kiss-ins,” on the steps of the library each spring. When I wrote an article during “Gay-Lesbian Awareness Days” reasserting enduring Christian teaching, within the week I was assaulted by an angry male-male couple at a party. (The police refused to file a report.) But even at the most conservative campus I have seen, that of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge — which was rife with the kind of frat boys one might suspect of secret hostility to drag queens — there were thankfully no reports of attacks on the many open homosexuals on the campus. No thuggish young men with “issues” were reported hanging around outside the thriving gay bar near campus. An opera student made a series of drag-queen movies right on campus which launched his career. Last time I heard of him, he was doing a solo act in Carnegie Hall.