One can only imagine what would happen if any passionate Christians still remaining at Yale demanded a Christ Month, with full staffing and funding from the university? What would the campus look like with crucifixes, crosses, and chalices hanging from trees like the pink and lavender streamers that presently cover the campus each April during the BGLAD Pride Month celebrations? Such an image of Christian images and icons at an Ivy League school founded 300 years ago by a Christian church is unimaginable, isn't it? The answer to that question provides a snapshot of the intellectual and moral deterioration of Yale, in particular, and American higher education, in general, where tolerance is one-way, and morality is in the eyes of the beholder.
I walked to the mailbox this afternoon and found my copy of “Yale Alumni Magazine.” The cover story and focus of the July/August 2009 issue: “Why They Call Yale the 'Gay Ivy.'” Frankly, I was confused. Is this an achievement Yale has been seeking? Is this an award in which every alumnus should revel and bask? What was I to do with this revealing news that Yale has now stablished itself as the “Gay Ivy?”
The cover story's purpose: a thoroughly self-indulgent celebration of all things gay at Yale. The feature article, penned by Yale history professor, George Chauncey, himself a gay alumnus with multiple degrees from Yale, chronicles the history of gay life at Yale. His essay is adapted from remarks he shared at the Yale Gay and Lesbian Alumni (GALA) reunion in April. His point: Yale has a hard-earned, well-deserved, and glorious reputation as the Gay Ivy.
I will not dwell on the flimsy scholarship that permeates the issue. The editor notes that Yale is the “Gay Ivy” because “many students think it's true” and “you may see a gay couple holding hands” if you walk around campus. Hardly stunning intellectual insights in those rigorous statistical analyses.
Each of the essays presents a personal reflection on the student's experience as a gay man or lesbian while at Yale and what they experience today. Most striking about the entire issue are three key themes and assumptions present in the feature article by Chauncey and the reflections of 4 homosexual alumni that follow his essay.
1) Equal treatment for homosexual students
All the writers share deep personal feelings about the struggles they have faced in their personal journeys. Recent gay students comment on the lack of awkward conspicuousness they experience at Yale today.All readers should rightly rejoice in the fact that gay students feel welcome , valued, and safe at Yale. Any moral person will believe in the dignity and rights of each human being on earth.
However, there is a huge leap from a moral endorsement of human rights to what can only be described as the writers', and Yale's, endorsement of any behavior as being “moral” as long as there are enough people doing it or enough supporters are militant in their advocacy of it. This is not to say that to be homosexual is wrong. However, one would expect an intellectually-oriented institution to raise the question: are there moral and immoral expressions of homosexuality? Evidently, Yale cannot muster the resources for that question given its intensive efforts to celebrate all things gay.
One cannot help but wonder: is there a parallel universe where an academic institution founded by gays spends so much energy, passion, and money supporting the efforts of Christians? Any gay institution that proclaims a Faith Pride Month?
2) The queering of religion
Chauncey celebrates how Yale, and our entire culture, moved in the 1960s and '70s to a “new moral code that linked sex to love, pleasure, freedom, self-expression, and common consent.” He revels in the “transformation of the Normal itself.” In other words, we have replaced the quaint notion of selfless, sacrificial love between a man and a woman with a “new” moral code where anyone can do anything he wants and call it OK. Only the individual is the arbiter of what is right and wrong. How sadly self- absorbed. An agenda that can only be summarized as “all about me.”
3) The co-opting of Yale's founding mission
Yale's principal mission was set forth in its founding charter. In 1701 the General Assembly of Connecticut approved An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School, which it described as a place "wherein youth may be instructed in the Arts and Sciences who through the blessing of Almighty God may be fitted for Publick employment both in Church and Civil State." Few people remember that Yale was founded by a Christian church for the church's mission. Those who do remember that inconvenient fact gain a good chuckle at the irony that any orthodox understanding of God has been nearly banished from Yale while the school has embraced multi-culturalism, political correctness, and pluralism to such a degree that it can now be called the “Gay Ivy.”
Is that title something alumni should be proud of or excited about? Is this a pinnacle of achievement for Yale? Three hundred years of existence and now we have finally attained our coveted goal, status as “The Gay Ivy?” Perhaps the school's motto could be changed from “Light and Truth” to “Queer and Here” as a part of next year's Pride Month celebrations.
To wonder about a Christ Pride Month at Yale, with dangling chalices and crosses, would be foolish. After all, tolerance does have its limits. And, evidently, so does faithfulness to one's mission.