Like The Disciplinary Record of Mr. William Lowndes Yancey, this entry comes to us from Perspectives: A Williams Anthology, edited by Frederick Rudolph ‘42.

The question is how has the College’s gay population been able to develop an identity?

“Well, some write graffiti on bathroom walls,” answers Roy (a pseudonym). “The men’s room in the basement of Stetson Hall, for instance, has had a good one for some time: ‘Gay, young, and goodlooking’ I think it says, plus a name and telephone number. One of the stalls in a Bronfman lavatory is also a reliable place for choice tidbits of local gay news and propositions.”

[…]

Has he been able to explore in Williamstown?

“Not in the least. The students here are really uptight to conform to heterosexual mores. If there’s just the slightest hint that things aren’t on the straight and narrow, ostracism, at best, is the result. The lumber-jacket, macho reputation of the fraternity days still fits.”

He hesitated, then qualified his response.

“I guess it’s a product of the Williamstown environment. If we were in or near a metropolitan area, things would be a lot different. First, you can get some degree of anonymity in a city to help you come out.”

Come out?

“That’s a gay slang term. A homosexual can have clandestine sexual experiences without ever having to come to grips with being a member of an oppressed, socially unorthodox minority. That’s because he’s not readily visible to the community like, say, a black person is; the homosexual himself is the only person who can show his neighbors that he belongs to the gay minority. ‘Coming out of the closet’ refers to the person who consciously identifies himself with that group. It’s like developing a black consciousness or a Jewish consciousness or what have you.”

Much has changed since “Roy” was at Williams. The whole thing can be found on the web here, courtesy of Daniel Pinello, the author of the article. Additionally commentary is here, but will only make sense after you read the entire first article.

In answer to Sophmom’s questions in the comments,
Professor Rudolph was Mark Hopkins Professor of History, and a former college marshall. He is and was a historian of the college and of general liberal arts curriculum, producing works such as Mark Hopkins and the Log, of which I have read excerpts for class.

Roy went on to graduate magna cum laude, with highest honors in American Civilization (Professor Rudolph chaired the program), and practiced law in New York as a partner in his own firm. Dan is currently a professor at The City University of New York. The article was the front page story of the 10/28/71 edition of the Williams Advocate.

Another post on the effects of the article will follow in a few days.

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