Will Slack writes:

The extent of that problem is a matter of debate and discussion. Some people on campus – like myself – have not observed a homophobic culture on campus. For others, this culture is obvious. I admit that as a straight guy, I probably pay less attention to this stuff, just as a gay male from Boston might not pay as much attention to a prejudiced statement about the South. So that means that we need to understand each other’s perspective on the problem. Until that happens, there will be no unity or consensus about the solution.

UPDATE: Will adds:

I need to clarify this. I have observed instances of homophobia and/or prejudice, which could be interpreted as indicating the existence of a homophobic culture to go along with a culture that welcomes LGBTQ people and their sexuality. I meant to indicate that the campus culture, taken as a whole, does not appear homophobic to me.

Alumni are not the best judges of what campus culture is like at Williams now, but we could help inform debate about what the culture has been like in the past. Was there a “homophobic culture on campus” during your time at Williams? I would be interested in hearing from alumni of all ages.

I was at Williams from 1984 to 1988. It was certainly not unheard of, especially among athletes, to hear the term “fag” used but the most common intended insult was to question the target’s masculinity rather than as a direct (?) message of hatred towards homosexuals. Derogatory terms like “pussy” would have been used interchangeably in these contexts.

But, at the same time, I never witnessed (or even heard of) someone attacking a homosexual student, either verbally or physically. (I had a gay roommate.)

There was certainly a feeling that, say, defending adoption laws which favored heterosexual couples or the military’s ban on homosexuals was, ipso facto, evidence of homophobia and created a harassing environment for homosexual students. There were at least two open homosexuals on the faculty.

For the record, I was widely known as the campus homophobe, mainly because of my defense of Marine Corps recruiting and because of an ill-judged essay I wrote trying to (honestly!) explain the mixed feelings that some students felt about homosexuality. Professor Katie Kent may recall a particularly poorly constructed analogy from that article . . .

What was Williams like in your era?

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