The University course titled “How to be Gay: Male Homosexuality
and Initiation” continues to receive scrutiny in its third year at
the University. Since the course’s inception, it has received
criticism from conservatives who claim material taught in the class
is morally objectionable.

Janna Hutz

This year, the course is raising eyebrows once again, including
those of state Rep. Jack Hoogendyk (R-Kalamazoo) and the American
Family Association. AFA President Gary Glenn said that attention
would continue to rise because “as more people learn about it, more
people get upset.”

Hoogendyk said taxpayer dollars should not be used to teach a
lifestyle choice such as homosexuality. “There is a difference
between studying a culture or lifestyle, but it is not the same as
an indoctrination class.”

The class instructor, English Prof. David Halperin, said the
English Department has been very supportive of the course and class
enrollment has increased every year since 2000.

He added that the criticism has not influenced the manner in
which the course is taught.

“None of these politicians have ever contacted me to find out
anything about the course, to ask for a copy of the syllabus, to
find out what I’m doing in it or what the theory behind it is,”
Halperin said.

The three-credit course, a section of English 317, is billed on
the University’s website as examining “the role that initiation
plays in the formation of gay male identity.”

It “examine(s) a number of cultural artifacts and activities
that seem to play a prominent role in learning how to be gay:
Hollywood movies, grand opera, Broadway musicals, and other works
of classical and popular music, as well as camp, diva-worship,
drag, muscle culture, taste, style, and political activism.”

“The complaint is that taxpayer money should not go toward a
course which is deemed by most to be morally objectionable or to
promote a lifestyle that significantly raises one’s chances of a
shorter lifespan or mental illness,” said AFA’s Glenn. He said
college men who are gay could die up to 20 years younger than the
average population.

Noting that the University has one of the best English programs
in the state, Halperin said, “Taxpayers have good reason to pleased
about the direction in which the English Department and the
University have been moving, and to think their money is being well

Hoogendyk plans to meet with University officials in hopes of
auditing some of the class sessions and viewing the syllabus.

“I have heard that (English 317: How to Be Gay) is not about how
to be gay and if I am incorrect in my assertions, I would be the
first one to say so,” he said.















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