Thursday, November 03, 2011

A call from GWU Alumni: why did I go to GW and live at home? The WM Apology question comes up, again

Last night, I got a phone call from George Washington University Alumni, telemarketing to be sure, on my land line – and the young woman asked me, after I told her I had graduated from GWU in 1966, why I went to GW.

I did give very briefly the history of my expulsion from William and Mary in November 1961 for “admitting homosexuality”, and how times were different then, and how I then got involved in the fight to end the military “don’t ask don’t tell” (and the previous “absolute ban” on gays in the military). But I said, “it’s not easy to answer a question like this quickly to an alumni marketer on a phone call quickly.”  She said, she understood.

My parents had worried, around 1962 when I started going to GWU while “living at home” in Arlington (being “unfit” for  communal dorm life), that this “problem” would follow me for life.  In getting security clearances, for openers.  Later, when I lived in a dorm at the University of Kansas as a grad student and then served in the Army without incident, my “reputation” was repaired. Well, not completely.

If you watch the opening of the movie “The Social Network” in BluRay, you see how times have really changed, on campus.

The notion that I could pursue getting a formal apology from the College of William and Mary came up during the Homecoming Weekend in Williamsburg recently (sponsored by GALA, William and Mary Gay and Lesbian Alumi(ae), founded in 1986).  Is it appropriate?  Would the College want me to be silent about the issue from now on? Not possible – it was too important (however indirectly) in overcoming “don’t ask don’t tell”.  Had I not been in the battle very publicly with this story (for almost 20 years, to my mother’s chagrin we might not have the full Repeal now.


I really haven’t decided for sure on the Apology Issue yet.  Maybe I’ll talk to attorneys again. I did talk to the ACLU (Atlanta office, which covers Virginia) in 2007.  But I’m quite struck by “something else”.  That is, we all face our own special challenges.  Yes (as Trump says), “life isn’t fair” when others don’t face the same challenges, but turn that statement around, and realize I didn’t face challenges others face, like cancer (at least through age 68), or being wounded in war, or any number of other things.  In that sense, “equality” (as some on the radical Left demand) really isn’t possible.  People today have their freedoms because of the sacrifices of others that went before them.  WM was in a sense part of my “sacrifice”, but then I in turn depend on the sacrifices of “The Greatest Generation”, whether Tom Brokaw or my own parents.  The irony now seems that, “equality” as a progressive sees it today becomes possible (only) when people are tied into common goals shared by others (including family).  So sometimes the “group rights” that seem to be demanded by the Occupy Movement do matter.

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