One week ago, Harvard was blessed with National Coming Out Day. You may not have noticed it, and if you didn't, count yourself lucky.
In contrast to past years, it was possible to go through the day without being bombarded by propaganda. The rally at Widener was a failure and the postering effort--a few, scattered 'Happy Homo' posters--was poor compared to past years.
Of course, some havens for homosexuality never die. Five hundred Adams House students pasted pink-triangle stickers to themselves and danced to disco in a house dinner to honor this day. The fun never ends at Harvard. Bad music and pink triangles for the low price of $26,000. Can't wait to tell my parents....
Now Harvard's apathetic reaction to this year's event is understandable. It may even be a function of the movement's past success. On National Coming Out Day, the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA) is simply preaching to the converted.
According to BGLSA President Royce Lin '96, "The purpose of Coming Out Day is to celebrate and encourage people to come out and be proud of themselves if they are bisexual, gay or lesbian." But how many homosexual Harvard students are still in the closet? Two? Three?
At places like Harvard, you don't need to devote a particular day of the year to pressuring individuals unsure of their sexual orientation to label themselves homosexual. Their peers, the campus press and numerous extracurriculars devoted to issues of sexuality are already pressuring the ambivalent to label themselves as gay or lesbian.
Then there's the issue of gay pride. We've heard many stories about gay teenagers with low self-esteem who have done terrible things to themselves. Obviously, homosexual students must understand that their orientation doesn't make them any less valuable as people.
Maybe the suicide rate among gay teenagers would be lower if more of them read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Church, mistakenly viewed by many as an enemy of homosexuals, in fact states that they "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity."
But I still find the whole focus on "gay pride" a bit silly. Let me tell a fairy tale. A long time ago, society used to make a connection between pride and accomplishment.
I know it's an outdated custom that discriminates against the mediocre, but linking societal validation and achievement made a lot of sense. After all, you shouldn't take pride in something which a) you had no hand in bringing about and b) is morally neutral.
Being homosexual isn't some great accomplishment that you achieve through years of hard work. It's not a talent you must cultivate with five hours of practice a day, like ice skating or violin playing. It's an identity, nothing more. If we're going to celebrate random identities, we shouldn't discriminate. I propose People With Black Hair Day, Freckled People's Week and Left-Handed Pride Month, for starters.
National Coming Out Day is just another event in the recent rash of identity-based pride rallies. These alleged celebrations of diversity have devolved into mutual masturbation festivals. They reassure people who are still deeply troubled by their lifestyle choices and are desperately seeking a stamp of approval. We have a duty to deny them this approval.
At wonderful liberal places like Harvard. National Coming Out Day is entirely superfluous. Why don't we just make it a month, or better yet, a whole year! Then we can have disco parties every night...
David R. Lat's column appears on alternate Tuesdays.