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An officially recognized homosexual organization has been established for the first time at Harvard.
The Harvard Graduate Student Homophile Association is an outgrowth of a Boston-based organization called the Student Homophile League, which includes members from M. I. T., B. U., Northeastern. Brandeis, Tufts, and other Boston-area colleges.
The Student Homophile League was formed two months ago. At the same time its organizers started an officially recognized chapter at B. U. so that they would be able to secure rooms for their meetings.
The Harvard group-with about 20 members and an executive committee of three-arose out of an organizational meeting held last Sunday evening.
The members decided to make the existence of their organization known, but have been generally wary of publicity. Homosexnal acts. even between consenting partners, are illegal in Massachusetts and all the other states of the Union except Illinois.
The laws are rarely enforced, but homosexuality still is not widely socially accepted by the public. Homosexuals are often fired from their jobs, expelled from schools, and harassed by police when their homosexuality is revealed.
In this country there are an estimated 10 million homosexuals, but only such large cities as New York, San Francisco, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, and Bostonare comparatively "safe" for them. In the last few months a "Gay Liberation" movement has been publicly allying itself with other New Left movements. For example, last weekend there was a Gay Liberation table and delegation at the large anti-war conference in Cleveland.
And on Wednesday evening at Harvard a speaker from the Young Americans for Freedom defended "the right of a homosexual to exist in a free society."
A spokesman for the new Graduate Student Homophile Association. Harry L. Phillips Jr., said his group had given J. Petersen Elder, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, a list of officers last Tuesday.
Phillips said that turning in such a list to the dean was the only requirement for making an organization officially recognized. Official Harvard organizations can use Harvard rooms for their meetings, post notices on Harvard bulletin boards, and use the name "Harvard" for non-commercial purposes.
Elder was in California yesterday, unavailable for comment. However, Phillips said that his group's discussions with Elder about forming the organization had been agreeable.
Columbia University has had for the last two years an undergraduate homophile association which, since the Fall of 1968, has set up a table at registration along with many other Columbia organizations to solicit new members.
Representatives of the Graduate Student Homophile Association said they plan to use their status as a Harvard organization to obtain University facilities for distributing information and organizing new members. Most of their social and political activities, they said would still be held by the more widely based Boston Student Homophile League.
Said one of the members, "The atmosphere at Harvard is the best of any place I've ever lived; I, personally, have experienced no harassment."
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