"Queer Exodus" from Harvard Subject of Facebook Discussion

After 7 LGBTQ leaders leave Harvard, gay community looks for more queer scholarship

Crimson News Staff

Harvard lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy '93 posted this comment on his Facebook page on June 20, prompting concerned and frustrated responses from many prominent LGBTQ faculty and administrators.

After a going-away party for an openly gay College administrator last month, Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Timothy P. McCarthy ’93 came to a disturbing realization: Seven prominent faculty members, administrators, and staff who identify as gay or lesbian have left the University in the last two years.

Openly gay undergraduate chaplain Jonathan C. Page ’02 left Memorial Church in the summer of 2010.

In the spring of 2011, Susan B. Marine, an openly lesbian College administrator who served as assistant dean of student life and the director of the Harvard College Women’s Center, announced her resignation.

Last summer, Paul J. McLoughlin, who is openly gay, stepped down from his post as senior adviser to the Dean of the College.

Openly gay History and Literature lecturer Ian K. Lekus left the University at the end of last summer when his teaching contract expired.

After 21 years at Harvard, Bradley S. Epps, director of undergraduate studies in Romance studies and director of graduate studies in women, gender, and sexuality, who identifies as queer, will not return in the fall.

Neither will openly gay Divinity School professor Mark D. Jordan, whose work focuses on ethics, Christianity, and sexuality.

And this August, Associate Dean of Student Life Joshua G. McIntosh, who is openly gay, will leave University Hall.

“I kind of woke up the next day [after McIntosh’s going-away party] and thought, ‘Wow, we've lost a lot of folks,’” said McCarthy, who is openly gay. “These aren't just people who happen to be gay or lesbian—they were incredibly visible, incredibly dedicated, incredibly talented, and incredibly important to the University.”

That day, June 20, McCarthy posted a status update on his Facebook account that listed the many departures.

”This queer exodus is a terrible thing for Harvard, its students, and its intellectual, political, and moral orientation,” McCarthy wrote.

Eight of McCarthy’s Facebook friends, including several of the gay and lesbian administrators he had named, posted comments on his status update that expressed concern or frustration.

Two of those former administrators who commented on McCarthy’s post, Marine and McLoughlin, did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article. Epps, also a participant in the Facebook discussion, declined to be interviewed for this article.

But interviews with five of the participants in the Facebook discussion and others largely suggest that as Harvard’s first-ever permanent director of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer student life starts work this week, all is not well according to gay and lesbian employees at Harvard.

Vanidy “Van” Bailey–who was tapped for the position last month after the original appointee, Lee Forest, turned it down just days before she was supposed to start last fall–is charged with becoming the face of a community that has recently lost many of its most prominent leaders.