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Gay Club Founder Lauded at Brooklyn College Graduation

Smith

The New York Daily News reports on a notable graduate from Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. Albert Smith (left), who started the school's first gay and lesbian club, was the target of frequent homophobic slurs for doing so but was cheered as he collected his diploma:

"'I made a mark for myself and the college, too,' said Smith, 29, who lives in Flatbush. 'It was the greatest feeling in the world to know I had so many supporters.' Smith's popularity at Medgar Evers didn't happen overnight - nor did support for the Life Club, the first school-sanctioned gay and lesbian awareness group in the college's 38-year history. Comprised mainly of Caribbean-American and black students, the college is rampantly homophobic, said Smith and other openly gay students at Medgar Evers. Club President Lamont Joseph (right), 22, helped create the group three years ago, but the club was only sanctioned in July. At the first meeting, only Joseph and another student were present, but fears of harassment caused Medgar Evers to station a security guard outside just in case. 'People weren't always welcoming, but the staff was,' said Joseph, who still attends the school. In one case, a belligerent student confronted Joseph at a club fair at the school, grabbed candy the group was handing out and threatened harm if the group continued. School officials said they were fully supportive of the group - it now has about 30 members - but acknowledged that bigotry on campus was rampant."

Medgar Evers College cheers graduate from its 1st gay club [nydn]

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  1. Now, that I've calmed down about the Siriano thread the other day (and the nasty criticism that that accomplished young gay person received from "grown" gay men), I can appreciate another young man who shows that courage is often a natural attribute of many young gay people. A gay highschooler who cared about the welfare of other young gay people--often risking his own safety.

    I admire courageous young Albert Smith & the courageous members of his highschool's gay club, and the courageous Siriano (I can't remember the child's first name--is it George?).

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 11, 2008 1:21:51 PM


  2. His name is CHRISTIAN Siriano. Where'd the hell I get "George"? Well, anyway, another young gay person to admire for achieving in the face of persecution...even from other gay people.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 11, 2008 1:32:49 PM


  3. I believe Medgar Evers is a college, not a high school...

    Posted by: JP | Jun 11, 2008 1:39:16 PM


  4. Profiles in Courage.

    Posted by: sam | Jun 11, 2008 1:47:13 PM


  5. Cool

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Jun 11, 2008 1:50:46 PM


  6. Thanks, JP. Well, Albert Smith was probably brave in highschool too, so was Siriano--Christian, not George.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jun 11, 2008 1:54:49 PM


  7. "George" fits with "Albert" and "Joseph" somehow so maybe your brian was just in that mode, D.

    Bravo to Mr. Smith and his allies. It takes balls to spit in the face of rampant and often violent homophobia. It's especially hard as a black man to see how disgustingly prejudiced "your own people" can be (not unlike how racist/prejudiced some gays can be). He deserved every cheer he received at the ceremony.

    Posted by: Chas | Jun 11, 2008 2:10:53 PM


  8. My list of heroes grows ever longer. These men are courageous in ways rarely seen in the gay rights movement today.

    Few things trouble me more than bigotry from one minority against another, be it gay racism or racial minority homophobia or gay/racial minority misogyny or female racism/homophobia.

    I know there is disagreement about whether or not it is worse when individuals of a minority group are bigoted against another, we have discussed it and argued about it at length here at Towleroad, but it is my opinion that it most certainly is. Oppressed minorities actively oppressing others is especially egregiously offensive to me.

    It saddens me to hear homophobia coming from Latino and African-American people and it makes my blood boil to hear racist comments coming from GLBT people.

    I applaud anyone who stands courageously, and often alone, to face down bigotry withing his/her own community. May I always be as vigilant and courageous as these men in the fight against bigotry within my own community(s).

    Posted by: Zeke | Jun 11, 2008 2:52:04 PM


  9. Amen

    Zeke

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Jun 11, 2008 3:35:44 PM


  10. Good for him and CONGRATULATIONS!!

    As for his fellow students, here is where my inner Theo Van Gogh comes out. I really resent these bigoted immigrants coming to this country, especially to a gay-friendly area like NY, and spreading their homophobia.

    I welcome these guys with open arms, but they have to leave their bigotry where they came from and get with the locals. Let them move to backwater parts of the south if they want to keep and act on such views.

    No one needs to fully assimilate, but I'll be damned if I'm going to allow someone who hasn't been born here to trample on my rights granted under the constitution and owed to me under simple human dignity.

    Posted by: Will | Jun 11, 2008 3:45:47 PM


  11. We must truly cheer for those who have the courage to look the beast in the eye and not back down.

    Go boys!

    Posted by: banjiboi | Jun 11, 2008 4:44:14 PM


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