Closeted Harvard Students Inadvertently Outed By Facebook

Apparently some Harvard students don't realize that everything you do on social networks should be considered public, because The Crimson just published a story about Facebook-using undergrads being inadvertently outed to their parents when friends and events post LGBT-related items on their walls.

FacebookAs The Crimson puts it, "Queer students, especially, have found that ‘the closet’ on the Internet does not provide a very good lock."

Understanding Facebook’s privacy settings can be challenging, particularly due to frequent policy changes. Because of incidents like these, students said that they have become more cautious when using social media sites.

What's more interesting though are the precautions that some Harvard LGBT groups take to help protect the privacy of their possibly-closeted members:

Most of the BGLTQ groups on campus have varying forms of privacy clauses in their constitutions that allow students to hide or censor their membership to preserve confidentiality.

“Some [queer groups] are especially focused on being safe spaces where people can kind of explore themselves and come to terms with themselves,” [Allison Gofman ’14, leader of the queer Jewish organization BAGELS] said. “It’s important that you feel free to have people to talk to without having that go out to the whole world.”

QSA, the largest queer student group on campus, goes to great lengths to ensure students’ privacy by instituting policies regarding posting photos or recording names of members who speak during meetings. They also allow club officers to go by aliases on their website.

The upside of The Crimson's tale is that the two students they interviewed ended up being happy that Facebook outed them, so there's that. But remember kids, everyone can see everything you do online forever. If you don't want your business to be known, don't go online.

What's more troubling is the rising trend of haters using social networks to locate and commit violence against LGBT people — scary stuff indeed.


  1. I wont grow up says

    Anyone who posts personal information on the internet and expects it to remain private is a moron. They should be forced to sit in the corner and wear a helmet so they don’t hurt themselves. These kids went to Harvard, sheeesh, what does that say about Harvard ?!?!

  2. Paul R says

    Harvard has both among the most impressive and stupidest students I’ve seen at any school. (The disparity is usually due to money and connections for the dumb ones—as always.)

    If these 16-22 year olds didn’t know anything about online privacy, they’re idiots. It’s Facebook. And they should know a whole lot more about it than me.

  3. Rick says

    “there is no such thing as “BGLTQ”

    LOL. Yeah, that’s a new one. I always thought the L came first in LGBT because effeminate gay men always get their butts kicked by lesbians and are not about to stand up to them under any circumstances, so the L should take precedence over all. Of course, if you were going to be logical about it, the G should come first because it really encompasses in some way all the others (except T, which should not be there att all), if G means being sexually attracted to members of the same gender.

    Putting the B first is interesting–it makes sense in that the B group is numerically the largest, but then again, they are the least “oppressed” since they can fit in to straight society whenever they want to, so by that criterion, they should be last.

    Q is totally meaningless–if it stands for “queer”, then it is not a separate category from all the others….if it stands for “questioning”, then it encompasses the entire human race, since all people are always questioning their true sexuality.

  4. JonnyNYNY2FLFL says

    Don’t forget that college kids are still very young (18-21 in most cases). They might not be ready to come out. It’s painful to have your homosexuality discovered by some means other than on your own terms.

    However, they will eventually be thankful the issue of their sexually has been resolved by any means. To struggle throughout adulthood is a terrible fate. Perhaps leaving clues on social media is really just a cry for help.

  5. Cornbot says


    I heard that it’s now called LGBT, rather than the original GLBT, because some years ago LG corp sponsored a GLBT event and at their request, because subliminal marketing, asked for LG to come first.

    Can anyone confirm this?

  6. Kris says

    please don’t quote the QSA or BAGELS, the two most marginal student organizations at Harvard. Both do nothing on campus aside from meeting and talking about a bunch of plans everyone is too lazy to execute. Next.

  7. Eric26 says

    Asking Rick for clarification? That is unwise. He can only help you become a self loathing bigot.

  8. Cornbot says


    Probably true. Racist gay white males are the worst. No doubt that is what “Rick” is.

  9. jamal49 says

    Rick, honey, you’re more obnoxious than usual today which is saying something for you. And, what IS this obsession of yours with “effeminacy”? What are you? Some self-loathing, closeted, sissy fag homo?

    A quick observation: one gets the feeling the Crimson article was written by a straight person. You know, sort of a “walk on the wild side” experience for the writer and in an effort to add some “hip cred”, the writer botched it and wrote BGLTQ without understanding the significance of the acronym.

    Personally, one hopes that one day we can live in an acronym-free world, if for any reason so that we don’t have to read your silly takes on what LGBTQ might mean.

    Anyway, most of us here regard you, Rick, with bemused disdain. One wishes that you could be done away with, banished forever from our magical LGBTQ kingdom. But what is a magical kingdom without the troll lurking under the bridge over the moat?

    Even so, one so wants the opportunity to meet you in person and then slap the hell out of you for at least 3 to 4 hours.

  10. Darian says

    Gay people are not queer.

    I am not “Rick” or any of the posters above. I don’t know why there is this need to attribute every dissenting opinion to a Great Satan known as Rick. I suppose it is to invalidate th opinions and avoid a substantive discussion.

    There are good reasons why we should not call ourselves queer. This is not about reclaiming an old slur. It is about defining gay people as permanent outsiders. Of course, gay people might be outsiders. But “queer” takes away their freedom to chart their own course in life. It takes away the agency that every human being is entitled to.

    For any gay young person to be told this is horrific. That elite gay youth at Harvard would be told this is laughable.

  11. Cornbot says


    The irony is that while we are called queer, the truest meaning of that word can be applied to the enduring (but ending) quality of bigotry against natural born homosexual and bisexual individuals, which is absurd in nature and against inborn ethics.

    We did all get along, but then something happened …

  12. John says

    I agree with many of the other posters. I find it incredibly offensive for a gay person to be referred to as “queer” under the guise of reclaiming the term. It’s a hateful, pejorative word, used as a weapon by the bigoted, that has caused many kids to kill themselves. The people behind the organization should be shamed.

  13. will says

    One of the reasons we started being called queer in the first place is the definition of the word:

    1. Deviating from the expeccted or normal; strange

    2. Of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady

    3. Not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint

    4. Mentally unbalanced or deranged

    Then came “effeminate, unmanly”, a disparaging term for a homosexual person

    Really. It’s not worth “reclaiming”. Old hate and blood are attached to it. Let it go.

  14. Bob R says

    To me it is GLBT. That’s the way it used to be and still is as far as I’m concerned. I really don’t know when it was changed or why. I also resent the “Q” addition. If you want to call yourself queer (as in odd, peculiar or strange) fine. Or maybe “Q” is for “queen” to denote effeminate gay men. How’s that for an idea, Rick?

    I’m a gay male or a homosexual. Next thing you know the alphabet soup will be LGBTQD. D for dyke. It’s all stupid. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender pretty much covers it. That’s my opinion.

  15. Paul R says

    My opinion is that if people stopped responding to Rick and his various aliases, comments on this site would dry up and possibly become useful like they once were.

  16. mitch reid says

    Employers are looking at Facebook, Twitter, and etc and discrimination is alive in 2013. Many young people are using Snap Chat which erases itself after 10 seconds.

    Young people are not sophisticated enough to use different email addresses. Give me an email address and I can look up your Amazon Wish List and all the Ben Cohen videos you watched on YouTube.

  17. Bill says

    @Eric26: keep in mind that there are probably some students with religious parents who would cut off financial support if they found out their son was gay. The kid may be out to everyone at school, but may not want to let the folks back home know for understandable reasons: $$$$.

  18. FFS says

    If you’re on facebook, I judge you. If you’re facebook friends with your parents, everyone judges you.

    Don’t mind Rick. He’s just butthurt over the fact that he’s never been able to beat a lesbian at arm wrestling.

  19. ratbastard says

    I can personally attest to the often bizarre and contradictory behavior of the best and brightest, students and faculty alike, in places like Harvard. In fairness to Harvard, MIT is worse in this regard.

  20. andrew says

    @RICK: “all people are always questioning their true sexuality” WHAT???? That is just flat out WRONG. The great majority of people are quite certain of their “true sexuality”.

  21. andrew says

    @RATBASTARD: Are you personally attesting to “the often bizarre and contradictory behavior” of students and faculty “at places like Harvard” or at Harvard? How do you know that “MIT is worse in this regard”?

  22. emjayay says

    “Queer” was the cool new term in about the early 90’s for gay to gayish people of any gender. It was about owning and repurposing an epithet and including everybody. And “gay” was pretty much synonymous with gay men, so we were looking for a new term that included both genders or anyone who didn’t want to relate to gender etc. Hence Queer Nation.

    I think we still have Queer Studies. I also kind of think its day has kind of come and gone. Some things are useful and then the usefullness fades. It seems like “gay” can cover everyone now. Back in 1997 Ellen’s character said “I’m gay” on her sitcom and she came out on the cover of Time with “Yep, I’m gay”.

    LGBT has become the norm, used officially by Obama (LGBT Pride Month) etc. I think it won over GLBT because it doesn’ put men, always the most visible gay people, first. And lesbians of course tend to want us to be politically correct. But even more, it puts three rhyming letters (gee-bee-tee) in a row, and creates an internal rhyme as well(ell-GEE/bee-TEE), so it just rolls of the tongue better.

  23. MaddM@ says

    There are still Queer Studies and Queer Theory although they don’t de facto equate to homosexuality

    Btw I’m gay and queer

    and you can’t make me identify differently (nyah nyah nyah :b)

  24. DW says

    Perhaps the writer used “BGLTQ,” in that order, because it’s alphabetical and thus doesn’t have to make a judgment call about who deserves top billing. (Can someone from Harvard inform us if that’s common usage on campus?)

    As for “queer”: that train has left the station and there’s no sense grumbling about it. A few decades ago people railed against the appropriation of the word “gay,” including some men who preferred to call themselves “homophile.” People will choose what they want to call themselves.

  25. says

    I self-identify as Queer and unlike many an “I hate Queer!” commenter, I don’t shy away from embracing what makes me different. I’m not the norm, and have no desire to be perceived as a “common”. *elegant curtsy*

    also – if you’re closeted, best be to avoid all things internet related. mmmkay?

  26. Steve says

    “The closet” doesn’t have a window or balcony: there is no fresh air or sunlight available.

    I suspect that students have something to fear because of family money or social power structure. How pitiful. Your folks already know you’re gay, they just deny it. Your friends already know you’re gay, they just talk behind your back.

    It is a sad state of stupidity to choose living in fear. Someone always has the goods on you.