Last semester at
Stetson University in Florida a conservative campus
magazine called Common Sense featured a picture
on its back cover of a rainbow flag with a question mark
superimposed on it. To my surprise, it was a digitally
altered photo of my dorm room window, which has a
pride flag hanging in it.
confronted, the magazine staff said they wanted to
"start a discussion," and they certainly
got what they were asking for. The photo sparked a
campuswide controversy, which resulted in an investigation
by administrators. Questions were raised about whether
the magazine had violated any school policies.
director of the Cross Cultural Center at Stetson, wrote a
scathing letter to the magazine's advertisers,
attacking them on the grounds that their funds were
being used to support a magazine that attacks
diversity. Others on campus, gay and straight, were angry
and demanded an apology. They didn't get one.
conversations were had on whether the back cover image was a
use of free expression or an attack on what my flag
represented. I pointed out that as gay people we must
be careful when we talk of silencing anyone. We
celebrate the Day of Silence to remember how our community
was silenced for speaking our minds and harming the
status quo. We should beware that we in turn could
become the silencers and destroy the freedoms of
As the chaos that
surrounded the magazine photo begins to settle, I
don't see any drastic changes at Stetson. The
school continues to vow support of diversity and is
still investigating the matter--as far as I know. My
flag is still waving from Stetson Hall, and Common Sense is
expected to publish more issues.
But the matter
has created a fulcrum with which gay students can pursue
recognition of who they are. It's not the topics
being discussed as much as the fact that the
conversations are taking place. From the scenic quad
in the middle of campus to the classrooms in Davis Hall,
students are actually talking about gay issues.