Morehouse College students began classes at the school's highly anticipated new LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual) course this week. The course is the first of its kind at the legendary historically black college and will focus on the history of LGBT culture, politics and social structures.
"A Genealogy of Black LGBT Culture and Politics" meets twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will outline various concepts in Black feminism, cultural theories, and the methodology behind them.
"The course was basically student initiated," Morehouse College Sociology Chair Dr. Michael Hodge said. "They asked if they could have a time where Professor Allen from Yale University would meet with them and initially it was going to be a weekly, bi-weekly group conversation."
The Ford Foundation, which funds Morehouse's Faces of Manhood Initiative, had a goal of offering courses that would discuss special topics such as sexuality, masculinities, sex, and healthy relationships at Morehouse College, which helped make the campaign for the class a reality.
The course will seek to further engage students in cutting-edge interdisciplinary learning, as well as contribute to the transformational gender context of being homosexual at the Atlanta University Center, and beyond.
"There is one thing that this class and its purpose shows is that Morehouse isn't as traditional and conservative as it once was," Michael Thomas, a Senior Finance major said. "But is that a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to producing Men of Morehouse? We shall see."
Student reaction to the class thus far has been positive with more than 20 people registered for the class; a number of them from neighboring Spelman College.
"The issues are not just LGBT," said Hodge. "The real focus of this project will be the problems of masculinity and the expressions of manhood that we have, whether it's our felt responsibility to families or anything that we consider that goes along with the role of being a man. That's what this is all about."
SafeSpace, a campus student advocacy organization and homosexual-heterosexual alliance, partnered with Yale University professor Dr. Jafari Allen in order to bring the idea into full effect. Allen, who was once a student at Morehouse, agreed to teach the course throughout the semester via video conference from Yale.
"Typically we have a history of not really recognizing or sexually identifying non-confirmative students," said Kenneth Pass, President of Morehouse College's SafeSpace. "Homophobia, Transphobia, and all these different type of phobias are kind of ingrained somewhat in the institutional and cultural values, even at the individual level.
"The real initiative is to break up monotony and complacency with heterosexist nature and challenge people to look past what they have been presented and dive into what is black LGBT and what it is all about."
On January 31, SafeSpace will host the Atlanta premiere of Amir Dixon's film "Friend of Essex", a docudrama about the lives of young black gay men at Morehouse. The film explores the intersections of race, identity, and sexuality.
A free screening will take place at 7:00 pm in the Bank of America auditorium. More information on the film premiere can be found at MorehouseSafeSpace.org.
Photo: Creative Commons.