Sunday, September 9


[this is 2006 but still relevant post from the critic Doug Ireland I recently stumbled upon...]

My friend Larry Kramer has just provided me a copy of a letter he's fired off to the Yale Daily News. I found it quite revealing about Larry's alma mater, to which Larry's brother gave a million dollars a few years ago to endow a lesbian and gay studies project in Larry's name. I was deeply upset when Yale's leadership engineered the ouster as the project's director of the excellent Jonathan Katz (co-founder of Queer Nation, founder of the Harvey Milk Institute, and former chair of the gay studies department at the City College of San Francisco.) Larry's letter draws back the curtain on the reasons for Jonathan's firing. Here it is in its entirety:

"How fascinating to read that the LGBTQ Task Force is calling on the Yale Yale_logo administration for a full-time coordinator and the establishment of a community center. (YDN, March 1.) Good luck to this Task Force. One of the first things I sought when beginning my negotiations with Yale a million years ago was for a gay student center and boy was I turned down fast. The same reaction came from the administration when Jonathan Katz, LKI’s [the Larry Kramer Initiative's] first and last director, requested a full-time coordinator for gay concerns. No again.

" I do not think that anyone realizes how uncomfortable this administration, this university, is with most things gay. Despite lots of window dressing to the contrary, when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of things, we embarrass too many higher ups and too many rich alums and donors, who have evidently made this discomfort known.

"Almost from day one of its existence, LKI got into trouble. We discovered that James Sterling, Yale’s famous early benefactor, had been gay his entire life. We proudly Jonathan_katz outed him. This did not go down well, it now appears, not only at Yale but at Shearman and Sterling, the mammoth and powerful lawfirm James Sterling founded. From that outing to the recent actual removal of Jonathan Katz (left, with Larry Kramer) from the Yale faculty has been almost five years of pain and struggle of LKI to stay true to its founder’s, and it's director's, principals of honesty and devotion to the history of gay people. Jonathan's life was made miserable. This battle with and at Yale has been lost, at least so it presently seems to me.

"In my continuing investigation of just why Jonathan is no longer there and why LKI is, to all intents and purposes, no longer there, I am discovering so much that is hateful to gay people at Yale that, quite frankly, I do not know what to do. I do know that Yale does not want gay history to be taught in too much detail. The “outing” of Robert Rauschenberg, someone known and acknowledged to be gay by everyone but himself, at Jonathan’s exhibition of Rauschenberg's ex-lover's collection in Jonathan Edwards College also got Jonathan in great trouble, it now appears. One wonders what all the rich Republicans would do if the homosexuality of Abraham Lincoln, the subject of a recent important book and study, were actually included anywhere on Yale's syllabus. LKI was founded to discover the history of my people. Yale is not interested, indeed to such an extent that I have considered commencing a suit for the return of my brother’s one million dollars, which I am now more and more discovering was accepted by the university under false pretences."

(signed:) Larry Kramer
Founder, The Larry Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Yale