So here's some good news from Smith College to balance out the recent episode of transphobia from the Admissions Office—a new exhibit called "A Queer History of Smith College: 1970-2004" opened yesterday in the college archives' reading room (and yes, that is a pretty highly visible area in the context of academic geekdom). The exhibit was curated by two current seniors, who, according to the article in the Smith College Sophian, wanted to "explore the history of Smith's queer student life in a public way, in the hopes of making campus more aware of the history that allows us to enjoy the relatively easy culture that we do now."
Perhaps it's a bit of random serendipity, but I couldn't agree more with this assessment, especially in this season of Passover, when us Jews are encouraged (some might say commanded) to remember how our slavery started: we got comfy in Egypt and started taking too much for granted. I can certainly see this happening at Smith, where the last 20 years have been pretty comfy for the queers (apologies, trans & genderqueer friends), to the point where it's common for graduating Smith seniors to panic when the realize they have to "leave the bubble" and try to be gay "in the real world."
Would it shock you to know that the most famous anti-gay hate crime at Smith College happened not in the 1970's or 80's, but in 1990? It's been commemorated every year since by an enormous campus-wide parade followed by general partying and revelry, including goofy middle-school style dance performances, roving bands of head shavers, and spoof skits of a world where queer is more mainstream than straight. It used to be called "Celebration of Sisterhood," but now it's just "Celebration," a move voted on by the student body-- not the administration-- in solidarity with the trans and gender non-conforming community.
We've come a long way, baby-- but I'm glad to know that the current generation of undergrads isn't forgetting where they come from, or the struggles that paved the way for their freedom.