I am Hispanic and gay. At my institution, untenured faculty are required to submit an annual reappointment form, which summarizes one’s experience for the previous year. I filled out this important form. One question asks for a list of the professional associations to which one belongs. I listed the gay and lesbian society in my profession.
During the review process, one of the individuals with review authority called me into his office and locked the door. I was questioned about the nature of this gay and lesbian association. I replied that it was affiliated with the national association of my profession, and that one of its aims is to foster scholarship on gay and lesbian issues. I was told by this individual that “This isn’t an issue on this campus. There is only a student group, but nothing more.” I replied that tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism are the words one hears the most on this campus. I could hardly finish my sentence, as I was interrupted with the individual’s assertion that those words “don’t include the gay issue.” It was suggested that I erase the reference to my membership in the association. I refused. Further efforts to make me change my mind failed and the issue was not pursued.
My membership in the gay and lesbian group has been mentioned in my reappointment forms since the earliest days of my teaching career. Never in the past has this situation occurred. That it happened at _______, a multicultural institution, is a sad commentary. Tolerance, diversity, and multiculturalism are ideas rooted in the dignity and worth of each person, and not dependent my political expediency. And yet I know that if instead of a gay group, I had mentioned a minority organization, I would have been pressured to mention it – in italics.