Monday, June 22, 2009

When “FAGS” Become “fags”

City College Gay Group Ignores Campus Homophobia

commentary by LEO E. LAURENCE

Copyright © 2009 by Leo E. Laurence • All rights reserved

While the word “fags” has historically been used as a hate word against Gays and Lesbians, a group of them at City College is trying to reverse that image, much as young homosexuals did success-fully nationwide with the word “Queer” years ago.

There are now popular young Queer organizations on many campuses, both in high schools and colleges.

Use of the word FAGS also makes good marketing strategy, because it really catches the public’s eye on posters promoting Gay events on campus.

After a protracted struggle with the City College administrators — and particularly after resisting tough opposition from Dean of Student Affairs Denise Whisenhunt — the college reluctantly granted official student status to the FAGS organization on the last day of the fall 2008 semester.

Why Honor College Dean?

The dean’s true colors were exposed when she viciously retaliated against me for having filed a 10-page sworn complaint on March 12 alleging homophobia at City College with the San Diego Community College District.

Unfortunately for the college and district, retaliation against a student for exercising their civil rights is a violation of federal law.

A separate complaint alleging unlawful retaliation is currently pending before the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education in San Francisco. The office of Congressmember Susan Davis was looking into that federal case at press time.

Secret Trial on Campus

Dean Whisenhunt even conducted a secret trial (“disciplinary hearing”) on May 4 against me, for which there is no transcript. It was like a kangaroo court, where constitutional due process of law was totally ignored.

The hearing was elaborately scripted to appear fair, while having the outcome (conviction) pre-determined from the start.

The campus of City College where Dean Whisenhunt rules is decidedly not Gay-friendly, unlike reports from Mesa College. City once even had a Gay studies program, but no longer.

Fags vs. FAGS

There’s a big difference between a fag and the FAGS organization at City College.

Some Gays in the community have little respect for one of the prime leaders of the FAGS organiza-tion at City, Jason Frye, its unelected “president.”

He once told a reporter that he “owns” the FAGS organization, which — as a matter of law — is not possible. This bothers at least one student senator at the campus. Frye has even been reportedly 86’ed from one North Park coffeehouse for a bad attitude.

Near the end of the 2009 spring semester when I was enrolled in three classes at City, I went to a FAGS meeting on campus. Frye was in charge and verbally insulted me.

I responded by saying, “Maybe I’m in the wrong place.”

“Well, I guess you are,” he said acidly.

I left.

The treasurer of the FAGS organization is a senior citizen, Jay Murley of North Park, who has been involved in the Gay movement literally for decades. He acts like a mentor to Frye.

Murley personally engineered the FAGS entry into the July Pride Parade in Hillcrest. And who will ride in a symbolically honored position on that parade entry?

Dean Whisenhunt. She, the college and the district can be expected to exploit this in their defense against charges of homophobia now pending before the district.

Now readers can understand why some consider those involved in honoring Dean Whisenhunt by having her on the City College FAGS “float” in the Gay Pride parade to be “fags” — in the ugly, stereotypical definition of the word.

Not all FAGS members qualify for such an insult. Some are really nice guys … but its leadership now has a nasty history.

Contact Leo E. Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or at