morehouse manhood mayhem

A year after the controversy surrounding Morehouse’s “Appropriate Attire Policy” and on the heels of a string of suicides committed by LGBT youth, Aliya S. King profiles former and current gender-bending students in “The Mean Girls of Morehouse” @ Morehouse president Robert Franklin lobbed a preemptive strike against the piece in his letter to alumni. One alumnus, R. L’Heureux Lewis hopes that King’s piece will spark necessary dialogues about fear, intolerance, and narrow definitions of manhood in black communities.

Having also attended an HBCU, I witnessed the silence surrounding sexuality firsthand. Students at my alma mater, Howard University, are mourning the death of Aiyisha Hassan, a nineteen year old whose struggle with her sexual identity caused her to take her own life. With the founding of the Coalition of Activist Students Celebrating the Acceptance of Diversity and Equality (CASCADE), Howard is beginning to address the issues that LGBT students face. Similarly Morehouse College’s Safe Space has increased awareness of homophobia on campus. Long perceived as safe havens from the racism of majority institutions, can black colleges provide spaces of belonging for our queer youth?


About jennifer williams

Jennifer D. Williams is a writer and professor of English and Women's and Gender Studies. She has published in academic journals and online at, PopMatters, among other sites. Jennifer is currently working on a book that looks at black women's urban literature between the Depression and the civil rights era.

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