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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Compton: A&M rich in ‘queer history’

Knowing Texas A&M’s history, including the quieter gay history at the University, is important, D’Lane Compton said.
“Its no one’s fault, we just don’t have a very visible history,” said Compton, a graduate student studying sociology.
Compton presented her research of the gay history at A&M in correlation with Gay Awareness Week Wednesday night in Rudder Tower. Sponsored by the Women’s Gender and Equity Resources Center, “Queer Aggie History” explored the history of the GLBT community at A&M.
“I am fascinated with sexual orientation, especially in areas where people are assumed to be one way,” Compton said. “There are a large number of people in rural areas with diverse sexual orientations.”
In 1976 several A&M students petitioned the University asking for the formation of a group called Gay Student Services, Compton said. The University, under President John Koldus, refused to approve the organization because it conflicted with A&M’s core values, she said.
In response, the students took the issue to court, eventually appealing its way to the Supreme Court, where the court sided in favor of the students, she said.
Much of A&M’s gay history has been more prevalent in the recent past, Compton said. In the late 1980s a gay member in the Corps of Cadets sought to remove a question from the Corps application asking applicants’ sexual orientation.
In 1993, Aggie Allies was formed and the first GLBT course was offered in the English department. GLBT courses have since been offered in history, sociology and psychology.
In addition, several departments research sexual issues. These include studies in the sociology department and a study on gay fruit flies in the biomedical science department and College of Medicine, Compton said.
Compton said much of her research points toward the gay culture resulting from A&M’s origins as an all-male institution. The GLBT community has found a way to exist cohesively with Aggie ideas, she said.
“It’s assumed we have issues with extreme right groups, but people here have been very understanding or, at the very least, polite,” Compton said.
GAW calls attention to GLBT awareness and acknowledges students’ fight to end sexual discrimination, said Brenda Bethman, director of the Women’s Center.
“(GAW) is the anniversary of the fight for the gay students to have a group and we need to publicize the fact that the institution took this to the Supreme Court to not let students have a group,” Bethman said. “The ’90s wasn’t that long ago so we need to let people know what these students fought for.”
Leah DeVun, an assistant professor of history, is originally from New York, but said she has found A&M to be accepting of the GLBT community.
“A lot of people think GLBT issues are outside of A&M,” DeVun said. “There are queer students and faculty throughout A&M’s history. We would like to have a GLBT presence here to support future GLBT students. There’s no incompatibility with being an Aggie and being gay.”
CORRECTIONA front page article Thursday incorrectly stated John Koldus’ title. He was the vice president for student services.

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