Major Advances

When I receive copies of my college transcripts from CUNY these days, under
my major it reads, “Gay and Lesbian Studies,” followed by “Gender and Sexuality
Studies.” As far as I know, I am the first CUNY undergraduate to see such a major
on his/her transcript. I have managed to build this major through the CUNY BA program –
which allows students to fashion their own major if no campus provides it, by compiling
courses at a range of CUNY campuses – and CLAGS has been instrumental in my achieving
this goal. It makes me feel so proud to know that I am being officially acknowledged by the
CUNY system, not only for my academic interests, but also for one of my identities: a gay
male.
I didn’t start out wanting to major in LGTBQ Studies. In fact, throughout high school,
my mind was set on becoming an aerospace engineer. But after entering SUNY Buffalo, I
wanted to pursue something more meaningful and personal, and exploring space or
propulsion wasn’t satisfying that desire. Just as I was becoming more interested in the idea
of exploring the self and others, the murder of Mathew Shepard took the national
spotlight. This single event had a profound effect on me. Certainly, I was upset that he was
murdered, but I was also affected by how shocked many in the LGTBQ community were to
learn that such violence still happens. Many seem to have gotten into a comfort zone and
have settled on the little we have now. This led me to ask, “What can I do and what is my
place in the world?” I turned to LGTBQ studies and activism for answers.
As I got more involved, I found myself feeling more fulfilled. I decided to take a
semester off to think about what I really wanted to do and decide if college was really for
me. During this time of self-reflection, I concluded that my passion lays in gay and lesbian
issues and I wanted to pursue them academically. I returned to school and immediately
took steps towards fulfilling these goals. First, I tailored my classes to enhance my intended
major and successfully got an internship at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education
Network (GLSEN). Next, I found out about how the CUNY BA and CLAGS could be
structures through which I could pursue that major and get it on my transcript.
While the CUNY system has an array of LGTBQ-related courses in which to pursue
Lesbian and Gay Studies, not one college offers enough courses to make it a major. The
CUNY BA program was the obvious solution; I applied in the spring of 2000 and got
accepted that summer. One part of the application for the CUNY BA program requires
proving that there are enough courses to make a major. CLAGS played a big role in helping
me compile the different courses offered at the different colleges in CUNY by getting me in
touch with professors who are teaching them.
CLAGS is celebrating its 10th year in the field of LGTBQ Studies as I enter my first.
Although it’s unfortunate that I have to travel from Lehman College in the Bronx to Queens
College, and back to Manhattan to the Borough of Manhattan Community College
(BMCC) to take the different courses to complete my majors, I can now proudly say that
my majors are Gay and Lesbian Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies.