During the past two years CLAGS has been able to provide(in addition to its Rockefeller Fellowships) two annual awards in gay and lesbian studies. The $4,000 David Healy Clarke Award is limited to a CUNY Graduate School student writing a dissertation with gay and lesbian content in any fie ld, and the $5,000 Ken Dawson Prize is open to anyone working in the field of lesbian and gay history. More recently, the CLAGS Board voted a small sum (1st prize: $250; 2nd prize: $150) to be given annually for the best graduate student paper with gay and lesbian content written for a seminar. None of this is enough. Not nearly enough.
There are an ever-increasing number of openly gay and lesbian graduate students already at work, or planning soon to be, on doctoral dissertations with gay and lesbian subject matter. These students are entering a field not yet fully defined, without hope of the usual “perks” associated with academia. And indeed at considerable risk – for homophobia is alive and well on many college campuses — to their future scholarly careers.
Now that CLAGS is more firmly established, we want to move the plight of these brave, openly lesbian and gay graduate students to the top of our agenda. They are the ones who will be doing the research that in the future will shape public imagery of gay and lesbian lives, which will, in turn, be translated into legislative and judicial decisions. Their activism — and that is what this kind of scholarship is — is crucial to creating a less homophobic world. We owe it to these daring young scholars, who are unable to turn to traditional sources for funding, to do everything possible to support their research.
To that end, we have established the Graduate Student Thesis Fund and have written to our $1 00-plus donors to solicit contributions. In response to that appeal some money has begun to come in, but more is still needed.
I am therefore taking this opportunity to ask all of you who get this newsletter – some 7,000 by latest count! – to send in whatever you can to help this crucial drive succeed. The young scholars who are entering and building the field of lesbian and gay studies are entitled to nothing less than our full support.