The Great Pink Scare
So after work today, I came home and randomly caught the end of The Great Pink Scare on PBS. It basically tells about Professors Newton Arvin, Ned Spofford, and Joel Dorius at Smith College, who were outed, arrested, and found guilty in 1960 for homosexuality and possession of gay pornography. And this is actually notable on this blog, because Ned Spofford is apparently a Classicist. What bothers me, though, is that a google search, at any rate, gives me nothing on him as a Classicist. I suppose I shall have to dig further.
Anyway, I was really touched by their story, which is apparently also told in Scarlet Professor. I think it's true that too many people of my generation just don't realize how much has been gained in the last few decades for the GLBT community and how hard it was to make that progress. And I think, particularly, Spofford and Dorius and also Helen Bacon--Spofford's dept chair--played a great role in the progress that has been made. Certain political groups may be fighting to ban gay marriages, but at least we are no longer at the point where a person can be arrested for being homosexual. That said, there is still a lot left to fight for.
But, back to Classics. I have to wonder what that did for the study of Classics in the 1950s and '60s. I mean, honestly, how much of our Classical art is nudity, particularly in males?? Where do you draw the line? Could these professors have possessed copies of Classical art? Personally, one of my favourite paintings of all time is the Delacroix Medea (which I actually wanted to use for my blog picture, but then I wondered if it was "work safe" and if you, dear readers, would thus object), and she is nude! So what does that mean for women who wanted to study the painting? (Although I guess since they used to keep women out of the raunchy parts of Pompeii, women would probably not be allowed anyway.) Or what about the statue of David? Or Antinoos? And his relationship with Hadrian?
And, quite frankly, I am really curious about what Spofford's foci were in Classics and if he even had to deal with these issues at all, or if he avoided them. He really seems like a fascinating individual.