Phi Beta Cons

Yale Cancels Gay Porn Star’s Visit

The question is: Why?

Today, the Yale Daily News announced that a scheduled campus visit by a gay porn star has been canceled. This particular “actor” is best known for two things: making porn while he was still a minor, and not using condoms, which are standard in the gay-porn industry. He was supposed to speak on campus as part of “Gay Pride Month.”

It isn’t entirely clear from the article why the event was canceled. A student organizer cited schedule conflicts, but he also stated, cryptically, that “there was faculty involvement” in the decision. He could not say what that “faculty involvement” entailed.

Perhaps controversy over Yale’s highly pornified “Sex Week” back in February has caused administrators to crack down on the endless stream of porn stars lecturing Yale’s students. Or perhaps a condom-free gay-porn star doesn’t mesh well with the university’s relentless program of “safe sex” promotion.

I think the latter is a more likely source of faculty objections. The fact is, Yale administrators have no problem playing host to even the most extreme pornography. I know because I asked the university directly.

After witnessing a porn star’s live, partially nude instruction on sadomasochism during Sex Week at Yale back in February, I e-mailed Mary Miller, the Dean of Yale College and asked her whether she thought Sex Week received adequate oversight from the university administration. I also asked her whether she felt it was appropriate for students to participate in sadomasochistic exercises with guest lecturers in Yale classrooms. Finally, I asked whether she was concerned that such episodes might send the wrong message to students about Yale’s attitude toward sexual violence.

I received the following response through a university spokesman:

Sex Week At Yale (SWAY) is a student organized and student produced series of events. SWAY is not a registered student organization and is not sponsored, sanctioned or funded by Yale College or Yale University.  While the administration may find aspects of SWAY distasteful or offensive, Yale’s policies on free expression permit students to invite the widest range of speakers, politicians, writers and performers to campus.

One could argue that hosting such events amounts to, in a sense, having “sanctioned” them. And the claim that Yale provided no funding for Sex Week is simply not true. Sex Week director Colin Adamo told me that Yale provided grant funds to publish printed materials for Sex Week. These inaccuracies aside, to me, the remarkable thing about Yale’s statement is the fact that live sadomasochistic performances and the screening of violent pornography fall squarely under the university’s definition of “free expression.”

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