Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Michael Brooks Raises Rainbow Flag Over Oxford

A seventeenth-century Oxford University college has flown the homosexual rainbow flag over one of its buildings, becoming the first Oxford college ever to do so. Of the 38 colleges that make up the prestigious university, Wadham College, housed in a 17th-century castle at the center of the university, is often considered the progressive college. Founded in 1610, the college made history by hoisting the flag as it marked “Queerweek” – a collection of talks, discussions and social events scheduled from November 14-20. The flag flew for the entire week, and the action was supported by the college Dean and the Governing Body.

Organizer and student Michael Brooks, 19, came up with the idea after consulting with other students. “We discussed it with the college dean, and then the idea went through to the Governing Body," he said in the report. "Everyone responded really positively to the idea, and we ended up flying the rainbow flag over Wadham for an entire week." Brooks, a Philosophy and German undergraduate, said flying the flag had a “huge effect on Oxford”.

Local author Ross Brooks (no relation), the creator of Oxford’s only gay guide – Queer Oxford – welcomed the college’s decision to hoist the flag. “This is the first time ever that the University of Oxford has flown the rainbow flag. It is certainly a bit different and something special, I think, ‘to write home about’. For centuries, LGBT culture has been integral to life here in Oxford although it has not always been acknowledged and appreciated. It was heartwarming to see Oxford University celebrating diversity in the community so publicly.” While the flag was first used by the LGBT community in the 1970s, it is believed this is the first official gay symbol to be displayed since teaching began on the university’s site in the 11th century, over 900 years ago.

He went on to explain why Wadham College was such a poignant place for the flag to fly. “The fact is that Wadham College was the scene of one of Oxford’s most notorious scandals. On February 3, 1739, Robert Thistlethwayte, Doctor of Divinity and Warden of Wadham, attempted to seduce William French, a commoner of the College. The ensuing scandal shook the University to its foundations. Thistlethwayte’s career at Oxford was ruined (he had to flee to France) but he was immortalized in several cheeky limericks which have been uttered here in Oxford ever since the 1730s! For example:

There once was a Warden of Wadham
Who approved of the folkways of Sodom,
For a man might, he said,
Have a very poor head
But be a fine Fellow at bottom
.”

So there you have it.

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