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Friday, May 09, 2008

What would Jonathan Edwards think?

Jonathan Edwards
I think I know why the man in this picture looks so sour: he read this post!

I didn't know Yale once expelled students for being gay. The things you can learn from reading the Courant!

Act 1 was about to start and Richard Lalli had a few last words for his students. Orpheus, Apollo and the others huddled around in their white robes. "Try to be free," Lalli said calmly. "And make it as much your own as possible."

With that, he retreated to the church balcony, dressed for the opera in a silk scarf. In a few short months, his students had mastered "L'Orfeo," and as the opening music filled the rafters, Lalli looked as proud as any parent in the room.

A vocalist, pianist and professor, Lalli is about to take on a new role: master of Yale University's Jonathan Edwards College. He and his partner, Dr. Michael Rigsby, who will be assistant master, are set to become the first openly gay couple to head a campus dorm when they move in next January.

Yale is divided into a dozen residential colleges, each with its own dining hall, intramural sports teams and social events. The college master presides over it all: reassuring parents, nurturing students and providing entertainment, a job that can make directing a Baroque opera, by comparison, seem easy. With Lalli's appointment, Yale follows Harvard in naming a same-sex couple to a high-profile, mothering role, a milestone for a school that once expelled students for being gay.

In a sign of how far society has come, no one is expecting much controversy. "You can never control for every loose cannon, but I just don't think this is an issue anymore," said a close friend, Ralph Hexter, the openly gay president of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass.

I guess not. We sure have come a long way indeed.

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