Aliya S. King, long-time Vibe contributor and author of the hip hop novel Platinum, penned, “The Mean Girls of Morehouse” for Vibe’s latest issue. The article addresses the growing trend of cross-dressing gay students at Morehouse, a Historically Black College for men.

Known for grooming intellectual and socially influential Black men—among them, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., and screenwriter and director Spike Lee—Morehouse is the venerable institution for Black men. Now Aliya’s piece exposes Morehouse men who look like women. The question is, Can a Morehouse man be a woman?

The piece has sparked a host of controversy and the college’s president, Robert Franklin, released a statement. Franklin says that he strongly disagrees with the article and wanted to inform the Morehouse community before the new Vibe issue hits the stands. The head of the prestigious college goes on to say, “It seems clear from the headline alone that the Vibe editorial team’s intent is to sensationalize and distort reality for the purpose of driving readership.” Franklin clearly sees the piece as an attack on his gay brothers attending the college.

Franklin continues, “Addressing our young men as “girls” is deeply disturbing to me . . . ” But if there are students attending Morehouse who dress and behave as females—wearing makeup, heels, and carrying handbags—how unfair is it to address them as girls?

You be the judge!

Dear Morehouse Community:

Next week, Vibe magazine, a hip-hop music and culture monthly, will publish in their October/November issue an article on Morehouse. I strongly disagree with the likely substance of this article and wanted to write to you directly to share my views.

The article, entitled, “The Mean Girls at Morehouse,” purports to examine the lives of some of our gay brothers as it relates to the enforcement of our appropriate attire policy we enacted a year and a half ago. It seems clear from the headline alone that the Vibe editorial team’s intent is to sensationalize and distort reality for the purpose of driving readership. The title of the article speaks volumes about a perspective that is very narrow and one that is, in all likelihood, offensive to our students whether gay or straight.

As president of this institution, as a Morehouse graduate and as a father, I am insulted by what is to be published. Addressing our young men as “girls” is deeply disturbing to me, no matter what the remainder of the article may say. Morehouse has for 140 years developed men—men who are equipped to live and contribute to an increasingly diverse, global and complex world.

Let me be clear. I believe in the freedom of the press and its critical role in examining all facets of our society to foster reasoned discourse and to promote understanding of topics both popular and unpopular. We will not always agree with what is written. I disagree, however, in journalism that attempts to malign and distort, rather than inform and enlighten.

I need not tell you that the black male is already faced with challenges in nearly every aspect of his life. Injustices abound. Families are broken. And our young black boys are failing to reachtheir potential in grade school and middle school at pandemic rates. And while the world grapples with complicated issues related to economic disparity, racism, sustainability, and diversity and tolerance, Morehouse stands in the breach, seeking answers to the pressing issues facing our young men, encouraging dialogue and expecting excellence.

The world is complex, and it is diverse. Morehouse reflects that same complexity and that same diversity. It is unfortunate that the Vibe article will heighten misunderstandings and advance or inform little.

In the end, no media outlet can shape who we are or in any way diminish our mission. But together we can encourage media outlets like Vibe to provide fair, well-researched and balanced journalism.

Finally, Morehouse will stand by its values. We will continue to set high standards and focus on the development of our young men. Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Robert M. Franklin
President
Morehouse College

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  • “I am insulted by what is to be published. Addressing our young men as “girls” is deeply disturbing to me, no matter what the remainder of the article may say.”

    Translation:

    I find womanhood and femininity degrading to manhood.

    • bob

      he finds womenhood and femenity degrading when men are trying to do it , wow men trying to be women if thats not wrong, biology that is wrong

    • I see men wearing traditional male attire all the time and it doesn’t cause me to be “deeply disturbed,” but then again I am not a misogynist.

    • women*

    • sloane

      @anti-intellect- totally agree. who says that femininity is solely the province of women? if a man is feminine and wants to wear high heels why shouldn’t he be able to express himself?

    • sloane

      @anti-intellect- totally agree with you. who says that femininity is solely the province of women? if a man is feminine and wants to wear high heels why shouldn’t he be able to express himself?

  • Prodoc06

    Your assertion of “fear” being the motivator for the condemnation of this article is questionable my Morehouse Brother. To state that this should lead to more discussions about sexuality, masculinity in the HBCU and black community as a whole is correct and appropriate, however. That is precisely why Morehouse held a Gay Pride Week on its campus to facilitate those kinds of discussions. In that regard, Morehouse’s efforts should have been built upon, and not disregarded and disrespected in an article of this type. This article does nothing to foster healthy dialogue between gay brothers/sisters and the black community (religious, intellectual/academic, or otherwise). It incites anger and distrust while not acknowledging steps in the right direction that Morehouse has taken by having a Gay Pride Week and also providing a voice for gay Men of Morehouse through its Safe Space Organization. Brother President Franklin should be applauded for these efforts taking place under his leadership. It should be the shining example for other HBCUs to follow. As Morehouse has made her steps and growth to engage its gay student population, an article like this counters this example of progressive leadership. These are a few students (present and former) at Morehouse, who have demonstrated some psychosis related to their unresolved issues with parents and other authority figures. Morehouse should not be this kind of battle ground for these students’ personal, unresolved issues. It is my hope that these young brothers will not be further exploited, but develop into healthy, well-adjusted (transgendered) gay men. This kind of rebellious, frenzied response by these young brothers presented in the VIBE article shows how this segment of the gay population really needs our help and not to exploited as they have been by VIBE to the chagrin of the Morehouse Brotherhood. My prayers are with these students and former students and the rest of the Morehouse Community. Let the respectful discussion and healing begin! We are Morehouse Men; strong and stronger because of this. I am excited……Let’s do this!