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Sunday, November 27, 2016

FAQ from WGSS faculty about OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund for research on humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity

Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning. New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933

PHOTO: Berlin university students carrying away the library from the home of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) on May 6, 1933 for a May 10-11 Nazi book burning (New York Herald Tribune, May 17, 1933). Some prominent Nazis were closeted gay men who exhibited a disgust reaction toward out-of-the-closet homosexuals, including Dr. Hirschfeld and his pioneering gay research institute for gender and sexuality. My Grandfather Dr. Elmer O. Kraemer (1898-1943) witnessed these book burnings when he was a visiting Professor of Chemistry at Berlin University. A question I am frequently asked is about my reasons for naming my research fund after Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, whose research work early on was widely dismissed by gay American Stonewall era scholars, perhaps because their opinions were still prejudiced by fresh memories of the World War II atrocities by Nazis against both gays and Jews, or also perhaps due to the lack of any scholarly German to English translations of Hirschfeld's work until decades later. The early translations were correctly criticized and unfortunately diminished the importance of his reearch work. Whatever the real reason for Hirschfeld's work being ignored by American scholars, it shows the importance of not being blind to research done internationally, just because it is hard to access. Given this tragic history, I named the fund in the honor of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld as a way to encourage research with an international scope at OSU, which in my experience will lead to greater insights and discoveries than is possible in isolation. (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12))

The Oregon State University school newspaper recently printed several interesting stories and letters, just after the 2016 election of Donald Trump as the U.S. President, which touched on some contemporary concerns of college students.

The first item is by Ercoli Crugnale, "A step toward support," Barometer, November 21, 2016, p. 4-5 that quotes Oregon State University President Ed Ray saying, "Oregon State will continue their history of supporting diversity of all kinds on campus, such as in 2001 when the university built the former 'Queer Resource Center'" (now renamed the OSU Pride Center). The story talks about "OSU's plans to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer" and describes the process of hiring. I applaud OSU's plans to appoint a Chief Diversity Officer, whose written objectives sound similar to the ones I help write in the 1980's for Hewlett-Packard when I led some of HP's research programs located on the Stanford University campus.

Both of HP's company founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard believed strongly in diversity as being something that could give HP the best talent in the world, instead of blindly excluding the best research engineers just because they were different. Even though Dave was a truly conservative Republican, he rejected the xenophobia of many Republicans as being bad for his internationally renowned business. For example, HP was one of the first U.S. businesses to reenter China, where I was able to hire two of the best Chinese engineers who had obtained their Ph.D. degrees from the University California at Berkley.

At one time, most companies would begrudgingly adopt a diversity program only when compelled to by a court order that included hiring quotas, but Dave Packard insisted on doing it without a court order. In fact, Dave Packard succeeded in having diversity at the most senior levels in the company, and he achieved it without compromising any of his standards of hiring only the most qualified individuals. Packard refused to blindly meet his diversity objectives by lowering his hiring standards. Similar to HP, I expect OSU will also be able to achieve diversity without having to lower its own standards.

Nurturing diversity at OSU will take some fortitude at every level because many pundits are blaming the recent loses of Democrats to having put all of their eggs into the diversity basket. (See an excellent analysis, of these criticisms concerning Democrats, by the gay blogger, Jim Burroway, "A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats," posted Nov. 21, 2016)

Another interesting item printed in the OSU student newspaper is by the OSU Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty and staff, "Open letter of solidarity from the WGSS faculty and staff: Letters to the Editor," Barometer Nov. 21, 2016, p. 15.

This letter and other communications I have received over the last decade from members of the OSU community, including students and alumni, have prompted me to answer below some of the frequently asked questions about the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement for research concerning humans or animals with a minority sexual orientation or gender identity. (See previous post OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund Agreement (1/4/12))

First, let me make a quick summary of what I say in more detail below. The legal agreement with the OSU Foundation has been intentionally written to take advantage of OSU's strengths in animal sciences, social sciences, as well as other sciences and engineering disciplines, by encouraging multidisciplinary research work of an international scope between researcher in different schools, departments, or academic driplines. The Fund has been setup flexible enough to adapt over time when research needs have changed, likely due to learning or new discoveries. This flexibility is important because the Fund is legally setup as an endowment that must be managed to run in perpetuity.

For example, I fully expect a hundred years from now that the definitions of LGBT+ and many of the most pertinent research questions might be unimaginable today. However, despite this prediction, I am confident that the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund will have no problem identifying and funding relevant research topics that are obvious descendants of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's pioneering research work done back in the 1930's.

Also, my reasons, for expecting LGBT+ research will evolve over the next century, are based on the historical experiences of gay researchers who in the past have divided up into two usually isolated camps. The first camp being those who see LGBT as something that is defined by society (i.e social constructionists) versus the other camp that only sees the medical or scientific origins of the behaviors (i.e. biological essentialists). Yet, both points of view have been critical to obtaining advances in knowledge.

The history of research has shown how insights and breakthroughs can occur when researchers from one of the camps works to reconcile their research findings with both of the theoretical models held by the two isolated camps, such as the theoretical models held by biological essentialists vs. social constructionists. For example, the findings of functional MRI scans of homophobic brains in action can be correlated with the similar findings of social scientists, and if they don't correlate, then it must be asked, why not?

At one time, homophobes would justify discrimination against gay people by saying with impunity that there were no homosexuals in nature, but OSU animal scientists and others have published papers documenting homosexual behavior in animals. Of course, skeptics say humans are not animals and humans have more intelligence to control their own sexual behavior, which is true, but a good social science researcher should still be asking how humans' sexual behavior is different from animals and why. After all, the statistical distribution of animals' sexual behavior, including bisexual behaviors, is remarkably similar to humans, but all researchers need to ask how are the animalistic behaviors, essential for reproduction, different from humans' more complex social and sexual behaviors, and then reconcile their theoretical models.

In my experience with research at both OSU and Stanford University, research programs must often be protected from being eaten up by the political immune system of the University and this protection is often provided by the leaders of a single academic department or school that is the home of the project. Consequently, it would not surprise me if the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund ended up being led by the OSU Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department (WGSS), and provided the most initial benefit to researchers in this department, however, the Fund agreement with the OSU Foundation does not specify any department because it was intentionally written so that research and the management of it could occur in any academic discipline at OSU, and also encourage multidisciplinary research, by providing the flexibility required to adapt as things change over time due to new learning and discovery.

As some OSU community members have heard directly from me, the OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund is designed to encourage more interdisciplinary research at OSU, in all academic fields, by paying for both the time of the faculty and their graduate student research assistants, as well as other legitimate research expenses, such as the costs to do field research or the costs of travel for the faculty and their selected students to attend academic conferences related to their professor's area of research.

For example, I first saw the need at OSU for more research funding in the 1970's when I was a 0.5 FTE Research Assistant, paid to work half of a full time equivalent employee on a research project, while working on my graduate degree and Masters thesis, under the supervision of a professor who ran one of the rare research programs at OSU with any significant funding at the time. I benefited greatly from traveling with my thesis advisor, along with other graduate students, to relevant academic conferences in Seattle, and also to the Naval Torpedo station in Keyport, Washington where our research benefactors were located. As a result, I was fortunate to land a good job in industry, espite the fact I was unable to share our research work because it had been classified as being top secret by the U.S. Navy. (The OSU library holds the redacted copy of my Master thesis.)

After graduating and working in industry, I personally benefited from being picked to lead research at Stanford University funded by HP and other organizations, and this allowed me to start working on my Ph.D. degree at Stanford, without having to incur any debt, which unfortunately too many students are forced to do today.

During my decades of research experience, I witnessed the major benefits to society that resulted from academic research and also learned how it was never wise to succumb to the temptation of cutting the research budget during lean times. Hewlett-Packard's founders Bill and Dave put everyone working on a nine-day fortnight to cut labor expenses for a short time, as a way of avoiding cutting any research programs.

As mentioned above, OSU Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld Fund is also designed to encourage research of an international scope.

For example, research work by Dr. George Weinberg, who coined, defined and popularized the concept of homophobia internationally, provided some psychological explanations for the homophobic behavior exhibited by Nazi's against Dr. Hirschfeld's research work (See above).

title and contents page of George Weinberg's 1972 book on homophobia and 1999 picture of left to right Dick Leitsch, John Paul Hudson, Jack Nichols, Dr. George Weinberg and Randolfe Wicker

PHOTO: Dr. George Weinberg's famous book that coined and popularized the concept of homophobia, provides some good examples of the bad behaviors associated with closeted homosexuals, such as the Nazis' disgust reaction to Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld's research work (see above). The OSU library bought a copy of this book when it was first published, and it provided me with my first glimpse of the importance of gay academic research. In the photo above is the title page and contents page of George Weinberg's 1972 book on homophobia next to an amateur photo taken in 1999 of Stonewall era gay activists (left to right) Dick Leitsch, John Paul Hudson, Jack Nichols, Dr. George Weinberg and Randolfe Wicker, who were celebrating the 30th anniversary of Stonewall revolt in 1969 New York City. (Photo courtesy of Jack Nichols and Randy Wicker and it was given to me in 1999) The OSU library owns a first edition copy of this groundbreaking book by George Weinberg, "Society and the healthy homosexual," St. Martin's Press, 1972. (See previous posts George Weinberg homophobia book 1972 (12/16/08) and Ex-gays more easily disgusted than gays? (12/16/09))

I was honored to talk on the phone with the New York gay scholar Dr. George Weinberg. He is the first person I heard make the astute conjecture that the homophobic disgust reaction of gay Nazi officers is a tragic example of a common response to internalized homophobia exhibited by many men.

Discussions with both George Weinberg and Johnathan Ned Katz, who is famous for writing one of the first gay history books back when most academics rejected the possibility that this subject would ever be important, is what motivated me to spend nearly three years full-time in the OSU Library Archives doing the research required to write the history of Corvallis, Oregon State University. (See previous post OSU gay history at site (1/16/12) and the copy of Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1964-2002," printed to PDF from in 2010 permanently stored by the OSU Scholars Archives@OSU)

Although when I was a college student, I never fully appreciated the importance of history, and I arrogantly dismissed history as being something only "old people" read to recall their good old days, today I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reactions I have received from OSU students to my gay OSU history. I am also blessed to have had my OSU history peer-reviewed by internationally famous Stonewall-era gay activists, as well as to receive comments from OSU graduates from nearly every decade back to World War II, plus I was able to follow up and confirm in documents stored in the OSU Archives records that the famous homophile activists W. Dorr Legg was at OSU until 1943. (See previous post OSU professor recognized equality hypocrisy decades ago (6/5/12))

I was also able to discover the fact that an OSU football player nearly a century ago was perceived by his fellow students as being gay, after learning about his arrest for sodomy in Portland, Oregon from the research by George Painter. (See previous post Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/22/14))

George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) football team as pictured in 'The 1912 Orange' yearbook, p. 159.

PHOTO: (above) Student George Hastings (top row, left) and the 1910 football team at Oregon Agricultural College (former name of Oregon State University) as pictured in "The 1912 Orange" yearbook, p. 159. *See previous posts Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/12/14), OSU gay football player 1908 (6/19/08) and Oregonian on 1912 gay panic arrests (4/25/10)(

Esera Tuaolo on cover of The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover headline reads 'Gay in the NFL, A football star for nine years, former Vikings lineman Esera Tuaolo reveals the truth about homophobia in the locker room and the dangers of the pro sports closet. PLUS: His boyfriend tells his side of their romance' PHOTO: former Oregon State University football player Esera Tuaolo came out on the cover of The Advocate. ("Tackling football's closet," By Bruce C. Steele, The Advocate, Nov. 26, 2002, cover story, pp. 3, 30-39). See previous posts Book: 1912 Portland 'Vice Clique' gay sex scandal, OSU football player, and possible Women's Suffragists linkage (3/12/14), OSU Esera Tuaolo gay football star (8/12/06) and OSU alum on CBS 'Face the Nation,' Jason Collins comes out, and Boy Scouts in local paper (5/7/13).

Finally, I've had quite a few questions about what type of cross-disciplinary research work can be done in a subject that has historically been dominated by research in theology, social science, psychology and medicine. OSU research has commendably branched out to publish research in animal science on the genetics of what are commonly called gay sheep and fruit flies. (See previous posts OSU gay fruit fly sex research (9/16/06) and OSU gay sheep vs PETA (9/2/06))

The Magnus Hirschfeld Fund wants to encourage research in even a broader set of academic disciplines, for example, in a recent discussion with a leading OSU computer scientist, he was unable to initially see any possibility of cross-disciplinary gay research with a computer scientist, but after some discussion he quickly came up with a hypothetical research topic that spanned between a social scientist, a genetics researcher, and a computer science researcher in the now hot research field of "big data." Of course, such a connection between researchers can't be forced, but it must occur naturally based on the specific talents and expertise of each researcher. In my research experience at Stanford and HP, I found that most researchers will only rarely discuss topics they don't understand with each other, and as a result will miss out on the biggest research breakthroughs and insights.

My greatest disappointment in life was not being unable to finish my Ph.D. degree because I chose to take an offer to move from Stanford, California to manage an HP Colorado Springs research lab that was only nearby a small branch of the University of Colorado. Therefore, at the risk of sounding like I am begging, and even though I do not expect anything in return from OSU for my contribution to writing and submitting my OSU gay history to the OSU Archives, the only thing I would want from OSU today is an honorary Ph.D. -- and not just because both my father and grandfather had a Ph.D. degree! No matter what, I have been very satisfied by knowing that future generations of OSU students will be able to learn from my history in the OSU Archives. (See previous post OSU gay history at site (1/16/12) and note a copy of Thomas Kraemer, "Corvallis, Oregon State University gay activism 1964-2002," printed to PDF from in 2010 is permanently stored by the OSU Scholars Archives@OSU)

The letter by OSU WGSS faculty and staff, "Open letter of solidarity from the WGSS faculty and staff: Letters to the Editor," Barometer Nov. 21, 2016, p. 15 included some of the following signatures:

UPDATE Nov. 30, 2016 - a former OSU student In response to the WGSS staff letter above wrote the following letter to the editor ithat was published by the student newspaper: Bart Degeneffe, Corvallis Resident and Trump Supporter, "Response to WGSS Faculty's letter on Nov. 21," Barometer, Mon. Nov. 28, 2016, p. 15, which said in part, "I wish to express my disappointment with the faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Department At a time when the country should be coming together for healing and unity, you have instead chosen to continue to beat the drum of fear and division by parroting the usual tired and discredited accusations against our new president and his supporters. Such inappropriate comments only legitimize the further marginalization of conservative leaning members of the OSU community who have been demonized, had their views called hate speech and have even received death threats. The fearmongering and ideological grandstanding must stop. . . ."

I grimaced reading this letter because conservatives should be celebrating the victory of President-elect Donald Trump, but instead his letter paradoxically and angrily criticizes the Nov. 21 letter by the faculty of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His letter parrots the popular right-wing propaganda that "conservative leaning members of the OSU community" are victims of the moral values that Democrats and "liberals" promote publicly in the ivory towers of Oregon State University. This is a quintessential and tragic example of how many conservative Republicans are playing the "victim card" like they accuse liberals of doing, despite the fact that they have won and are clearly in control.

Hey, wake up, President Ronald Reagan's Republicans are clearly in charge today, and all Republicans need to start acting like winners, instead of pretending to be a true victim like the closeted gay student at OSU in 1969 who was beat up by other students who were not punished because anybody "out" as being gay was "just asking for trouble."

The WGSS faculty represents the improvements and discoveries made by civilized OSU Beavers over the 20th Century.