higher ed

The Drag Queen Trying to Save Southern Methodist U. From Its Homophobic Rep


Should a single male staff member who dresses in drag be enough to lift Southern Methodist University out of the rankings of homophobic universities? Joe Hoselton, aka Jenna Skyy, certainly thinks so.

Hoselton is the graduate admissions coordinator for SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. He was also recently crowned Gay Miss Texas. And he’s not so happy about SMU’s No. 14 spot on the Princeton Review’s list of homophobic schools — the same ranking it had last year. (Not to be confused with the Review’s list of gay-friendly schools.)

Among the other honorees: Brigham Young University (Mormon), Baylor University (Southern Baptist), and the University of Dallas (Catholic), all of which seemingly place intolerance right up there with physics and engineering.

But does the 11,000-student SMU, which offers domestic partnership benefits to staffers, deserve to be in their company? Uh uh, says Hoselton.


He said when he returned from Houston with the Gay Miss Texas crown, the dean sent him an e-mail with congratulations. The e-mail from the dean at other schools on the most homophobic list, he suggested, might have been a termination notice.

Karen Click is director of the Women’s Center at SMU, which also houses Spectrum, the LGBT student organization. Click said she was also somewhat surprised by the school’s ranking. She rattled off a number of programs and events on campus in the last year.

She said SMU has a non-discrimination project called “Every Student Deserves Respect.” The campus has held programs for National Coming Out Day, Transgender Day of Remembrance and Gay Pride, and it hosted an LGBT job fair sponsored by Resource Center Dallas. An LGBT mentoring career program helps students learn about being gay in the workplace. In addition to Spectrum, Allies is a group of on-campus LGBT supporters that holds regular social hours. Complaints of discrimination at SMU are taken seriously.

But, Click said she trusts the ranking somewhat because it’s based on student surveys. She said it’s “a mixed bag” of students who come into her office.

“Some have had positive healthy experiences on campus. Others have not,” she said.

And while the Princeton Review turns to students’ surveys, we’ll turn to students’ stories. Like this one, from Andrew, who last year talked about how coming out would mean “he will lose his friends and face ridicule.” Then again, he is in a frat. “I’ve seen these guys around gay people. They tease them beyond belief, make them feel like they are nothing. And God forbid a gay guy might smile at one of them. They will talk about wanting to beat up that fag for the rest of the day. I know they would never accept me.”

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  • Travis

    Recent graduate of SMU, here, and convinced that the ranking is accurate. The only people to say otherwise, so far, are from the MSA and the Women’s Center. There is a world of difference between the ARTS SCHOOL and the rest of SMU. Also, not to fault Joe, but as coordinator of admissions in Meadows, he has to find a way to tell gay artists that they would be comfortable at SMU. It’s bound to be a big part of his job. Gay groups and events have very low attendance, many students spend all four years in the closet, homophobic opinion pieces are published in the campus paper with a fairly annual regularity… SMU may be better than it was, it may have official policies protecting faculty. But it still belongs on the list. And you know why? Because it still shares a very important characteristic with the Baptist, Mormon, and Catholic schools on the list – two thirds of the students have a religious affiliation, and most are of the Highland Park born again variety. Compare that to the one third of students at NYU, Princeton Review’s #1 gay friendly school. Florida’s New School (#3) is also the least religious. It’s not a coincidence.

    SMU is, in many ways, a wonderful school. I wouldn’t trade my time in Meadows. But gay friendly? Nope.

  • dellisonly

    You want gay friendly in Texas you need look no further than Austin. Beyond UT everything else is affiliated with a religious institution.

  • galefan2004

    Ahh, good ole self loathing gay people. Here is a little hit for everyone…if someone would judge you and ridicule you simply for being yourself around them then THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS!!!!! Its really that fucking simple.

    The admissions coordinator has a great deal of sway in the decision of who gets into the school. Its kind of hard to call a school homophobic when it openly accepts gay people.

    Also, for the love of god when you are talking about a drag queen and showing a picture of that drag queen in drag then for fucks sake the pronoun to be used is SHE.

  • GranDiva

    Beg to differ. University of Houston, Rice, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, Texas State, on and on and on…

    There are plenty of non-sectarian schools in Texas, and quite a few of them are division one schools.

    And just for reference’s sake (because I know that not too many people who aren’t into the drag scene care, but details do matter), Jenna’s title is Miss Texas For Female Impersonators, as distinct from Miss Gay Texas America, Miss Gay Texas USofA, Texas Entertainer of the Year, etc., etc., all of which are franchises of separate companies.

  • rudy

    @galefan2004: I believe only if he considers himself to be transgendered.
    Unless, of course, you are so old as to remember the fifties when gay men routinely referred to each other as “queens” and “she.”

  • The Drag Queen

    Really?! I provided those quotes to the Dallas Voice when contacted for an interview..not to save the reputation of SMU but to offer my perspective here at SMU. I don’t claim that SMU is non-homophobic but I doubt the 300ish students that participated in that survey clearly profile the entire 11,000 students or the 2,000 staff that work here. I find it hard to believe that being 14 is exemplary of our university when I have notarized the domestic partnership paperwork for my colleagues allowing their partners to fall under their employee benefits and health care, when I’m encouraged to share the GLBT programs and opportunities to our GLBT students and applicants, that I’m aksed to bring my crown to school to show the office. I can’t save the reputation of SMU, it is what it is…I just offered my input since I wasn’t invited to participate in this survey. And if you though attendance was low at the GLBT programs…check out a football game…

  • Rhydderch

    Oh lord I’m siding with galefan

  • Rhydderch

    I’m a Texas Tech alum and I can tell you in the 90s that was a scary place to be for a gay. One tired gay bar in the whole town and AOL was the only way to really meet other gays in town. Most of the guys I met were really suspicious if you asked too many questions like “hi how are you?” Most of time guys just resorted to hooking up in random campus restrooms. Luck for me I lived in a cooler dorm and on the floor with a bunch of theater students and straight guys who were secure enough with themselves not to be freaked out by my cocksucking ways.

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