Harvard pushed to teach LGBT history after professor’s gaffe

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In the wake of Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson’s statement that John Maynard Keynes, who was a highly influential British economist, didn’t care about long-term economic consequences because he was gay and childless (for which Ferguson has since apologized), the national group Committee on LGBT History has called on Harvard to play a larger role in teaching LGBT history.

“Harvard should show leadership here by, at a minimum, hosting a major conference about LGBT history and encouraging Ferguson to attend. It is also high time that Harvard makes a new tenure-track hire in LGBT history” Co-chair of Committee on LGBT History, Don Romesburg, said in a statement posted on History News Network. He continued, “the incident has underscored the value of teaching and researching LGBT histories. This confronts ignorance about LGBT people, lives, and communities, and in the process, builds a more accurate historical record overall.”

Though Harvard has a class titled “Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality”, a course catalog search for terms such as LGBT reveals mostly law classes, which are unlikely to focus much on historical events and figures more than a few decades old.

In contrast, San Francisco State University has not only a PRIDE at SF State Committee that holds multiple events throughout the year, but offers a minor in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies as well as a Masters Degree and a minor program in Sexuality Studies.

John Maynard Keynes died in 1946, but his insights into the causes of business cycles continue to influence current macroeconomics and governmental economical policy decisions.

He was known to be bisexual, and early in his life, he dated men almost exclusively; he documented his very active sex life in diaries he kept from 1901 to 1915. He eventually married a Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, that he loved dearly; they had no children, suffering a miscarriage in 1927.

Keynes was also part of the Bloomsbury Group, whose members included Virginia Woolf; compared to mainstream society, the group’s stance on homosexuality was very relaxed, and their collective works came to greatly influence not only economics but modern viewpoints on sexuality, among other topics.

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