• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 10 comments on LGBTQ Figures, from Lincoln to Mr. Sulu

    1. “Who cares if anyone is straight or gay anyway? What matters is what they contributed to society.”

      Yes! Agreed! Those in the LGBTQ Community should be treated like anyone else, and therefor revered like anyone else would be for accomplishing great things. It’s important to remember that this has not been the case. Most often their sexuality has overshadowed their accomplishments (Turing is a great example).

    2. There are plenty of reasons, but I want to point out just one example of how it matters, in case you’ve never thought of it this way. Not all queer kids are growing up in places or in families where they’re loved and supported for who they are. Sure, whether someone’s queer or not shouldn’t matter, but maybe it’s the first time those kids have heard of queer people (like themselves) in a positive, empowering light – and about people revered in history no less. Role models kids can identify with are important. Just one kid who goes from thinking they’re worth nothing to realizing someone like them may have been a president, or a war hero, or a respected athlete, and realizes they can be successful too… that’s worth it.

  1. As a current BU student, I’m embarrassed to have this article associated with my university. Quite a few choices by the author and/or editors are objectively wrong or incredibly insulting. First, the sloppy pronoun choices; calling a transgender individual by the incorrect pronouns (such as Lili Elbe and “he”) or refusing to use the person’s correct name for the entirety of each section strips the individual of the right to identify themselves. No other underrepresented minority faces this disenfranchisement, and Mr. Barlow’s mistakes betray ignorance.
    Second, the author obviously has false notions about the relationship between physical sex and gender identity. He falsely equivocates genitalia and identity as is apparent through selective pronoun use, as Mr. Barlow only uses the correct pronouns for Lili Elbe after describing her sex-reassignment surgery. To him, then, Lili is “she” only after the removal of her genitalia. In actuality, someone who is transgender is such regardless of physical alterations, and their status as transgender predates procedures. Third and finally, the use of a deceased transgender person’s incorrect name pollutes their legacy and silences the voices of these transgender icons. While Mr. Harlow may have just been pulling from the language used in the novel (which would be lazy journalism quite frankly), he or an editor should have at the very least considered what they were writing before they wrote it. I’m surprised such weighty mistakes were approved for publication. Sarah Prager’s novel looks phenomenal and seems to be a fresh narrative of often hackneyed biographies-if only BU Today could bolster the book’s image without insulting the subjects’ legacies.

  2. This is quite a stretch for some on the list. The only evidence for Lincoln being “gay” (a term & identity that disn’t exist then) is the shared bed. Likewise for Jeanne d’Arc; cross-dressing was a commitment to serving as a warrior, not to sexual behavior or identity.

    It’s good to have positive role models for GLBT youth & adults, but it’s best not to speculate when the known facts are scarce & inconclusive.

  3. Thanks for the grammar lesson and angry denunciation of the writer and editors. Oh, and BTW, I assume that by “equivocates,” you meant to write “equates.”

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