Controversy stirs about Central Michigan University staff column

Central Michigan University student reporter stirs controversy with views in "Gay isn't the new black" article.
Sherri Keaton, Senior Writer for Central Michigan Life. Photo courtesy of cm-life.com
Sherri Keaton, Senior writer for Central Michigan Life. Photo courtesy of cm-life.com

In the staff report “Gay isn’t the new black“, Sherri Keaton, a reporter for Central Michigan Life, compared the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement. But the topic of the story wasn’t what gained attention for the article — a statement made by Keaton has readers nation-wide challenging the professionalism of the publication.

“I cannot change myself from being black to another ethnicity while, with homosexuality, sometimes people can choose to become heterosexual,” Keaton wrote.

This statement, now retracted from the story, has readers across the nation buzzing. One reader, posting as cmustudent, quickly commented on the ‘ignorance’ of the piece.

“’I cannot change myself from being black to another ethnicity while, with homosexuality, sometimes people can choose to become heterosexual.’ Wow, CM-Life. As a heterosexual white woman, I am appalled that you would actually publish this ignorance. Have you been under a rock all this time that gay equality has been being fought for. People CANNOT choose. Shame on you.”

Other media outlets across the nation have also shared their disapproval of the article. Queerty, an online LGBT-focused news source, posted how they felt.

“We do not feel hostility or disappointment or even frustration for Sherri Keaton, a straight black woman. We just feel bad for Keaton, a senior reporter for Central Michigan Life, and (we’re thus assuming) a student at Central Michigan University. Because the second she wrote a piece titled ‘Gay isn’t the new black’ and included the line, ‘I cannot change myself from being black to another ethnicity while, with homosexuality, sometimes people can choose to become heterosexual,’ she shot the entire ‘the difference between civil rights battles’ argument not just in the foot, but through the temple and exiting the back of its skull,” Queerty posted.

Surprising to some, there was more than one controversial statement retracted from the article.

“No race, social class, or orientation will EVER go through the same struggles blacks went through,” Keaton wrote.

Once again, readers were quick to comment, posting arguments against the statement including the hardships of Jewish people in the Holocaust, the women’s rights movement, Japanese internment camps, and other civil rights fights.

Listed on the Central Michigan Life About page is a mission statement stating, “We will above all else strive to present balanced, accurate coverage of events affecting the CMU community.” With the posting of this story, both students and community members now challenge the validity of the statement.

For more information on the article, or to view reader comments, visit Queerty or Central Michigan Life.

Christopher Clevenger

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