The Art of Darkness

ASU art professor Joe Young has spent four years telling the world he's the victim of institutional homophobia. But he's no victim. He's the incredibly persistent aggressor in a long, vicious game of smear-the-boss.

Micky Abel Turby graduated from ASU with a master's in art history in 1993. She is now enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Texas-Austin. Turby took two classes from Codell, and laughs at the suggestion that Codell is homophobic.

She says, "She's very, very liberal-minded, and her theory classes are just all-encompassing--as in, anything left field, we'll take it into consideration. I find it really hard to believe that she would even in the remotest corner of her mind have that kind of an inkling."

Others echo the sentiment. Shelly Cohn, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, calls Codell "a good ombudsman and representative for the school of art."

Marilyn Zeitlin, director of the University Art Museum, says, "I have never seen the slightest evidence of prejudice of any kind from her [Codell]. In fact, she's a very good spokesperson against sexism of any kind, whether it's homophobia or against women. It's part of her intellectual work and part of her person.

"A less appropriate target is hard to imagine."
Joe Young is eager for the publication of this story, although he knows it may be unflattering to him.

"Different people see things from different vantage points," he says. "My thinking is as long as the points of concern are brought out--however they're discussed--I think it will be a positive thing."

Young sits patiently for a two-hour photography shoot, during which his broken garage door has to be maneuvered carefully, for fear it will crush writer, photographer or subject. Yes, Young tells the photographer, he will certainly incorporate clippings or copies of the New Times story about him into his future works of art.

"That's what I do," he explains.
Young is on sabbatical this year, and, he says, relieved to be away from ASU. But his letter-writing campaign continues.

"At this point," he says, "I've exhausted every recourse available to me through the university."

He says he will continue to follow the university grievance process, but won't file a lawsuit. "I just think that there's a principle here, and I'm just going to follow it to the end. And I expect to be terminated within two years."

And what will he do if he is fired?
"I will be destroyed professionally, that's what I will do," he says.
"There are no jobs. I've tried for five years. Do you think I haven't actively sought to go anywhere I could? I'm 57 years old. I'm overpaid. I'm overqualified. They're eliminating tenure at many of the universities around the United States, so where can I go? I'm stuck here. And the only reason I've stayed through all this is because I'm a practicing Roman Catholic, and I'm a religious one.

"As far as I'm concerned, this is a matter of a spiritual battle, and I am not willing to just give in to this kind of oppression.

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