Letters to the Editor 9/20/1988

Staff Editorial: Student body lacks compassion

Published September 20, 1988

During the past two weeks, students have been talking about the campus' hottest issue: pink triangles mysteriously appearing on campus, then just as swiftly, being slashed-defaced.

Efforts to find out who was responsible for the triangle paintings and slashing have uncovered other issues. For instance, what is the campus' posting policy? Is this policy adequate? And is the policy implemented fairly?

The University needs to reflect upon these questions, and inform the students of their findings. The University, though, is not the only body in need of reflection.

The CWRU student body must reflect upon their own policy and their own values and become more compassionate toward differing views and opinions. Homosexuals comprise a large group of individuals who are openly discriminated against, and the triangle issue serves as proof.

For CWRU students, the uproar over the triangles is the biggest issue since Operation Desert Storm. In fact, during the past week, the pink triangles and their subsequent slashings have generated more student response-in the form of letters to the editor-than the Gulf Conflict, which spanned a much longer period. Who cares if 150,000 people were killed, where did these pink triangles come from?

With all the effort and success the University has had promoting the understanding of different cultures, backgrounds, and views, it is surprising-indeed sad-that many students find the need to violently and proudly attack the homosexual community.

Defacing a campus sidewalk is one issue. Defacing a way of life is another.

It is time for the student body to become not only a diverse group, but an understanding one as well.

Letter to the Editor: Student will no longer be silenced

Published September 20, 1988

It seems ironic to me that so many "conscientious" students at this school have been wasting so much time and energy lately on ignorance instead of promoting intelligence and acceptance of diverse ideas. I'm speaking about the little pink triangles that appeared on campus one night. I find it funny, in fact ridiculous, that such a benevolent and non-threatening symbol of pride for one part of our community has caused such irrational reactions. I can't understand why someone would be threatened unless they were ignorant about the facts or trying to hide something. "This evil ... eyesore ... lurking, waiting" for "those free from the burden of already knowing.." I might suggest University Counseling Services if knowledge presents such a burden. Those words are obviously full of homophobia, a fear of homosexuality for irrational reasons or from repressed homosexuality, and not logic or rational thought.

The triangles on campus were probably painted by people who have undoubtedly been struggling all their lives against the ignorance and fear found in such homophobic individuals. The group or individual responsible for the painting was trying to reach out to the community to say that understanding and acceptance of homosexuality is a must in today's society. Gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals are your friends, professors, fraternity brothers, rabbis, parents, siblings, university administrators, campus leaders, relatives, etc... We are everywhere whether you want to be strong and accept that fact or not. Our presence has been shown throughout history and homosexuality has not always been looked at with such blinded eyes. We do not consider ourselves superior as some individuals fear, but we do know that we are equals. As victims of the present wave of ignorance, bigotry, and prejudice, we understand all too well how irrational and illogical the idea is that one group is superior to another.

Why are certain undergraduates so concerned about having these pink triangles removed and about how much it will cost them? No one seemed overly concerned about the reaction that the campus community would have to the daffodils, footprints, Theta Chi symbols or other signs spray painted around campus, and no one seems to question the cost of removing all the rush flyers, meeting advertisements, posters and taping that shows up all over campus. The university does pay for that, and it does swallow the cost. None of these others symbols or signs served to stir violence or irrational behavior among the intelligent population of this community. The only signs that have angered students and community members in the past were those of Michael Cavotta which contained vulgarities about women and encouraged rape.

I'll tell you why this little pink triangle situation has caused such a stir - people are afraid to accept the truth of the matter. Just as some people are black, some white, others female, and yet others short or tall, everyone is different in many different ways. Those who are unhappy with themselves need to ridicule and poke fun at those who are not unhappy with themselves. Homosexuality has not been considered a "sickness" for decades nor is the only purpose of human life procreation. What is thought about priests, nuns, prisoners (who can't have heterosexual intercourse), celibates? I don't hear too much talk of them as "defective" or any talk about "helping them" find happiness. Get real. People are different and society is diverse.

Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals are not going to hide in closets anymore so that they don't threaten the masculinity or femininity of those weak individuals in the rest of society. We will no longer be silenced or threatened by ignorance, but will work to erase fear and misunderstanding about human diversity. We are here, we are queer, you will get used to it.

Kevin Kiger, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Homosexuality labeled a disorder

Published September 20, 1988

What should one think of homosexuality? Some classify homosexuality as a sick perversion; others think it's perfectly natural-only different. Most people, I suspect, don't really care as long as they're left out of the issue completely. This letter will briefly try to examine and classify homosexuality in a logical manner, in an effort to define what our attitudes toward it should be. My assertion is that homosexuality is at the very least a natural defect and should be thought of and treated as such. I will begin by defining exactly what I mean by a "natural defect."

A natural defect is simply an imperfection or flaw in one's physiological functions. That is, we see that certain parts of our bodies have specific functions-teeth chew up food so that it will digest properly, sweat glands cool the body when it overheats, etc. In fact, every part of our bodies serves a definite physiological purpose-many serve several purposes.

A natural defect, then, according to this definition, would be any characteristic which unintentionally hinders a natural physiological function-crooked teeth would be an example. Everyone has these defects and thus, is imperfect in some way. Furthermore, it seems to me that a primary goal of humanity is to cure as many of these defects as possible. Now, to say that homosexuality is a-defect means that homosexuality must be a characteristic which hinders some physiological function. Sexuality, besides having other functions, clearly is the function of the body used to propagate the human species (in this sense it is perhaps the highest function of the human body); therefore, any characteristic which hinders this function would be classified as a natural defect. Homosexuality, in this respect must logically be considered a natural defect.

This conclusion is not a moralistic one. Nature provides us with a rigid guideline for which to judge this issue. Also, this conclusion only applies to strict homosexuality. That is, since bisexuality retains heterosexuality and thus the body's drive to propagate, this argument does not apply to it.

Homosexuality should not be thought of as dirty or distasteful or unnatural. It should, however, be thought of as a disorder, and like all disorders we should do our best to treat it. This means if it is a learned disorder, we should help people overcome it and help prevent others from acquiring it; or, if it is an inborn disorder, we should help find a cure for it. Above all, we need to see homosexuality for what it is, and realize that, like crooked teeth or any defect, although it is natural and certainly nothing to be ashamed of, it is not normal; and therefore should not be treated as normal.

Denver H. Dash, Undergraduate student

Letter to the Editor: GLBA denies triangle responsibility

Published September 20, 1988

As president of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance (GLBA) I feel I must respond to some of the recent criticism that was launched at our group in last week's Observr. The issue was of the pink triangles that appeared all over campus during the first two weeks of the semester. This action was not initiated nor sponsored by the GLBA and thus we cannot be held responsible for the actions of one or more individuals who acted of their own accord. To blame the whole of the gay/lesbian/bisexual community would be the same as blaming the whole heterosexual community for the slashes that appeared on the triangles days later. For Michael Cavotta to claim that He would not pay his tuition till the GLBA turns over the people who did this is as inane as for us to say that we will not pay our tuition till the heterosexual community turns over the people who painted the slashes. Had the GLBA supplied the paint or organized the action then we could certainly be held responsible, but this is not the case.

The gay, lesbian and bisexual community on campus was also accused of having a superior attitude and of straight bashing. The GLBA has never engaged in, nor approved of this activity and is indeed open to any students regardless of their sexual orientation. The GLBA is a social and support group whose main purpose is to promote a safe and enriching environment for all students. The only demands we have are for equal rights and opportunities, nothing more, and anything less is unacceptable. For people to claim that we should be quiet and hide our sexuality, I challenge them to live in a society that has taught them to hate and despise this part of their lives. This very hatred and prejudice is what makes an openly gay, lesbian and bisexual person to be so vocal, so that the succeeding generations of gay, lesbian, bisexual youth need not grow up with the same stigma attached to them that we have.

I have been accused many times of "flaunting" my sexuality since I have "left the closet" and live as an openly gay man. Put yourself in the shoes of a "queer" and see if the same doesn't apply to the heterosexual community and their "flaunting" of their sexuality. Remember we have grown up and lived in your community and know and understand heterosexuals, but most "straights" know little, and understand even less, of the gay, lesbian, bisexual community. To any who are interested in learning more about us I would like to invite you to our meetings. We meet Friday Sept. 20 at 7:30 in meeting room D at Thwing Student Center and every other Friday after that. I hope you will join us and help build a more livable campus for all.

John A. Mills, President GLBA, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Homosexual community resorts to street graffiti

Published September 20, 1988

In response to the concern Shea M. Ramey's expressed in the 7/13/91 issue of The Observer over the reaction to the pink triangles symbolizing "gay and lesbian pride:" Imagine the reaction of the gay community if they had awakened one morning to find this campus' walkways chalked with slogans exhorting "straight pride" accompanying anonymously plastered, blue, spray-painted squares. Although this mode of expression superficially appears to be a simple expression of pride in a particular sexual orientation, it also implies a militant intolerance towards other orientations and views. While I believe all people should have the right to express themselves however they please, (as long as their expression does not impinge on the rights of others), I do not believe this right makes all speech correct of justifiable. I find blatant chauvinistic expression of endemic carnal preferences slightly offensive. We can all gain insight from a well-publicized, related discourse at another institute of higher learning.

During a party held on the Mather House residence quad on the campus of Harvard University, a male homosexual student sexually propositioned another (heterosexual) male student in a vulgar manner. Offended, the propositioned student slapped his solicitor. The physically assaulted student demanded an apology. During the days that followed, some sympathetic Mather residents displayed pink cardboard triangles in their windows supporting the assaulted student's position and demands. In a similar vein, some Mather residents hung blue squares in their windows to support the straight student's violent reaction to the gay student's "verbal assault." Tension escalated in the quad. Many student publications on the Harvard campus discussed and debated this conflict-prompting a few nationally read newspapers to report on the situation secondhand. As both sides of the debate became increasingly militant and hostile, many more students (some of them gay) hung cardboard-cutouts of four-leaf clovers, green hearts, and other symbols in expression of indifference, compromise, and ridicule. Only when the quad looked like its residents had ransacked a box of giant "lucky charms" was the true nature of the students' diversity visible.

In the Harvard incident, the issue was clear-violence. To my knowledge, the person(s), whose statement these pink triangles plastered about our campus embody, have no specific issue or circumstance they wish to address. It appears that his/ her/their intent is to produce some kind of vague discontinuity on campus by breeding conflict without cause or objective. Rather that express sentiments in a manner sanction by the University (publications, posters, bulletin boards) the perpetrator(s) of this conflict have resorted to the low form of anonymous street graffiti.

Keith J. Bell, Undergraduate Student