On October 21, 1988 The Observer published a multi-page "Focus" section on homosexuality.
By Greg Davis, published October 21, 1988
CWRU effectively utilizes its resources to attract capable students and train them in specific academic disciplines. The University does not, however, in any programmatic way induce its students to explore its remarkable human diversity.
We have access to many different religions, races, regions, cultures, and lifestyles which will remain mysteries because our curiosity is not deep enough or our prejudices arc too steep, It is a common theme that minority student groups are not penetrated enough by majority students and other-minority students: Few white students attend Afro-American meetings; few straight students come to LGSU meetings. Clearly it is important for minority students to meet together exclusively, but as clear are the consequences of persistent ignorance and prejudice.
The ignorance and prejudice toward gay people on this campus is striking in its pervasiveness. Not only are students here content to remain ignorant about homosexuality, but they don't mind wielding their prejudice like a weapon against gays as a group, or any man who doesn't achieve some undefined and arbitrary level of "masculinity," or any woman who is insufficiently "feminine."
One consequence of applying these stereotypes is that a small fraction of people who conform to them are persecuted while the vast majority of gay people - who do not conform to them - are free from being labeled "fags," "homos," "dykes," etc., and do not incur the same persecution and discrimination.
The gay population which does not conform to stereotypes is invisible, and is among us. They are your siblings, professors, doctors, classmates, bosses,; roommates, sorority sisters, fraternity brothers, etc. The reason, you don't know they are gay' is' that they do not want to risk the pain of rejection and the stigma they believe will accompany disclosure. Gay people, like all people, do not want to be discriminated against. They don't want the people they interact with to apply to them fallacious concepts of what it is to be homosexual.
Gay peoples' fears and others' prejudices lock them in the closet. Their friends and families don't know because trust stops where issues of their sexuality begin. Worst of' all, when gay people pretend to be straight, they forfeit their power to destroy myths about homosexuality, and so these myths persist and, turn back on them.
At some point in their lives, gay people must find the courage too come out. Where will they find it? They will find it in the pursuit of justice if they claim their right to be who they are. They will find it within themselves. They will find it most quickly with the support of their friends and the institutions they believe in.
Throughout your life you have had and will continue to have personal relationships with gay men and lesbians. Don't be handicapped by ignorance and prejudice. You have the ability to be rational' and supportive develop it. Keep an eye out for lectures and discussions sponsored by the Lesbian and Gay Student Union (LGSU). Don't indulge your, knee-jerk reaction to homosexuality; don't perpetuate attitudes which divide, gay and straight. Take advantage of opportunities to understand.
By Will Allison, published October 21, 1988
During the 1986-87 school year, bricks were thrown at the door of an allegedly gay student in Tyler House. Derogatory remarks were written on the door.
A student receives no bid last fall from a fraternity which initially showed great interest in him. He is later informed that the decision not to pledge him hinged on questions about his sexual orientation.
Also last fall, The Observer receives a rash of letters characterizing homosexuals as "physiologically ill" and "immoral."
This fall posters were put up in Pierce House announcing the school year's first meeting of the Lesbian Gay Student Union. "The signs were up less than five minutes," said resident director Andrea Leonard.
Anti-gay graffiti found in a campus restroom. Photo by Brian Menz. Click image for larger version. Note: This photo was recreated by combining phrases written on various bathroom stalls.
This semester a group of suite occupants demanded that the University move them because they didn't want to live with an allegedly gay suite mate. They claimed to fear contracting AIDS from using the same shower facilities—a medical near-impossibility based on current knowledge.
Gay bashing. Racism. Anti-Semitism. In whatever form, it al)* pears that prejudice and intolerance are making a comeback on American college campuses. Nowhere this more evident than in the crease of homophobic incidents those acts of bigotry and violence directed at gays and lesbians.
Kevin Berrill, Director of Campus Projects at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in Washington DC, notes that there has been an "increase of reports of anti-gay incidents on campuses." Considering the rise of racist and anti-Semitic incidents as well, Berrill believes, "...One could infer that there has been a decrease in respect for differences among students."
One cause of this intolerance toward gays may be the growing concern over AIDS. With the disease came the fear of those who may carry it, and many homophobic acts have been linked to AIDS.
At the University of Chicago, anti-gay students placed a classified advertisement in a newspaper pretending to seek gay companionship. When gays responded, letters were sent to their family and friends exposing them as homosexuals and warning that they may be carriers of the AIDS virus. There were also death threats to some of the gay students.
Berrill suggested another cause for the rise of homophobia. He believes the recent high visibility of gays makes them vulnerable to "bigots and bashers" in the short run. Berrill hopes, however, that this visibility will pave the road to tolerance in the long run.
Jerry Bores, a gay CWRU staff member and Assistant Controller for Student Accounts Receivables and Student Loans, concurs. "Gays are more vocal at CWRU today," he said. "The University forums on prejudice have also brought attention to the issue."
CWRU is not the only university in Ohio experiencing homophobic intolerance. The September 23 issue of The Oberlin Review said that "Two incidents of harassment of gay students on campus were reported..." The Oberlin College Lesbian Gay Bisexual Union is currently seeking channels of recourse for such incidents.
On the graduate level, however, there appears to be more tolerance than on the undergraduate level at CWRU. "I haven't come across any blatant homophobia at the law school," said gay law student D.J. Hallett. "Any homophobic treatment you'll receive here is going to be very subtle."
On the national and international levels, instances of homophobia haven't been confined to college campuses. A. Damien Martin, director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute for gay and lesbian youth, cited several disturbing examples in a recent New York Time editorial:
"In 1982, the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart published a pamphlet about the Bible in which he said that 'God is saying here that not only is the homosexual worthy of death, but perhaps also those who approve of homosexuality.'
"In 1986, the Vatican issued a pastoral letter that stated that violence against homosexuals is understandable.'
"Last year, the Republican leadership of the New York Senate blocked a bill to increase penalties for bias-related violence because the bill condemned attacks on people because of their sexual orientation. The legislators claimed to be afraid of sending the wrong message."
Cleveland has not been immune to this wave of homophobia. Aubrey Wertheim is the director of the Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center, the first gay and lesbian organization recognized by the city and the largest gay-lesbian social service agency in Cleveland.
Cleveland has had "isolated assaults and killings," said Wertheim. "There have been some bashings at Edgewater (a west side park)."
Wertheim said there are "occasional pick-up cases. The best known example was the Miller attack outside of Isis, the local women's bar, about four years ago." Two lesbians were picked up, assaulted, and then shot. One of the women died, and the murderer has never been caught.
"The community is so closeted though," said Wertheim, "Instances of homophobia are not easy to find."
By Mona Ahmed, published October 21, 1988
People see them as abnormal, disgusting, sick. They are called vile, immoral, and crazy and they are often the objects of violence and discrimination. They are homosexuals, and despite growing gay and lesbian awareness, today's society in a general is still highly homophobic.
Homophobia refers to the unexplained or irrational fear of sexual and personal intimacy between persons of the same sex. Society's attitudes in general regarding homosexuality are negative. This is exemplified through legal, moral and social policies, the majority of which regard homosexuality as abnormal.
In general, homosexuality is regarded as "immoral," "vulgar," and "obscene," except in the few cities, one state, and a few businesses which include "sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination clauses.
Our culture is based on a monogamous, heterosexual model from which any variation is considered "abnormal." This belief is the moving force behind the four levels of homophobic attitudes developed by Dr. Dorothy Riddle, a psychologist from Tucson, Arizona.
The first of these levels is repulsion, where homosexuality is seen as a "crime against nature." Gays are immoral, sick, crazy, evil, etc. and anything should be done to try to change them.
Another negative attitude is pity. People see heterosexuality as preferable and every effort is made to help "cure" gays. Those who cannot be "cured" are pitied because of their "disease".
"It's kind of sad, I guess," remarked one student. "I mean, there's something wrong with them but I guess they cant help it."
Tolerance is another attitude taken by many people in our society. Homosexuality may be tolerated because it is just a phase of adolescent development and homosexuals may "grow out of it." Consequently, gays are treated as less mature and childish because they are still working through their adolescent behaviors.
The fourth level of negative attitudes is acceptance. This attitude still implies that there is something abnormal which needs to be accepted.
"I think it's okay if that's the way that someone wants to be, as long as they don't bother me. Their sexuality is their own business," said a senior.
One significant aspect of homophobia is not addressed in Riddle's attitudes: AIDS. Fear of AIDS (which is sometimes even referred to as the "gay plague") has increased our society's homophobic attitude.
"AIDS has created an additional stigma for homosexuals. People would rather point the finger at gays like it is their fault than think openly and acceptingly," remarked a freshman.
The emergence of gay awareness and the breaking down of homophobic attitudes appears to be progressing much like the fight for civil rights. Gay advocates are trying to educate the society about gay issues in order to break down negative attitudes.
"When people are uneducated they generally tend to be prejudiced.
People fear differences, similar to the discrimination of blacks or other ethnic or racial groups. Anyone who is different is likely to be ostracized," said a senior.
Although it seems as if the majority of our society condones such negative homophobic attitudes, there are many who promote positive attitudes towards homosexuality as well. Dr. Riddle has similarly developed four positive attitudes.
Those who support homosexuals may themselves be uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality, however, they are aware of the unfairness and discrimination towards gays. in our society and work to safeguard the rights of gays.
"They (homosexuals) are different, but they're still people," said a freshman.
Admiration for gays occurs when people realize that it takes courage and strength to be homosexual in our society. These individuals are able to examine their own homophobic attitudes and begin to combat them.
Those who value gays as a diverse and valid part of our culture have a true appreciation for homosexuality. Such people are willing to fight homophobia in themselves as well as society.
"Homosexuals are human beings and they deserve every right and respect as any other human being," stated a sophomore student.
The final positive attitude is nurturance. These people view gays as a valuable segment of our society. They have overcome their own homophobic attitudes and are able to be gay advocates.
By Wendy White, published October 21, 1988
Ohio State University, Oberlin, Ohio University, University of Cincinnati and more than a hundred other colleges all have something Case Western Reserve University doesn't have—a sexual orientation non-discrimination statement. Greg Davis, president of the Lesbian and Gay Student Union, is trying to change that fact.
Insertion of a sexual orientation clause into CWRU's Nondiscrimination Statement was suggested in 1982 by Charlie Callander, an openly gay faculty member. David Ragone, former president of the University, opposed the idea on the basis that it wasn't the University's policy to enumerate the many groups against which it does not discriminate. In effect this was a "refusal to acknowledge that there is discrimination against gay people," said Davis. "Since changes in policy do not usually occur without the support of the President, the issue went no further."
Last spring, a forum on prejudice was created in response to ongoing acts of discrimination. "I felt this to be a good time to revive this issue and identify a group of supporters," Davis said. "Changes in the nondiscrimination policy were identified as a main objective, a logical pursuit for the Forum on Prejudice."
The Board of Trustees meets three times a year to make policy decisions for the University. In between the full board meetings, an Executive Committee meets once a month to discuss issues and set the agenda. Although the Executive Committee has the power to act on behalf of the Board of Trustees, the issue of the sexual orientation clause only reached the discussion stage at the August and September meetings. "Nobody knows why they haven't acted. Executive Committee has discussed it in closed session, shrouding the issue in secrecy", Davis said.
Davis feels that the Board of Trustees "needs to understand that it is not being asked to endorse a lifestyle." Gay people, Davis insisted, do not need the endorsement of the Board.
"Although it is intellectually irresponsible, individual Board members may hold homophobic views, but it is the University's responsibility to protect the individual. The Board protects a person's right to be Jewish without endorsing Judaism. Gays are subject to the same kind of discrimination that haunts religious and racial groups as well as women," said Davis.
"The fears gays have are real; finding housing, getting a job, enjoying the privileges straight people enjoy," Davis said. "It's a trade off of rights. You trade off your right to be happy and accept who you are for the right to be treated equally."
Homosexuals have never found disclosure easy, but having to face the very real discrimination against gays that exists in today's society makes it just that much harder. The main point for pursuing this policy change, " is to openly state that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unacceptable," said Davis.
"Who could possibly and reasonably be against equal protection for ,everyone?" said Davis. "The people who resist this change, their position is that this policy will make the University vulnerable. When I can't identify a legitimate fear, I begin to think they are just homophobic, and what they really fear is homosexuality."
Secretary of the Corporation Philip Legge, when asked what concerns of the Board were causing the hesitancy, said, "I am not at liberty to say. The subject is under review. There will be further discussion on the topic."
Additional requests for specifics on the Board's progress were met with the same response. "Complex issues sometimes take months and even years" to be resolved, said Legge.
The Board of Trustees met on Friday, October 14. The sexual orientation issue was not on the agenda. Legge, when asked on October 13 whether the topic could still be discussed at the meeting said it was "possible but not likely."
Although the next full Board meeting isn't until March, there is a possibility the issue will be addressed by Executive Committee in the intervening months.
"The Executive Committee has acted for the Board of Trustees on, matters of more importance. Though I wouldn't want to predict, I would not be too surprised if the Executive Committee was to take final action on this matter," President Agnar Pytte commented.
Inclusion of sexual orientation into the statement would be an action met positively by many groups and individuals who have lent their support. Amy Zoldak, president of the Undergraduate Student Government said, "The USG's policy of recognizing groups includes such a statement. We are in favor of modifying the University's policy to include sexual orientation." Two bills have been passed by the Undergraduate Student Assembly to this effect.
President Pytte will support any decision made by the Board of Trustees or its Executive Committee, "My own personal view is that I do support the insertion of that phrase into the statement," commented] Pytte Efforts will continue to be made to further the progress initiated by Davis. The Faculty Senate and USG intend to bring the issue before the Student Affairs Visiting Committee which reports to the Student Life Committee of the Board of Trustees The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate will bring the issue up with the Academic Affairs Commit. tee of the Board of Trustees. In addition there is a Student Life Committee for the Undergraduate Colleges which USG will approach directly for its endorsement.
CWRU's Faculty Senate and USG plan on contacting other universities who have instituted such& change to determine the impact has had. It is their hope that the Board of Trustees will take this broad support into considerate when making its decision.
"I'm really pleased with the progress that has been made," Davis said. "I think that working through the channels we have identified, will find success in the near future.
Published October 21, 1988
I was approached earlier last week and asked to contribute my views on this week's Focus section in The Observer. I declined for several reasons. First of all, the person I spoke to made it clear to me that the subject was to be "homophobia"(i.e. intolerance) with collaborative articles like surveys on "homophobia," analysis of how the AIDS scare contributed to "homophobia," a psychological diagnosis of "homophobia," and of course there was to be a homosexual's viewpoint, too. But how to present the radical, intolerant, extremist viewpoint? Let's give Robert Georgi a phone call. Maybe he'd like to shoot his mouth off again. Of course I would, but not until some light has been shed on the true issue before us. Homosexuality is an issue of right and wrong, not intolerance or tolerance. Homosexuality is the only mental illness that becomes normal after a certain age. "Gay rights" groups strong-armed the American Psychiatric Association into removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. (It can be diagnosed as a mental illness if the subject is under eighteen.) This is comparable to schizophrenics petitioning to have schizophrenia removed as a mental disorder. Pretty interesting stuff! Patient: I am not sick! Doctor: How can you say that? you're suffering from pneumonia! Patient: I am not ill because I say pneumonia is not an illness. This trend would make short work of the medical profession.
It has come to the point where my signature on a commentary or letter to the editor precludes some people from actually reading my writing. They simply predetermine what I'm saying from the headline it receives. That is why I could not agree to take part in a forum like Focus on this issue. The opinions I share with many people will only be dismissed as "there he goes again!" If you read this letter and nodded your head in agreement as you read it, please speak up. If the viewpoints of the majority, if the correct moral perspective (whatever it may be) is consistently voiced by only one individual, they will be dismissed as belonging solely to that individual, no matter how few may disagree with him.
Robert A. Georgi, Undergraduate student
Published October 21, 2009
Recently there has been a considerable amount of commotion over prejudice at Case. There have been committees, task forces, meetings, discussions, etc. It seems that a new bandwagon has arrived at our University. As usual, it has given a lot of people something to talk about when they don't feel like studying, and provided USG with something to make one of their important official statements about. The truth is there's not much that can be done about it. Prejudice is a problem that is very personal and takes a very long time to overcome. The only thing that can be done is to enact and enforce non-discriminatory policies.
With this in mind, let's get down to the real issue at hand: gay and lesbian rights. This is the only area where action has been proposed. (If you were unaware of the proposed addition of a "sexual orientation" clause to University policy, you aren't anymore.) Although this policy revision is a sad comment on the moral state of our generation, it is necessary. It is necessary because in order to protect the rights of the many we must protect the rights of the few.
To those who, like myself, believe that homosexuality is an inherently unnatural practice (or just plain wrong), I say this: Do not let all of this talk abut prejudice sway you from what you know to be true. I maintain that you are not a bigot for calling something what it is, nor are you "unenlightened." If being "Enlightened" means playing dumb or lowering my standards, then you can keep it!
One last thing must be said, and it is very important. Abuse in any form does not accomplish anything. A person's lifestyle is one's own choice as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. You do have a right, though, to get angry when your activities fee goes to support a group that's main function is to help homosexuals feel better about what they do! LGSU is the third highest USG funded group at CWRU.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that you do not need to give up your values to be unprejudiced. You do not need to let someone lower your moral standards so that they feel better about what they do. Stand firm in what you believe, but remember that discrimination and abuse only create problems. If you want to do something, vote for people who have similarly high standards. Whatever you do, don't be just another person on another bandwagon!
Lane Davy, Undergraduate student
Published October 28, 1988
I would like to alter somewhat, or at least qualify, the few words quoted by me in last weeks article on Homophobia. Since publication of that article, many gay and lesbian law students have approached me to discuss their differing opinions to my perception. I would like to make it clear that I am in my first year at CWRU, and at this point have not personally witnessed many overt homophobic acts. The other students who contacted me, however, have made it clear that the longer I am around the University, the more aware of these acts I will become.
Addressing the two unsympathetic letters last week, I feel that they raise some interesting, albeit contradictory points. One student discussed the previous holding of the American Psychiatric Association that homosexuality was a mental illness. It was removed because the Psychiatric Association realized it could no longer label something that is natural for millions of people a "disorder" simply because it was morally repugnant.
This same student goes on to analogize homosexuality to a physical disease such as pneumonia. To this nonsensical and disconnected analogy I can only add that it was once believed that a Negro was somehow sub-human. If you are not Black, do you also subscribe to this point of view? It is keeping with your theoretical "arguments." You may also not be gay (again, I am only assuming), and if you indeed are not gay, I don't believe that you are qualified to describe our supposed "malady."
My fraternity at school knew I was gay when I was asked to pledge, and they also knew I was a good candidate. They allowed themselves to become educated, and they now have at least one friend who they know is gay. When Wesleyan University adopted a non-discrimination clause including sexual-orientation some years ago, many of the fraternities, both single and co-ed, rallied support, particularly those with openly gay members. They realized the "rightness" of freedom, and the importance of protecting the right to varying lifestyles, either chosen, or not.
There are gay and lesbian law students who can make much more eloquent arguments than I. I can simply say that I've always been gay, I enjoy being gay, and my family and friends care for me, all knowing that I'm gay. Try to learn about what it means to grow up homosexual, in a society based primarily on a heterosexual patriarchy. And don't burn your bridges now while you are so young; the fact is that if you're accused of a crime I'll still defend you, if you're ill a gay doctor will still cure you, and if you're troubled a gay priest will still ease your conscience.
D.J. Hallett, Law Student
Published October 28, 1988
Last issue Robert Georgi made some misleading statements in his attack on homosexuality. After he finished fashioning himself as some sort of righteous radical of wisdom in a tedious introduction, Georgi writes that, "Gay rights groups strong-armed the American Psychiatric Association into removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders." Such a statement conjures up an image of a huge gay man twisting the arm of these pliable psychiatrists until they cry, against their will, "Uncle! Uncle! We'll remove homosexuality from our list! Now please quit bullying us!"
The fallacy of Georgi's point lies in his own letter. He writes, "This is comparable to schizophrenics petitioning to have schizophrenia removed as a medical disorder." Now there's a likely parallel. Would Mr. Georgi have us believe that schizophrenics could conceivably strong-arm the APA into removing their illness from a list of mental disorders? Of course not, and I would venture to say that even Mr. Georgi might agree that such a scenario is ludicrous.
Herein lies Georgi's error. The APA wasn't strong-armed into doing anything. They may have been prodded, and they may have been lobbied, but they ultimately made a decision based on their own professional integrity. Which is to say they realized homosexuality is not a mental disorder, but a legitimate alternative lifestyle. What's more, the APA made this realization a decade ago. It is unfortunate that Mr. Georgi and people like him have yet to come as far.
Sincerely, Will Allison Undergraduate Student
Published October 28, 1988
I am writing in response to the October 21 issue of The Observer which contained a special insert on issue of homosexual behavior. It ms that the modem medical community wants to be the sole moral authority concerning whether or not homosexuality is accepted as a vile public lifestyle. I disagree wholeheartedly with the belief that psychologists and psychiatrists able to be the "experts" in this regard. Homophobia is a terrible characterization of a common sense reaction.
As a born-again Christian who accepts the authority of the Scriptures, we do not find in the Bible the idea that homosexuality is a result of nature. People are not born gay. The Bible throughout witnesses to the fact that homosexuality is a symptom of idolatry. In "Romans I," the Apostle Paul says that because we worship things other than God as the ultimate source of meaning, God gives us over to a "reprobate mind" (vs. 28) to do things which are not suitable. -The last curse that God allows is the depravity of same sex behavior; lesbianism and homosexuality both bear equal condemnation.
This is also in harmony with the Old Testament which requires capital punishment for both. Not to exonerate perverse heterosexuality either, the Bible enjoins the death penalty for adultery too in many instances.
God's approved cultural vehicle for sex is the family. Homosexuality is a violent attack on God's law and order and His creation-design. The anti-religious psychiatric community desires to become the arbiters in this dispute, but since they are devoted evolutionists, our religious appeal appears to them as madness. As followers of Feuerbach, they have forsaken the Biblical ethos. The Plain Dealer not too long ago published an article in their Sunday Magazine on Gaetan Dugan, who many believe was one of the first homosexual carriers of AIDS to the United States. He was a gorgeous flight steward who in the advance stages of his disease callously perused bath-houses and committed many acts of murder to other gays, the article implied he could have had as many as 1500 contacts.
I note also that in the early church there existed "saved" repentant homosexuals. The First Letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 6, verses 9-11, suggests that men were recovered out of this lifestyle. And in the born-again movement today you find many people who have been changed as a result of the New Birth.
I find the discussion in The Observer to be narrowly rationalistic as if the issue here was assumed to reach a certain goal by virtue of a vague liberal sentimental mush that informs most of the intellectuals around here. Anybody with an eye to history, as well as science, knows: that western law has been on a slippery slope from the time of the Reformation. The last great Christian legal culture was Calvin's Geneva and believe it or not our forefathers, the Puritans, had a healthy proper respect for Old Testament Law.
Rationalist culture has no other source of authority than human reason. In this light, the authority then becomes a pragmatistic use of science as the source of legal endeavor. Legislators ask whether the allowance or homosexuality will harm of help the social order, rather than ask what would God have us do. Modem man's moral ultimately pursues a slippery slope mentality. All moral restraints are to be thrown, off. Lesbians are to receive the right, to adopt children. Girls in early puberty are allowed to procure abortions without even informing their; parents. The State is conducting a methodical war against the family. We witness this war against the family also in the new Benelect plan which has hurt the married couple with one spouse working hardest of all, and given money freely to those who may or may not have needed any insurance from Case Western Reserve at all.
One thing is certain, we who are Christians have been fence-sitting long enough. Don't expect us to put our heads in the sand any longer.
Tim Calhoun, Undergraduate Philosophy Major
Published October 28, 1988
Once again, the issue of homosexuality and homophobia rears its ugly head. And, once again, speaking in The Observer for "the majority" (as Robert Georgi implies), are lane Davy and Robert Georgi.
Mr. Georgi, you claim that homosexuality is a mental disorder. However, you present no evidence support this claim. There is no reason to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder simply because it differs from the norm. To say that homosexuals are "sick" is, basically, to say that your point of view is right (why does it seem that you'd agree with this?) and anyone differing with you is wrong. To imply that you speak for the majority is a ludicrous claim--if you spoke for the majority, then there wouldn't be so many people refusing to read your letters.
Mr. Davy, perhaps you believe the proposed addition to the anti-discrimination clause is unnecessary, but then again you've probably never gotten complaints from people on that very subject. After our exchange of letters in The Observer last year, I received various phone calls from people who were complaining about having been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. At least one of those cases was an obvious one. As long as people continue to believe that homosexuality is some sort of "inherently unnatural practice (or just plain wrong)," there will be discrimination. If we're going to have an anti-discrimination policy, then it ought to be complete.
Seth I. Rich, Undergraduate Student
Published October 28, 1988
Your October 21 "Focus on Homophobia" included a photo of "anti-gay grafitti [sic] found in a campus restroom." I found the photo itself disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing as the fact that most of the pictured graffiti was written by you, the Editor of this newspaper.
Only one of the five items in the photo was originally on the wall of the men's restroom which happens to be directly outside The Observer office. (Not by coincidence, this item is also the only illegible portion of the photo.) The other four items are graffiti written elsewhere which you copied onto one wall for the sake of a "good" photo. Observer staff sources confirm this story.
You re-fabricated the graffiti in a way which made it seem more "sensational", then presented it as if it were the genuine item. You exploited the facts, and in the process diminished any newsworthy value they may have once held. When such unethical practices of the Editor-in-Chief are known, the integrity of the entire paper is questionable.
Are your readers to assume that last week's front page photo of a twisted bicycle at the side of a street is the actual scene of the accident, or just another of the editor's "recreations" of the scene? Perhaps it's merely another one of her mangled prop bicycles covered with ketchup and cherry Jell-o for effect.
The analogy might seem extreme, but I hope it illustrates the difference between reporting the news and creating it (or recreating it, as the case may be).
I am disappointed that The Observer has sunk to such a low level of standards by resorting to such underhanded tactics. I am more disappointed that it is due to the actions of the Editor herself. I hope this trend does not continue.
Editor's Note: The photo of "antigay graffiti in last weeks focus section was intended to serve as an illustration to the focus section. The photo was recreated for effect; however, all of the phrases were genuine and were found in the same area on one of the bathroom stalls. The photo caption should have mentioned that the photo was recreated.
By Craig S. Rich, published November 4, 1988
"She came to me about two years ago. It was after her second year in college, and told me that she was a lesbian," said Judie Wayman.
Judie is currently a graduate student at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. She approached The Observer and was willing to give her point-of-view on gays and lesbians; the point-of-view of a parent.
Judie said that she had suspected that her daughter, Carol, was a lesbian since Carol was in middle school. She and her husband had only mentioned it jokingly, but they never really talked about it.
"I wish that I had spoken to Carol about it," stated Judie, " I wish that I had read a lot more and knew a lot more about it while she was growing up, rather than just sticking with the myths and then having to face it when she came out. I think it would have been a big help to her when she was growing up had there been people she could talk to."
The situation in which Judie's daughter finally told her that she was a lesbian is a very ironic one. Judie explained, "I kind of pried it out of her. She was sitting in a cedar closet upstairs reading a book. She'd never sat in the cedar closet before. I found her there and tried to get her to come out. I kept telling her 'to come out of the closet.' I said it once or twice and then realized what I was saying. But I continued to say it and she was in there laughing hysterically. So she did come out of the closet, literally and figuratively.
"When she told me," continued Judie, "I thought that if she started dating and got involved with guys then she would realize that she wasn't a lesbian; it was a stage she was going through. And then within a short period of time, we talked about it and I realized that it wasn't a stage. She knew about it since she was about four years old. Until she got to college, she didn't realize that she wasn't the only one in the world who felt that way.
Most parents, upon discovering they have a gay or lesbian child, might feel as though they had done something wrong in raising their child. "If that was the case," Judie said, "Then Carol's sister would have been a lesbian also. Her sister is heterosexual."
"I find that there is a difference in how men deal with this and women deal with it as a whole," answered Judie to the question of how her now ex-husband deals with their lesbian daughter. "I talked to a lot of my friends, but men don't seem to want to talk about it. My family knows about Carol; his family does not."
Many people in our society have labeled homosexuals as sinners is the eyes of God or as mentally ill.' don't. think that when ten percent d a population is a certain way, it's he cause they are all sinning," states Judie. "It's part of them. I read that one psychologist mentioned that al his homosexual patients are ill and all his straight patients are also ill. It's not a mental illness as far as I'm concerned."
Carol was very active in leading marches and demonstrations while she attended the University of Michigan. As a result, Carol had received death threats. "There are People out there that when they hear someone is a homosexual, feel they should be put to death," said Judie.
Judie feels that her relationship with her daughter is a much more open one then it had been in the past. "It's easier, Judie said "because she has changed, because she is so happy with who she is and what she is doing. She is one of my heroes. I'm really proud of what she's doing."
Judie's advice to anyone looking for a way to tell their parents about their sexual orientation is to read the book Now That You Know, give the book to their child, and discuss it.
"There are some kids that I know are really frightened about it and with very good reason. They know. that if they told their parents, their parents would throw them out.
"The things that are really important to me, as a mother," said Judie, "is that my child lead a productive life, an honest life, that she's happy, loves, and is loved, and makes a contribution. Given all that, whom she goes to bed with is not my concern."
Published November 4, 1988
As someone who knows what it's like to get in serious sheep dip over personal convictions, I must stand up for Robert Georgi. I applaud his determination to present a different opinion; even, as in this case, one with which I do not agree.
It is important to note that not everything Georgi said can be disproved. Since sex was originally (and sometimes still is) intended as a method of reproduction, homosexuality is biologically unsound.
Today's permissive society is what allows homosexuality to exist as a respectable and acceptable alternative. That permission must go both ways. In the same way that certain fraternities have graciously refrained from bashing my head in, those of us who accept homosexual rights must allow non-violent, anti-gay protesters to have their say.
Francis Uy, Undergraduate Student
Published November 4, 1988
Though the "Letters" page in The Observer is not the ideal place to debate the Christian response to homosexuality, I wish to respond briefly to Tim Calhoun's letter carried on 10/28/88.
Mr. Calhoun's sentiments do reflect the opinions of many Christians. However, he does not speak for all who seek to follow Christ. Within the broad spectrum of Christianity there are at least some who would say that promiscuity is the sin rather than sexual orientation. The interpretation of biblical passages commonly cited in debates such as this one are open to more than one understanding.
To come to terms with one's own thoughts, feelings, prejudices and fears about homosexuality and homophobia requires study and debate within a trusting community. Anyone on campus who seeks such a discussion is most welcome to call the University Christian Movement at 231-2260.
Rev. Joan Huff, Campus Minister
Published November 4, 1988
The letters to the editor last week presented (in defense of homosexuality) several objections to my previous letter. Two of them brought up the same argument. The authors refer to my statement that "Gay rights groups strong-armed the American Psychiatric Association into removing homosexuality from the list of mental disorders." One wrote: "...the American Psychiatric Association realized it could no longer label something that is natural for millions of people a 'disorder' simply because it was morally repugnant."
I think it is worth noting that a fellow of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Neurology would disagree. He reports that "a poll of thousands of APA members taken after the APA vote found that two thirds of those polled feel that homosexuality is a disorder." So despite the fact that the APA vote is invoked as evidence that the members consider homosexuality normal, many members, in fact, admitted that while they publicly argued that homosexuality is normal, they privately believe it to be abnormal. They justify this in terms of humanitarism. It used to be called lying.
The accusation was also made that I lacked evidence to support my "claims." I feel obliged therefore to list my sources: Homosexuality & Hope by Gerard Van Den Aardweg, Ph.D.; Homosexuality/A Psychoanalytic Study by Irving Bieber, Harvey J. Dain, et al; Homosexuality and American Psychiatry by Ronald Bayer; Toward an Understanding of Homosexuality by Daniel Cappon; Gay is not Good by Frank M. du Mas, Ph.D.; Homosexuality by Charles W. Socrarides, M.D.; and from the Policy Review Journal, the article "Is Homosexuality Normal?" by Steven Goldberg.
Some feel that the apparent arbitrariness of moral arguments preclude them from having the persuasive force possessed by statements of a purely logical nature. In arguing that an assessment of homosexuality as abnormal is incorrect, homosexual spokesmen assert that it is as unwarranted as, say, a similar assessment of left-handedness. To do that ignores the fact that the crucial distinction between left-handedness and homosexual behavior is the normality of the causal factors that generate left-handedness. An assessment of normality is like a scientific question in that the assessment of the behavior depends on the normality or abnormality of the causation. To say that such an assessment is based on purely subjective values ignores the former consideration.
It is my suspicion that the homosexual does not merely want the rights that should always have been his. Nor does he merely want the empathy and openness we should offer anyone with physical or psychological problems. The homosexual wants social affirmation of the normality of his behavior. I am convinced that nothing can justify our, doing that.
Robert A. Georgi, Undergraduate student