1997: Coming Out Day chalkings

Letters to the Editor 10/17/1997

Letter to the Editor: Chalkings in poor taste

Published October 17, 1997

I am writing about some potentially offensive chalkings that have been seen on campus sidewalks recently. They seem to be the products of degenerate, deviant minds which constantly think about sex and who have chosen to share their thoughts with everyone.

I am, of course, referring to the numerous chalkings of the number 69, which, I believe, the French call "soixante-neuf." I assume that this is the advocacy of a certain activity which is illegal - even between consenting, married adults-in certain parts of this country such as Utah.

I do point out that sodomy has been legal in the state of Ohio since 1974, so it is not the suggestion that people break the law wantonly. However, I question the taste behind this particular message.

While I suppose that it is commendable that this advocacy suggests the idea of mutual enjoyment between partners, as opposed to the patriarchal image of a woman on her knees, I still do not appreciate your "dark sexual desires" for "indiscriminate sex." Please leave me out of your "disgusting sex lives," whoever you may be.

Note for the humor-impaired: the preceding message is dripping with sarcasm.

Anthony de Jesus, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Speak out against homophobia

Published October 17, 1997

While traveling across campus last Monday, I became appalled at the recent rash of anti-homosexual chalkings around Thwing and the Kelvin Smith Library. Apparently, some individual or group of individuals is trying to encourage homosexuals to stay in the closet, thus hiding their own sexuality and ensuring acceptance in society. These messages were also accompanied by other highly offensive and homophobic scribbling such as "Gays burn in Hell."

Certain members of the student body need to be enlightened.

First of all, being gay is not a choice, and it is not "wrong." It is as natural a preference as being straight. Whatever reason you have to believe that homosexuality is unnatural or immoral, the fact is that homosexuality is, and has been, present in our society - you cannot change that. It is the constitutions of those individuals who discriminate against homosexuals that need to be reformed. Gay individuals deserve the same basic human rights and acceptance as everyone else.

Many homophobes would say that being gay results in some kind of destructive force in our culture. It doesn't. On the other hand, ignorance, intolerance and the unwillingness of many individuals to accept others in spite of their differences are three very destructive and prevalent social cancers. One of the chalkings argued that if one tolerates homosexuality, then bigotry should be equally tolerated. This is preposterous. All are entitled to their opinions, but if your beliefs manifest themselves in discriminatory actions against those who you consider inferior, then you are taking away another individual's inherent rights. Proclaiming homosexuality does not infringe on the rights of anyone. It is for this reason that actions of bigotry should never be tolerated - it is the misdeeds of the intolerant and the narrow-minded which produce those negative consequences that need to be exterminated in our society.

The authors of these chalkings request that homosexuals keep their sexuality a secret, since only then will they garner acceptance. They figure if no one knows you are gay, you are; better off since you won't be discriminated against. Wrong. The solutions to the struggles of the gay community do not lie in encouraging ignorance of the issue but rest in the enlightenment of others to the notion that no matter what an individual's sexuality happens to be, they have the same rights to social acceptance and privilege as everyone else. No one should have to live or be expected to live with the burden of keeping their own sexuality hidden.

I have found that homophobia is very prevalent among college students, and as a heterosexual male, I often can't help feeling outnumbered by those of my ilk who harbor anti-homosexual attitudes. It is my hope that many other editorials that speak out against homophobia have accompanied my own.

Maxwell Lewis Neal, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: CWRU is not supportive for gays, lesbians

Published October 17, 1997

As a fifth-year student, I have grown tired of the annual attack on the way people love, in the form of vicious counter-chalkings reacting to National Coming Out Day (NCOD) messages. At many universities, NCOD is a time of celebration for lesbian, gay and bisexual students, staff and faculty. It is a unique time to make political statements, to acknowledge the variety of human love and to unite for support.

However, at CWRU, National Coming Out Week has become a time of controversial attack. Although many people are accepting of gay and lesbian people, there are always a few who anonymously chalk homophobic reactions to gay-friendly messages. The difference between the "coming out" markings and the reactions is simple: the first are proactive and affirming, the latter reactive and judgmental. This year's hate speech showed a considerable investment of time and energy. Its tone bordered on intellectual, hiding the ignorant slander in academic-looking words and broad concepts.

But rather than addressing homophobia, we expect and ignore these annual counterchalkings. Furthermore, recent attention to race and rape issues reinforces a paradox. We all, of varied races, genders and sexualities, live and work in a hostile environment, despite CWRU's claims of a safe and caring community.

The purpose of "coming out" is not about being in anyone's face with personal issues. The existence of gay and lesbian people is unavoidable: we are here and everywhere in the world. Queer politics of visibility and pride, demonstrated in symbols like rainbow flags and pink triangles, simply show our presence among human diversity. That diversity is real and here, like rain and sunshine; we all deal with it. Some people may feel uncomfortable and even aggressive about differences in sexual orientation. Therefore, part of "Coming Out Week" is to dispel myths about gay and lesbian people, so that the world can become more comfortable for everyone: lesbian, gay and straight.

Because there is little institutional support, it is difficult for people to "come out" at CWRU. There are many gay, lesbian, bisexual, curious and most importantly queerfriendly students, staff and faculty at this university. Unfortunately, we have never come together to take a stance against the reactive voices of homophobia present here, in our workplace, community and home.

I have been witnessing this pattern for years, and I am not only tired but angry. Why aren't there any preventative measures taken? Why isn't there a forum that acknowledges the importance of gender and sexuality politics? Why do we lack a sense of unity? Why do we attend here for four, often five, years only to perpetuate oppression and ignorance?

We are all fulfilling the demands of the homophobic undercurrent by staying quiet because complacency is compliancy. Queer politics emphasize that silence = death, so why does the CWRU environment feel like speech = death?

Olga Chwascinska, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Chalkers, please identify yourselves

Published October 17, 1997

Walking to my room last Saturday, I observed another testament of the intolerance of a supposedly small but vocal group on campus: the gay bashers. In an effort to raise consciousness of National Coming Out Week, the campus GLBA had chalked around campus. Not far from advertisements outside Fribley were the reactions "HIV: God's critique of indiscriminate sex" and "Heterosexuality: blessed with procreation."

Pointing out the logical flaws of these arguments would be futile since the authors have already openly admitted their ignorance and arguably would not care about proof. Instead, I think the issue here is the voice of the speakers. While the GLBA have shown no hesitation to identify themselves in their expression, those who have reacted have done so in anonymity. Both the GLBA and those opposing it are entitled to their beliefs and my feeling on who is right is of no consequence. But anonymous attacks such as these chalkings are nothing short of cowardly. So I challenge these and other hate propagandists to identify and defend themselves. Your covert approach accomplishes nothing. No ideas are changed nor any attitudes swayed. It just creates a sentiment of ill-will that this campus would be better off without.

Patrick Niemeyer, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Hate is not logical

Published October 17, 1997

This is a letter directed towards the author of the anti-gay chalkings which defiled our campus this weekend. You chose to share with us your opinions, now I share mine with you.

Hate speech occurs every year on this campus, but yours was different. You tried to make it sound tolerable by using logic, and that is the most offensive part of all. Hate is not logical, it is not rational, and it is not intelligent. However, there are flaws in your logic, as shown here.

"Don't oppress straight people by calling us homophobes!" First of all, how can you possibly presume to speak for the entire straight population? Most of my straight friends are staunch allies of gay people. And as for oppression, I've walked all over campus, and I didn't see one chalking that used the words `straight' and `homophobe' in connection at all.

"I know you hate me, but my veracity gives me the self-confidence you lack." If we are lacking in confidence because we publicly state our beliefs, how much confidence can you have if you do the same thing? And if you're so confident, why did you have to wait until all us `disgusting perverts' had finished chalking and gone home to write your manifestos? I walked from the Case Quad to north side at 11:30 p.m. on Friday, well after the GLBA was done, but I didn't find your epistles of morality until Saturday morning.

Lack of space keeps me from saying to you all that I desire. I would ask you to use the brains which got you into this school and consider your actions a little more carefully. I also urge you to contact me personally if you want to discuss this in depth. I know I do. Communication is the only way to break these barriers. Also, I will post the full version of this letter on cwru.gen for anyone interested.

Joshua Brown, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: We will not hide

Published October 17, 1997

The most dangerous hatred is not obscene language expressed in fits of bile and rage. Rather, it is self-assured righteousness which subverts truth and reason and endears closed minds.

Many of you saw the chalked responses to the sidewalk displays of GLBA, an alliance which includes heterosexuals who feel strongly enough to support our cause. What is that cause? It's not to create converts, nor to say we're better than others. It's to show we're proud of who we are. We will not sit quietly and hide in the shadows.

To the chalker in question, and to those who agree with the message: What are you afraid of? What worries you so much that you feel compelled to proclaim your anonymous bigotry to the world? Does my bisexuality threaten you? To what do your insecurities entitle you?

You think we can choose to conceal ourselves. And I say - you- have no right to demand that of us. Racial minorities and women have endured discrimination over the years, with no choice but to endure and protest the prejudice of others. Jews were told to hide, or face persecution and death; gays were no exception. Having once escaped eradication, we will not stand by and watch the lights go out once again.

To those who already know me - have I changed in your eyes? To those who do not - would you know the difference if I were straight? And to those who think they know me, and know what's best - your cowardice and hypocrisy attest to your own shortcomings. The truth, as always, shall prevail.

"Quick to judge, Quick to anger, Slow to understand - Ignorance and prejudice And fear go hand in hand." —Neil Peart

David Rodgers, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: Chalkers don't represent all Christians

Published October 17, 1997

I'd like to apologize to all members of the gay/lesbian/bisexual community at Case for the frighteningly misguided chalkings that have appeared across campus in response to Coming Out Week. I only guess that the individual who anonymously penned these sad, self-righteous remarks considers him/herself a representative of the Christian community (but then again maybe this person is as repelled by that idea as I am). Whatever the writer's intention, I and other Christians in our community are profoundly sickened by the sentiments expressed, if only because they appear to be fueled by an extremely distorted view of God's will rather than any understanding of Christ's love. Disagreeing with homosexuality as a moral choice does not necessitate reacting out of anger, fear or self-righteousness to individuals who are entirely deserving of love, respect, understanding and First Amendment rights. Christians don't have to be homophobes - Christ wasn't one.

Future sidewalk editorialists who so bravely share their unsolicited opinion ought to show enough courage to sign their names on what they scrawl. Show hate with pride and simplify lynching.

Alanna Lin, Undergraduate Student

Letter to the Editor: GLBA sends divisive message

Published October 17, 1997

Recently our school was defaced by a series of chalkings that were totally inappropriate. Where did these chalkings come from? The Gay Lesbian Bisexual Alliance (GLBA). Before I go any farther, I would just like to point out that I do not hate gay people. This is not an editorial attack on the GLBA, but rather on how they went about promoting their club.. I simply find that their methods for promoting their club were totally out of order. The GLB Alliance took their writings way too far and this was totally inappropriate.

The first chalking that I came upon was a series of "69s," which I would imagine were quite offensive to many people. They were all over, sometimes in series of threes and fours. One even was a message: "69 the right way!"

There were also a few rather large messages outside of Wade, Fribley and Thwing, promoting gay pride and the GLBA. These were more acceptable than the random acts of bashing found elsewhere on the campus. They also chalked messages about how they did not want to be oppressed and did not want to be punished and singled out by the heterosexual community. I feel the GLBA is really an alliance of hypocrites, out to anger the general public and stir up controversy rather than trying to blend into the campus. They do not want to be a part of the CWRU alliance, but it would seem to me that they would rather be their own alliance.

The GLBA needs to learn that they are a part of CWRU. They need to understand that to be a part of it, and to be a happy member, they don't need to attack others, but rather to educate them and encourage them to learn more. Instead of excluding heterosexuals from the GLBA, they need to invite them in. "Make friends not enemies," rather than start, a fight that was not there in the first place.

If the GLBA wants to attract members, then perhaps they should present an open hand rather than a closed fist. Their message seems to be saying that they are not different and that there are members all around. However, they come off saying that they ARE different and that they DO NOT belong together. If the GLBA wants to be a part of the CWRU campus, perhaps they should first let their members be a part of the student body.

Editor's note: GLBA president Valerie Molyneaux maintains that the "69" chalkings were not the work of anyone affiliated with the GLBA.

Noah E. Webster