Letter to the Editor: Pink triangles ignite controversy with students: Student demands accountability
Published September 13, 1988
I want to know whether or not any action has been initiated on the part of this University to apprehend the group and/or individuals responsible for littering our campus with these pink triangles. They are everywhere, lurking, waiting ... most of them accompanied by a little epithet intended to explain the meaning of the eyesore to those free from the burden of already knowing. "Queer Pride." "Gay and Lesbian Pride." There are more I am sure, but it is rather obvious who is to blame for this evil.
To those who fail to see this campus-wide act of vandalism as reprehensible, I say consider the consequences: Who is going to clean up each and every one of those little triangles, and more importantly, who do you think is going to pay for it? That's right. You!
The University will probably swallow the costs (as well as its integrity) in the interest of trying to maintain its all-embracing human rights philosophy. But guess where the money's going to come from? Each and every one of the students at this University will have to indirectly subsidize the clean-up effort with money that ought go to things like facilities renovation, improved athletic programs and foodservice, not to mention hiring more instructors (or paying the ones we have already what they're worth).
So you see, these pink triangles are not as innocuous as their artists would have you believe. The students of this University have enough financial burden to shoulder without having to stomach unnecessary expenses such as these. The only solution is to let the blame fall where it belongs.
It is no mystery what group is behind this blatant act of vandalism. The University must hold the LGSU financially responsible for this unless they are willing to turn over the individual perpetrators. No one can tell me they don't know who they are either. If fraternities can be charged for similar activities, then so should any other University sanctioned and sponsored organization, the LGSU included.
Perhaps a more accurate caption for these glyphs would read: "Symbol of Subversive and Illegal Activities Endorsed by the Gay Community of CWRU," because that's what it is. If all they want to do is heighten public awareness their condition, why must they creep around in the night defacing University property in the name of their cause? I for one, will not pay my tuition until I know that those responsible for the damages have been held accountable.
Michael Cavotta, Undergraduate Student
Letter to the Editor: Classes promote awareness
Published September 13, 1988
Last week, several pink triangles appeared all over campus. It was readily obvious to me that no one knew what they meant, so I decided to chalk in the meaning of the symbol next to as many as I could find-the pink triangle, whether inverted or upright, symbolizes gay and lesbian pride. Soon afterwards, some homophobic individuals felt compelled to spray paint black slashes over these triangles. Why?
Such blatant homophobia warrants action. As a very concerned student, I strongly recommend that CWRU place more emphasis on education about homosexuality through classes, lectures, UCS programs and the like. Gays and lesbians are everywhere-they are your friends, your neighbors, your professors, your parents (yes, it happens), your siblings ... everyone!
Stereotypes are terribly demeaning and untrue, but as long as people hold these attitudes, they will treat "fags" and "dykes" and "queers" as just words rather than living, breathing human beings. The widespread ignorance about homosexuality is sickeningly hurtful. A gay and lesbian sensitivity training program may open many eyes, ears, hearts and minds. In an institute of higher learning, I am disheartened to see the lack of concern toward society's most diverse minority.
Shea M. Ramey, Undergraduate Student
Letter to the Editor: Homosexuals undermine own cause
Published September 13, 1988
Upon walking down Adelbert Road on Monday, September 9, I noticed the pink triangles accompanied by the sentence "Gay and Lesbian Pride" that had been painted over the weekend. Some may see the possibility to attack the gay community in these times of an increasingly visible and (rightly, I believe) respected homosexual community. Nonetheless, I feel a need in this case to do just that.
To be frank, my first reaction to the triangles and their statements was indignation. But gays and lesbians, being the politically correct group that they are, I kept my mouth shut and walked on.
Gays, just as so many other minorities, receive abdominal physical, mental, and socioeconomic abuse. While it would be ridiculous for me to declare myself unaffected by living in what is in many ways a prejudiced and discriminatory society, I truly believe that I have generally been tolerant and respectful of homosexuality.
I'm not claiming to be perfect or immune from prejudices, but am simply trying to show that I support and believe in the existence of homosexuality as a sexual and romantic orientation whose validity is no less than heterosexuality.
I cannot, however, respect or tolerate the implied superiority of a minority group's attitudes, no matter how easily it is to understand their aggressive backlash against a suppressive and cruel majority. It seems to me that such slogans "We're Queer, We're Here, Get Used to It," "Gay, That's All I have to Say," and the symbols on Adelbert's sidewalks seem more boastful than proud, suggesting, to me at least, that gays see their lifestyle as not equal, but superior. This would be as asinine a declaration as the ideas presented by gay bashers and white supremacists, and perhaps even more disheartening since it would mean that the victims of bigotry had become as the bigots themselves.
A more important issue is the animosity the symbols draw forth from many otherwise apathetic persons, possibly for the reason I have suggested. In assuming forms of self-declaration and expression that are almost militant, minorities succeed in enlightening no one, and often alienate and anger segments of the population that would otherwise be undecided or in agreement with their views. It feels as if "straight bashing" is becoming more popular than "fag-bashing," with the homophobia having become a ludicrously loaded gun. This is a tactic whose benefits I fail to see. Perhaps I'm cynical, but I wonder if the gay community isn't repeating so much of human history by itself undermining a homosexual/ heterosexual culture of mutual respect and acceptance.
Preston Williams, Undergraduate Student
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
Letter to the Editor: Student's opinions uninformed
Published September 27, 1988
I feel compelled to respond to the over-technical and antiquated characterization of homosexuality that Denver H. Dash expressed in the September 20 issue of The Observer.
Mr. Dash asserted that his letter intended to "examine and classify homosexuality in a logical manner, in an effort to define what our attitudes toward it should be." However, I would no more adopt his attitude toward homosexuality than I would hurl myself in front of a speeding RTA bus.
The most disturbing part of Mr. Dash's "analysis" is that "homosexuality should be thought of as a disorder, and like all disorders we should do our best to treat it." Mr. Dash has failed to realize that after years of unsuccessfully trying to "cure" homosexuality, the psychiatric community has finally removed it from the list of mental disorders. If an entire group of experts no longer believes that homosexuality is a disorder, who is Mr. Dash to tell anyone that it is?
Furthermore, I object to Mr. Dash's blanket conclusion that homosexuality "is not normal, and therefore should not be treated as normal." He supposedly is "analyzing" homosexuality, yet he concludes with an obvious value judgment. "Normal" is an inherently subjective word; what is normal to one person is not necessarily normal to another. It is normal to a homosexual to be attracted to members of the same sex. We cannot, as Mr. Dash suggests, limit our definition of "normal" to the desire or ability to procreate, as we then risk labeling as abnormal all heterosexuals who do so. Should medical science find a "cure" for them as well? Homosexuality has a long history in the human race and in the animal kingdom, and is not likely to disappear or be "cured." We all need to accept that reality, and accept those who have not been previously accepted. As for Mr. Dash, I wish he had made an effort to adequately research his topic before he subjected the readers of this newspaper to his uninformed opinions.
Scott R. Miller, School of Law
Letter to the Editor: Students falsely labeled defective
Published September 27, 1988
As I was reading the September 20th issue of The Observer, I came across Denver Dash's letter to the editor and was deeply saddened. I am a student of medicine here at CWRU. I am taught to examine disease not as a collection of signs and symptoms, lab results and physical findings, but as part of the whole picture centered around the patient. To try to extrapolate the whole picture from one fact-one test result-is ludicrous and dangerous. Yet this is how Mr. Dash has attempted to explain homosexuality, by extrapolating from one fact. Alas, even this fact is narrow minded. Mr. Dash claims that homosexuals are "defective" because they cannot procreate. Does this definition also hold true for women who never want to bear children, or men who never cared to sire a child? Does this definition also hold true for heterosexual couples who chose to use birth control? Does all sex have to occur for the sole purpose of procreation? The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic "No!" In fact, I submit to you that homosexuals can further the process of the human race. The raising of adopted children is a common way for sterile heterosexual couples to "have" children; why can't homosexuals "have" children in the same way? Wouldn't a lesbian be giving birth to a child if she were artificially inseminated? It is not hard to see that Mr. Dash does not understand the issues about which he is writing. The issue is not about scientific facts or procreation. The issue of homosexuality is about love and lust, caring and understanding, friendship and romance. Homosexuality is about boyfriends and girlfriends just like any heterosexual relationship, and until you can understand that fact, you cannot profess to know anything about homosexuality. Eli M. Lourie, Medical School
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.