Digital History at Ursinus

"Face Off: Pros and Cons of GALA," November 12, 1991

Dublin Core

Title

"Face Off: Pros and Cons of GALA," November 12, 1991

Subject

Campus benefits of GALA

Description

Physics professor John Ronning argues that GALA would promote a harmful if curable lifestyle that is homosexuality, while Sociology professor Regina Oboler argues that GALA will benefit all of campus.

Creator

John Ronning, Gina Oboler

Source

The Grizzly

Publisher

Ursinus College

Date

November 12, 1991

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

Dear Editor,

A group of anonymous homosexuals (GALA) recently circulated a letter soliciting faculty members to serve as contacts for students who wish to get in touch with the group. I would consider it extremly cruel to a student with homosexual inclinations to put him in contact with a group that is going to tell him or her: (1) that he or she was born that way and should accept it as their lot in life; (2) that the disgust and revulsion which normal, healthy people have for homosexual acts is a mental illness called "homophobia;" (3) that gay culture is wonderful and exciting (I wonder which part they mean--living with one disease after another and dying young-having someone's fist up your rectum?-mastrubation through a hole in the wall with thousands of anonymous partners?-urinating in your partner's mouth and then letting him take his turn-exchanging feces to eat? All these are regular features of gay culture).
I have a counter-offer to students who may have homosexual leanings: I will be happy to put you in contact with a group (run by ex-homosexuals) that can help you avoid that short and miserable lifestyle. My offer, of course, is based on the conviction that homosexuality is an unhealthy perversion. If GALA and its promoters want to deny that there is such a thing as sexual perversion, then they should be sure to also open up their group to those who are interested in sex with children, sex with the dead, and sex with sheep and dogs.

Sincerely,
John Ronning
Physics Dept.

Friends:

There seem to be a number of misconceptions abroad on campus about the newly formed Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and your October 22 article did little to correct them.

I'm proud to be the faculty advisor to this group. Those who know me know my interest in cultural diversity, in celebrating rather than merely tolerating the differences among us, and in trying to create a society in which each individual can freely seek to achieve her or his own individual potential. Society as a whole has come a long way toward reaching a state in which gender, racial and ethnic discrimination are unacceptable. Prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference, however, are still largely tolerated. Though perfect statistics are unavailible, the best availible ones indicate that as many as one in 10-15 individuals is gay. In previous generations, most of these people found it neceessary to conceal their sexual preferences; many still do.

Some of my personal interest in this issue began because of my uncle, who was gay. In his generation, outside of "Bohemian" circles, there was no question of tolerance for this preference. He found it hard to accept his own sexuality as normal, and was in constant inner conflict. He neither married nor had a long-term gay relationship; he was a very lonely man. The existence of a support structure of the kind GALA proposes to provide could have made all the difference in my uncle's life. I intend to do anything I can to change the social climate so that others can lead happier lives, relatively free from social stigma.

The Oct. 22 Grizzly article raises the issue of whether there is a "need for GALA on this campus." The other group having its constitution reviewed at the Oct. 16th SAC meeting was the Skydiving Club. Is there a need on campus for a Skydiving Club? I'd venture to guess that there are more gay people on campus than potential skydivers. A member of the Ursinus Hillel pointed out to me that the same question could be raised about the Hillel, which serves a very small portion of the community. However, in each of these organization, the group of people directly involved certainly sees the "need" for them, and it seems to me that whether they serve directly the needs of other students is entirely beside the point.

The issue that seems to casue some people concern is confidentiality. The article reports that "GALA members want to be anonymous. This is not exactly the case. After all, the members of the executive committee who attended the SAC meeting were making no attempt to maintain anonymity. What is true is that GALA has established a mechanism whereby gay students who prefer to remain "in the closet" can become involved with the organization. For GALA to acomplish its objectives, this is absolutely necessary. People who need peer counseling about their sexuality must be able to contact a supportive peer group without being required to make their identities known to everyone. At present, the organization officers are all out and perfectly willing to reveal who they are. All the anonymity they want is not to have their phone numbers published to all and sundry. It's difficult for me to see how anyone can deny that in the case of this particular organization there is a unique potential for harassment. Much intolerance is demonstrated even in quotes in the article: "I am against homosexuality"; "It offends me...I do not approve of the public organization such as GALA."

The author of your article finds problematic "how the club was going to be an active part of the Ursinus community, but remain anonymous." Part of the answer is that no-one is talking about complete anonymity for all members. The club will be an active part of the community by sponsoring speakers, workshops and other awareness events. They also plan to make trips to off-campus events, on which other students will be welcome to come along.

SAC, it is reported, is "debating as to whether the campus will benefit from the organization." (Does every organization have to argue that it will provide benefits to the entire campus?) I would make the assumption that gay students represent a portion of the community at least as substantial as other special interests represented in other student organizations. These students will benefit directly. Beyond this, I believe that all students will beneift from any organization that make efforts toward increasing appreciation of diversity.

Sincerely,
Gina Oboler

Files

FaceOffProsandConsofGALA Nov 12 1991.jpg

Collection

Citation

John Ronning, Gina Oboler , “"Face Off: Pros and Cons of GALA," November 12, 1991 ,” Digital History at Ursinus, accessed September 25, 2020, http://omeka.ursinus.edu/items/show/310.