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"Writing in Good Taste," November 19, 1991

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"Writing in Good Taste," November 19, 1991


John Ronning's letter on GALA


Ellen R. Sylvester, the Assistant Opinions Editor, argues that Ronning's letter was harmful and stereotyped the homosexual populaiton.


Ellen R. Sylvester


The Grizzly


Ursinus College


November 19, 1991

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As Americans, we are guranteed the freedom of speech by the First Amendment of the Constitution. This amendment does not, however, gurantee that what we write will be of good opinion or in good taste. In the last issue of The Grizzly, two faculty letters expressed views concerning the recently founded Ursinus chapter of GALA. Generally, I feel (as I believe a majority of the students at Ursinus feel) that students look to the faculty not only as experienced teachers of selected subject matter, but also human beings with a greater understanding of life. Therefore, it would seem that a faculty letter regarding GALA would give substantial reasoning for why GALA should or should not exist at Ursinus in the context of the school rather than based on personal judgement.

While I feel that everyone has the right to express their opinion, I believe that Mr. Ronning's letter in the last issue of the paper did not even attempt to relate GALA to the context of the school or to the need it would provide a certain poriton of the student body. Instead, Mr. Ronning's article attempted to explain the reasoning behind why he felt "homosexualitiy is an unhealthy perversion" rather than why he felt the GALA organization should not exist. For a man of science, surprisingly, Ronning's article lacked scientific reasoning and proof. Ronning created a stereotype in which he explicitly suggested the sexual practices of the entire homosexual population. Does he feel the sexual practices of the entire heterosexual population are "normal" in comparison? To prove this assumption false, one has merely to turn on the news or glance at a newspaper to hear of the strange (may I even suggest perverse) practices of a percentage of the hetersexual population. As a heterosexual person, I would not like to be placed in a stereotype with many of the heterosexual people that frequent singles bars and clubs across the country. I think it is just as ridiculous to assume that all homosexuals participate in the practices that Ronning offers as "regular features of gay culture." Stereotyping all homosexuals as perverse, raging sex fiends allows those that Mr. Ronning considers "normal, healthy people" to continue to debase the homosexual population and deny the validity of their existence. To accept homosexuals as people who are capable of monogamous, loving relationships would mean admitting that they are similar to "normal, healthy" heterosexuals.

In consideration of Mr. Ronning's feelings regarding the safety of homosexual actions, many diseases that were known originally to have been spread throughout the homosexual population are now prevalent among hetersexual populations. With the recent announcement of Magic Johnson's contaction of the AIDS virus, many people were awakened to the fact that AIDS does not discriminate, and to the fact that even heterosexual practices can lead to contraction of the diesease. It is impossible to question the safety of homosexual practices without quesitoning the practice of all sexual human beings.

As for Ursinus in regard to the GALA, no one has to like the organization, people mrely have to accept it and the needs of the students it is serving. GALA has had some complications surrounding its beginning on campus, but these complications arise in any college organization. GALA has been approved by the Student Activites Committee (SAC) and does plan to provide activities such as speakers, programs, and awareness evetns. Dr. Oboler's letter published in last week's Grizzly stated that SAC is "debating as to whether the campus will beneift from the organization." Would an organization take the trouble to approach SAC with a proposed constitution if it was not serious in its intentions? In what other campus clubs are people putting their lifestyle on the line in order to gain campus recognition as a legitimate organization? Letters like Mr. Ronning's (who sadly represents a significant portion of the country's population) should remind us that the time has come to accept people who are different from ourselves. Although some of society has changed its opinion to the point of tolerating homosexuality, many others are still classified as "homophobes." Perhaps it is wrong to belive that all unaware and uncomfortable people suffer from "homophobia." In that case, the services GALA plans to provide through programs and speakers should help to educate the portion of the campus population that is unfamiliar with or uncomfortable with homosexuality. As Dr. Oboler stated in her letter last week, "I believe that all students will benefit from any organization that makes efforts towards increasing appreciation of diversity."

The preamble of the Constitution gives all United States citizens the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The time has come for these rights to extend beyond hetersexual people to include all people. As human beings, the time has come to accept that other people have needs which differ from our own, and that we may possibly benefit from the views and opinions of others. Mr. Ronning's opinion served the college community well; it made others strengthen and reevaluate their own opinions concerning the GALA organization. Unfortunately, I don't believe society will move in a positive direction if people continue to hold opinions similar to Mr. Ronning.


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Ellen R. Sylvester , “"Writing in Good Taste," November 19, 1991,” Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus, accessed February 7, 2023,