Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus

"More Response to Ronning Letter," November 26, 1991

Dublin Core


"More Response to Ronning Letter," November 26, 1991


Studnets, faculty and staff continue to respond to John Ronning's letter.


Students, faculty and staff offer various opinions regarding Ronning's controversial letter on GALA.


Joyce T. Lionarons, Andrew Economopolous, Kathy Gretzenburg, Shawn Glancy


The Grizzly


Ursinus College


November 26, 1991

Text Item Type Metadata


Editor's note: This letter was submitted last week, but was lost in the mail. We apologize for the delay in printing.

To the Editor:

Having read John Ronning's letter to the Grizzly this week, I am not certain which appalls me more: the twisted tissue of misinformation, logical fallacy, and pornographic fantasy that constitutes his letter, or the fact that it was written by an Ursinus instructor, a man who, one would hope, should be dedicated to educating our students in a responsible and intellectually rigorous fashion. Unfortuantely, there is nothing responsible about Mr. Ronning's letter.

Certainly Mr. Ronning is entitled to hold and even publish his opinions on GALA, homosexuality, and whatever else he wishes to comment on. To deny him that right would be a breach of our hard-won and much-abused academic freedom. But when individual opinion is misrepresented as fact, more than academic freedom is at stake; instead questions of academic accountability and intellectual rigor come to the fore. And in fact, both Mr. Ronning's tacit assumptions and his stated conclusions about gayness and gay sexual practices fly in the face of virtually all the reputable, scholarly research concerning homosexuality that has been done in biology, psychology, scoiology, and yes, even religious studies in the past few decades. The ignorance his letter reveals would be shocking in a student; in an educator it is little less than criminal.

While I generally refrain from advising my colleagues on reading for personal and academic development, perhaps Mr. Ronning would be interested in doing the elementary research on homosexuality that I know my students in GALA have already done. Our library has a dozen or so titles; he could start in the reference section with Garland Press' new compendium, The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality.

In conclusion, I submit that Mr. Ronning's letter is the best possible argument for the existence of GALA on the Ursinus campus, for it displays both the ignorance GALA wishes to remedy and the homophobia GALA must combat.

Joyce T. Lionarons
English Department


Dear Editor,

The recent letters to the editor concerning GALA has presented two opposing views. One was a graphic discussion of homosexual behavior, the other celebrated the homosexual lifestyle. While the graphic detail appeared to be highlighting the Mapplethorpe "artistic" photos, the other reflected a heart-felt family experience. These two views approach the homosexual lifestyle from opposite positions; one celebrating it; one condemning it.

After reading both articles I noticed a difference in the presuppositions of the writers. It appeared to me that one assumes that homosexuality is abnormal while the other assumes that it is normal. Is the homosexual lifestyle normal? One writer cites a statistic that indicates that 10% of the population is gay, a statistic appearing to support the normality of the lifestyle. However, a recent study in the Science Magazine showed that only 3.6% of men had "frequent" or "occasional" sexual contact with another man. Obviously, there are conflicting statistics on the prevalnce of the lifestyle. Even if we could reach a concensus on the statistic, should numbers be the basis of our support for a lifestyle?

Another basis for evaluating the normality of a lifestyle could be questioning whether it is a result of a biological or innate characteristic. If it is, then homosexuality can be grouped with race, gender, or ethnic origin. If not, it would be inappropriate to compare the discrimination against a lifestyle with the discrimination against an innate characteristic. Would you compare the discrimination against polygamy with that of racial discrimination? I am unaware of any scientific study demonstrating a hormonal or chemical difference between homosexuals and hetersexuals, and there are clearly no anatomical differences.

If the behavior is not the result of biological differneces, than the issue of normality becomes more complex. What makes the issues of normality complex is that if the homosexual lifestyle is not biological, but environmental, my decision would have to be based on my own judgement of what is normal or abnormal behavior. There are studies indicating that the homosexual lifestyle is laregly a result of environmental factors. If it is a learned behavior, should we automatically support and endorse the lifestyle? There are many outcomes from environemental causes that are difficult to support or call normal such as racial discrimination. On the other hand there are outcomes that are positive, such as philanthropy.

How then do we determine whether a learned behavior is supported or opposed? Do we hate the decision on what is acceptable to society or in the jargon of the day, "politically correct?" I hope not for history is filled with politcally correct behavior that has led to persecution and atrocities.

If we cannot rely on societies norms for our decision, where do we turn? As for me, I turn to my Judeo-Christian beliefs. I cannot support, encourage, or celebrate homosexuality. But at the same time I cannot abuse, belittle, or condemn the homosexual. I would encourage anyone who is questioning their sexual behavior to seriously consider the foundation for their decision and the consequenes of their actions.

Andrew Economopoulos
Economics and Business


Dear Editor,

I found Mr. Ronning's letter to the editor (week of November 12) very disturbing. I found the intensity of his hate and rage frightening. I am far from naive but it was also distressing to think that any human being really felt that way. But equally as frightening and distrubing was the fact that he felt comfortable and justified voicing his outrageous opinion.

We need not look very far to see that hatred and bigotry are insidiously seeping intro the realm of tolerable and acceptable. President George Bush used it with his Willie Horton ads. David Duke ran a campaign with bigotry at the core. When Duke spoke of "those welfare individuals who can work but don't" and when he spoke of "crimes committed against Americans" he was not talking about white people assaulting white people or white people on welfare. What is even more frightening than the message of David Duke is that 670,000 Louisianans saw fit to vote for the messenger.

To stereotype any group of indiivudals (as Mr. Ronning did) in such lewd and disgusting terms should be offensive to all of us; regardless of sexual orientation. My hope is that Mr. Ronning's viewpoint is one that is on the "fringe." My fear is that intolerance of our differences (be they cultural, racial or sexual) is finding a safe niche in our society.

Lastly, although I believe in free speech and would defend Mr. Ronning's right to it, I have to question his wisdom and judgement. It is my opinion that those of us that are privileged and fortuante enough to be working with and educating today's young adults have a moral obligation to help open minds; not clamp them shut.

Kathy Gretzenburg
Counseling Dept.


Dear Editor and Ursinus community,

With all due respect, I believe that all of the arguing over the existence of GALA has gone too far. If it goes much further, it may only serve to divide the Ursinus community even more. As a Christian, while I don't agree with what GALA stands for, I believe my Master has called me to "love my neighbor." And let us not forget the admonition that "he who is without sin cast the first stone." I doubt seriously that any of us, Mr. Ronning, myself, etc. are "without sin," so we should try to learn more about GALA and what they are trying to do--gain recognition on a campus that could probably learn more from allowing them to organize and dialogue with the rest of them from bickering and throwing around heated opinions and misinterpreted scripture references. Some of my friends are in GALA, and I feel terrible that they have been subjected to as much heat as has been generated recently. I believe that it is a true test of character to be able to hold on to your own beliefs and also to understand and love those who may disagree with you at the same time. As a member of the heterosexual population, I may not understand why homosexuals feel the way they do, but that doesn't mean that I or anyone else can tell them they can't organize as a potentially vital part of this campus.

Shawn Glancy
Class of 1992
(Addendum to letter on page 9)


More Response to Ronning Letter Nov 26 1991.JPG



Joyce T. Lionarons, Andrew Economopolous, Kathy Gretzenburg, Shawn Glancy , “"More Response to Ronning Letter," November 26, 1991,” Omeka - Digital History at Ursinus, accessed September 26, 2023,