A Lot to Learn
SOME OF PENINSULA'S writers are decent, well-meaning folks. So it took me a very long time before I could get over the shock and anger that came with Peninsula's special double issue on homosexuality.
When I did, I realized that they were not all foaming-at-the-mouth homophobes, hiding behind barely rational rhetoric and wanting ever so badly to "drop all pretenses" and just call for people to get rid of us queers; only some of them fall into that extreme category--writers whose rhetoric borders dangerously close to a call for violence against gays. No, the three members of Peninsula with whom I am familiar (Matthew J. McDonald, Adam Jones and Roger Landry) struck me as devout, well-intentioned young men who see a widespread problem on our campus (homosexuality), and want to correct it.
THESE WRITERS are noble, but mis-guided. I do think it's a bit condescending of my fellow students at Peninsula to tell me that my desires for women are wrong, and should be stopped through "public policy and community standards," simply because these desires do not fit into their neat, biblical conceptions of what constitutes "correct" sex; that is, heterosexual sex used only for the purposes of procreation.
If Peninsula members are secure in their heterosexuality, and understand that my being homosexual is about as reversible as the color of my eyes or my skin, then I do not understand why they are so obsessive about "curbing" acceptance of homosexuality.
I don't feel the need to force anyone who is heterosexual to "change"; I will accept them and try to understand them as they are, and this is how I want them to treat me. I want them to change their attitudes toward my community. Neither homosexuality nor heterosexuality is better than the other. Why can't Peninsula channel their good intentions to the real problems on campus: ignorance and intolerance of minorities?
I feel particularly sad when I think of Peninsula's writers because not too long ago, I thought and felt very much like them. I grew up in a small, narrow-minded, homophobic town, and I was all three when I got to Harvard. (Narrow-mindedness and homophobia are pretty much past me, but I'm still hoping to grow taller.)
I WAS, like everyone else, force-fed heterosexuality; my family, my Catholic church, television, schoolteachers and coaches all told me what the correct definition of sex was, and I followed it zealously. I was a virgin when I got to college, figuring that I would meet the right man and get married, then worry about sex. (That was one of my constant harps--people here at Harvard were too concerned with sex, or too liberal in their assessment of it.)
I was unhappy; the many men I dated were wonderful and attractive, but something was always missing. Deep in my heart I worried that I would never know what it was like to fall deeply in love.
Until I went to my first BGLSA dance, I was such a homophobe (my straight roommate insisted that I go to a dance and at least get to see the community that I spent so much time condemning). That night, I felt my heart flip for the very first time at the sight of a beautiful woman; I got to know the joy of loving someone and being "in love" with that person all at the same time. I had never felt that way about any of the men I dated.
I am a homosexual by nature, but an "out, loud and proud" dyke by choice. My being attracted to and sleeping with women has never hurt anyone, in any way, except for making the homophobes on campus slightly uncomfortable. People tend to get nervous when they are faced with differences, especially differences that make them re-evaluate their systems of morality.
I WOULD ASK members of Peninsula to do even more reading and research, and to come to a few BGLSA events with an open mind to understanding what it is like to be gay in a homophobic world. I don't want "special" rights; I want civil rights.
I don't want to be thrown in jail in Texas someday for being "caught in bed" with my lover (I'd love to say "wife," but I can't even get married in most states). I want to enjoy the freedom to walk down the street holding hands with my girlfriend. I am not a "deviate" or a "pervert"; I want to be treated with respect and understanding of my difference, not as some schoolgirl who needs Peninsula's help to understand my moral failings.
Peninsula's efforts may be well-intentioned, but they are based upon false assumptions about homosexuality. When an angry and scared homophobe uses Peninsula faulty reasoning to justify beating up me or one of my gay friends, I want Peninsula to know they are partially responsible, that they're going to have blood on their hands for spreading lies.
Homosexuality is not bad, either for individuals or for society; it's just different. It's sad to think of the immeasurable harm that these well-meaning colleagues are inflicting upon our bi, gay and lesbian community. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Sandy Cavazos '92 is Co-chair of the Harvard-Radcliffe Bisexual Gay Lesbian Students Association.