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Blacks and Gays



To The Editors of The Crimson:

In his April 24 letter to The Crimson, Karl W. Lampley '93 expresses the painful ignorance of gay and lesbian oppression that has plagued this nation and this august institution for decades. He is correct in saying that the discrimination against gay and lesbian recruits in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and the rest of the military is similar to the discrimination against Blacks that existed in those same institutions for years. He missed the brass ring, however, when he says that the similarity goes no further.

Black Americans do not have a monopoly on the oppressed minority bandwagon. Native Americans, women, non-European immigrants and gay and lesbian people as well as Blacks have suffered because they were seen as different and somehow inferior to the paradigmatic "white man."

Many American historical documents have references to the systematic ferreting out and punishment of people who did not fit into the standard sexual mold. As Black Americans were seen to be somehow "subhuman," so were people who were thought to be "sexually deviant."

The suffering of the people we now call gay and lesbian is no less pronounced in this country because, by and large, lesbians and gay men do not speak up. Despite a vocal, privileged and empowered minority of lesbians and gay men in status positions, most lesbians and gay men choose to hide their sexual preference. They do so because they feel that, if they "come out of the closet," they will suffer institutional and personal attacks more than they already do.

Also, Lampley's position that Blacks have already secured an amount of social security, and so should not "band together to fight discrimination" of other people is simply dispicable. Does Lampley not remember Martin Luther King, Jr.'s exhortation that "injustice anywhere a threat to justice everywhere?" Matthew M. Shakespeare   Harvard Divinity School '90

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