Alumnae Quarterly, Summer 1988

Diversity, Love, or Sin

I was saddened to read in the spring Quarterly the letters of Mount Holyoke graduates, calling lesbians "sinners." Is it so radiantly clear to everyone what a morally good life is?

I have lesbian friends, whose service to social causes, whose kindness and love for human beings, especially those in need, is never ending.

I also know wealthy women (some of whose husbands reputedly acquired their wealth in shady ways), who look down on poorer women as inferior - morally, too, I suppose.

I submit that few of us have the courage to look deep within our hearts to find the follies, the sins, the perversities - should we call them - that lurk there. Let us, instead, rejoice for the good that human beings do accomplish. I for one am glad that Mount Holyoke does have the courage and compassion to treat lesbians like the human beings they are. It would be dreadful to think that our college discouraged them in any way from becoming the best humans they can be.

Maybe we should next turn our attention to wondering what to do about the outwardly moral, privately brutal, heterosexuals, who behave in ways, I am told, that give the word & quot;perversity" a bad name.

Grace Luhrsen Davis '35
Hockessin, Delaware

One of the things I cherish most about Mount Holyoke is that it is a place where it is comfortable to be yourself. Differences and diversity are actively encouraged by the administration, and most student prize the diversity they encounter in community living, and work toward a fuller understanding of each other. Heterosexual and lesbian women living together is one facet of our diversity.

Dean Murphy demonstrated great courage and insight by vocalizing the long overdue fact that "the campus community stands to learn much and benefit greatly because lesbians are becoming more vocal and outspoken." She also expressed the opinion of a large number of students, heterosexual and lesbian alike. Although the administration and a huge percentage of the student body are dedicated to making Mount Holyoke an equitable as well as a diverse community, the campus is not at this time free of all forms of oppression and discrimination, whether they are based on race, class, religion, culture, or sexuality.

When I ran for president of the Student Government Association (SGA), I wrote in my statement of interest that "Mount Holyoke should be an environment where the chance to be different, to be oneself, and to express the difference is not only possible but is encouraged." Since my election, the SGA executive board has discussed the long-term goals for next year, and we have dedicated ourselves to combatting actively all forms of oppression on this campus. Dean Murphy's statement supports the views and opinions of the SGA executive board as well as a large cross section of the student body.

Leslie Lippi '89
SGA President, '88-89

I am "Speaking Up" in response to the editor's religious rebuttal to the lesbian controversy which appeared in the spring Quarterly. Were the three alumnae respondents from New Hampshire judging people or addressing an issue of immoral behavior?

In the editor's rebuttal, in apparent support of lesbianism, the apostle Paul is quoted as saying that Christians are "all members of one another." What Paul actually said was, "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body." (Ephesians 4:25) Let us have the courage to follow the complete quote and speak out against what is immoral and unnatural.

Georgia Gammie Wiester '62
Buellton, California

During the time of investment for the future of Mount Holyoke, I am writing to express my concern that the investments further the traditions of Mary Lyon and not the promotion of reprobate minds. Throughout history, when a nation accepts homosexuality as a normal way of life, God has destroyed that civilization.

Hope exists to receive freedom from homosexuality by repenting and trusting in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for cleansing all sins. The Bible states (I Corinthians 6:9-11) that if we are washed, sanctified, and justified through faith in Christ Jesus, those of us who were sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, or swindlers will have eternal life with God. Jesus Christ is the only one in whom there is the power to have victory over the destructiveness of such perversions, and who gives meaning and significance to life. While homosexual people are to be loved and accepted, the truth that the act of homosexuality is a sin must be understood for Mount Holyoke to continue to have a positive impact in our world.

Lisa Hebb '81
Rockford, Illinois

I am sad to read of the hateful and judgmental intolerance of some of our alumnae.

My senior year I transferred to Wesleyan and lived in the Feminist House. Some of the residents were lesbian; most were not. All were intelligent, inquiring, concerned, and loving people. There was no judgment, and in that environment I learned a lot about myself. I learned that it is natural to feel affection for women, and that confusion comes when one must deny what is true. I experienced the freedom to be who I am.

Kathryn Moody Benjamin '82
Malden, Massachusetts

I have been following with interest the discussion about lesbianism at Mount Holyoke in recent issues of the Quarterly. I applaud Mount Holyoke for taking steps to open dialogue about lesbianism and for helping to educate students about their sexual differences.

Ann E. Fry '85
Everett, Massachusetts

I was dismayed and disgusted by the antilesbian letters in the spring Quarterly.

My sister is a lesbian, so this issue hits close to home. I fail to understand why her sexual orientation should concern anyone other than herself. What matters is that she is a funny, smart, and caring person who works with the mentally ill and will begin a master's in social work in the fall. The fact that she shares her life with another funny, smart, and caring woman really isn't anyone's business.

The intolerance and lack of understanding shown by the writers of those letters terrifies me. What if my sister becomes the target of some twisted bigot? Wouldn't that be far more perverted than the strong relationship she shares with her lover?

Lisa Hawley Hiley '83
Belmont, Massachusetts

What does our holy God think about homosexuality? In our language we have the word "sodomy." I will point out the reference in Genesis 19:5-13 and the incident in Judges 19:22-30. God brought judgment upon the evil men involved.

Then in Leviticus 18:22 God gives this definitive command: "Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination." See also verse 29 and Leviticus 20:13. Someone might say that that was way back in Old Testament times, and that things are different now. Does God change? Malachi 3:6 says, "For I am the Lord, I change not..." See also Hebrews 13:8 and James 1:17. God repeats commands against the sin of sexual perversion. In Romans 1:24, 26, and 28 we see how God condemns such actions. Verse 26 specifically mentions women. May what God tells us inspire us to assess carefully the subject from His point of view and then to accept His Word.

Esther Van Allen Selden '27
Ludlow, Massachusetts

I experienced a particularly sad moment when I read in the spring issue the letters from the three New Hampshire alumnae. I had to surrender at last a notion I've cherished since my Mount Holyoke days, a notion that has been severely embattled by similar letters to the Quarterly over the past year: the notion that education opens closed minds. Apparently it doesn't, any more than Christianity encourages its adherents to refrain from judging their sisters.

Caroline Foty '80
Rockville, Maryland

Lesbianism is pathetic and unnatural. It existed when I was in college, and presumably in my mother's day, but at least it was private.

Margaret aus dem Bruch Alin '35
Wayne, Pennsylvania

Betty Stark Brookhiser's perverse notions on lesbianism (spring Quarterly) are unequivocally indicative of the decaying moral thinking of this society. It is a sad state of affairs when such hateful views are expressed under the guise of "saving" the future generations. An attack on the systems of domination, which perpetuate poverty, violence against women, and the exploitation of laborers, would much better help to "save" my generation's moral fibre.

Marge Salvodon '89
South Hadley, Massachusetts

Editor's Note: We have aimed to include at least a portion of every letter on this subject received before our deadline, Because we have covered such a broad range of viewpoints in the past two years, our editorial judgment is to publish no further letters on the matter. Letters to the Alumnae Office or the Alumnae Association board are of course always welcome.

Return to the Alumnae Quarterly Letters Index

© Mount Holyoke Lyon's Pride
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software