Whose Choice?

(as a former columnist for you, I am hoping for a new piece just this once) Given what we curently know about human sexuality, Reverend James (April 1 article) and his religious zealots who seek

(as a former columnist for you, I am hoping for a new piece just this once)

Given what we curently know about human sexuality, Reverend James (April 1 article) and his religious zealots who seek to use the church to manipulate the state and the constitution are simply wrong – not about their actions, rallies, or press releases but in their underlying basic assumption that homosexuality is a choice.

While some may choose to sublimate and hide this biological predisposition/tendency/trait – most cannot. In Rev. James’ day, many homosexual men attemtpted to do just that, living “straight” lives to please their families and society. Many ended up in joyless shams of marriage and had terrible relationships with themselves, their family, and others. How does this help society or strengthen the institution of marriage? Some killed themselves, but a lucky few, in the last decade, have “come out” after decades of marriage with grown children and found happiness – to express and live the way they have felt since birth.

Sadly, the reverend and his ilk refute any of the new studies that illustrate that there is a biological component to sexuality (as well as African traditions and folklore that clearly show mothers “know” before their child can even walk). Otherwise their entire argument that gay rights are not about civil rights falls apart. While gayness, unlike skin color, can sometimes be hidden, why should it have to be? At what cost to the individual, the community and society? Why is skin bleaching still a major cosmetic industry? Being allowed to be happy with who you are and how you were born and being allowed to express that without fear or discrimination seems the goal of both movements.

Many gay youth have expressed the thought that they would change if they could to avoid the persecution, harrassment, and hate – to the point of seeing suicide as the only way out. This conversion has never actually been done, not even in the relgious re-education camps that claim to help homosexuals reorient but simply end up being cruising opportunities to meet others. All they do is teach the art of repressive “passing” – something relevant to both cultures.

I challenge the reverend to actually take a class (something he clearly has not done since he has no degrees yet claims to be a professor here at Temple) on human sexuality instead of preaching his outdated religious oppression in the classroom and headlines in our names. While he is certainly allowed to profess his 1950’s view of reality, he should do so as a preacher, not a professor. The long road to getting a PhD requires a willingness to learn, something he has clearly shown he can not, will not, do.

Our goal, as students, scholars, and teachers should be to help create happy healthy humans – not forcing others to act against their nature nor discriminate against them for innate traits and we should hire (and fire) accordingly. Non-professor James gives Temple a black eye when he fails to make clear that he is neither educated nor a representative of Temple’s diversity plans. I urge him to follow Part I, Article I of the Faculty Handbook, “When (college and university
teachers) speak or write as citizens, they… should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all
times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for
the institution.”

Do not speak for us. Do not attempt to use our good name to further your crusade. And do not try to sway others with your false credentials built upon our education. Spew your oppressive hate as a preacher, not as a Temple teacher.

Glenn Reitz
PhD student, African American Studies

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