I'm writing to thank Lucile Thompson Cruickshank for her letter in which she huffed that the Quarterly had made her "embarrassed to admit" that she is an alumna and had "cheapened" itself by mentioning the existence of a support network for lesbian alumnae. Having somehow missed the original mention, I'd otherwise never have known about it. Continuing emotional support from "uncommon" gay and straight women (and "uncommon men" like my sculpture professor Leonard DeLonga) that I came to know at Mount Holyoke is one thing that we gay people very much need these days. Anyone who knows anything at all about the circumstances of gay people's daily lives understands why we need the support network. What I will never understand is why anyone would choose to heap such unkindness on top of the legal oppression gay women already face.
Today my life partner and I learned we would not be able to afford a train trip we had been planning because, although we've been together for nearly ten years, we don't qualify for the "family plan" rates. Last year when I was rushed to a hospital emergency room, my partner wasn't allowed to see me because she wasn't "family." As a self-employed (or unemployed!) musician, my job doesn't provide health insurance; I'd be covered by my partner's office plan if we were married. Though some churches will perform marriage ceremonies for gay people, these are not recognized as valid by Blue Cross or by Amtrak or by the U.S. government - which is why one friend from Sweden is currently in danger of deportation. She would have been married to her American lover 5 years ago and a naturalized citizen today if gay people had equal rights to thus protect those we love best. But we don't.
I don't want to suggest that we gay alumnae have miserable lives. I'd bet that, like me, most are basically happy and that many of the worries we have are the same as those of straight alumnae: How will we pay our taxes? Why do our kids (stepkids in my case) listen to such awful music? Why don't Girl Scout cookies taste as good as they used to? But at the same time, all sorts of gay-specific little humiliations and life-threatening big problems are constant occurrences in our lives. It helps to have others like oneself with whom to talk. I do hope the intolerance in Ms. Cruickshank's letter came from thoughtless ignorance of my points rather than from deliberate mean-spiritedness.
Pam Brandt '69
New York, New York
Thank you for your continuing staunch support of lesbian alumnae. The network is alive, growing, and strong. We have seventy-one members from the Class of '36 to the Class of '90. These women are excited and enthusiastic about the network - one member of the Class of '56 said this is the first connection with Mount Holyoke she has had since graduation and spoke of the College with a pride she never had before. She is only one of dozens who have had their faith restored by the network.
Alumnae wishing to be part of the network are invited to write me. I will send periodic newsletters and a copy of the listing of all who have responded. To assure confidentiality, the list will be sent only to those who are listed themselves. Please send a stamped, self-addressed #10 envelope.
Donna Albino '83
32 Elm St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
The conversation set off by the ad for a lesbian network is distressing. It seems to me that there are two issues here.
First, I agree wholeheartedly that every person deserves respect and compassion, though I don't see how it is possible to treat everyone with real love without having first been crucified with Christ and born again, so that His love lives in you. Even then, our own old sins often get in the way of true forgiveness and care for others.
The other issue is sin. God will not be mocked, and there is a judgment day for each of us. Homosexuality is quite clearly described in Romans 1:18-32 as unnatural behavior, involving worship of self rather than God. There are a number of organizations devoted to helping to free homosexuals from this trap. Spatula Ministries, under Barbara Johnson, at PO Box 444, LaHabre, CA 90631, is one to which the family of the homosexual can turn for help. Donald Baker's Moody Press book, Beyond Rejection, is full of hope for the actual victim of homosexuality and it lists a number of helpful resources.
In conclusion, let us not, in professing to be wise, become fools, as we strain to follow fads, while denying guidelines which our loving heavenly Father has laid out for us, in order to protect us and to save us from tragedy.
Cynthia Taylor Curtis '60