I wish I had something more meaningful to say to you than I do, but after four rather verbose drafts, I have decided to make this short and to the point. The striking aloneness in your letter saddens me. I deeply regret that a woman at Mount Holyoke could find herself in your position. But I am not surprised: I have experienced similar feelings.
Although it may not be apparent to you, your letter has generated responses: some pitying, some frustrated, some angry, mainly sad. However, I doubt that I have a representative impression of student reactions: there may well be unfavorable letters in Choragos this week. I am writing to reinforce the positive, perhaps unpublished, and supportive attitudes some women here have towards lesbianism. With regard to your closing statement, I would rather assert that we are the only school in the Valley which does not in some way publicly acknowledge that women can and do love each other. I hope you have become aware of this difference in the past week. I hope the rest of us have become aware of what your letter says about Mount Holyoke as a women's community.
"...the Lesbian is first of all a person; secondly, a woman; and only thirdly, a lesbian. That the third often becomes first is because of societal pressure." (from Martin and Lyon, Lesbian Woman, p. 307).
It saddens us that, at a women's college, a woman can be lonely for other women, and feel that she can neither be open with her friends nor expect support from them. Whether courage or desperation led "Astronomer" to speak out, we thank her for breaking a long and awkward silence. As a group of diverse women, both gay and straight, our primary concern is that this expression of support will help engender an atmosphere of communication, understanding and acceptance.
What particularly disturbs us is that the fear of expressing these important personal feelings is reinforced and perpetuated by the pressure to conform and the numbing stasis on this campus.
Mount Holyoke supposedly attempts to create and encourage diversity and stimulate expression; yet it has succeeded in effectively stifling at least one woman's freedom to express herself. We may experience human universals through literature, but we neglect each other in life. How often have we sat around a dinner table and discussed the length of our papers but not their content. Instead of exploring our relationships with each other, how often do we consume our conversations with weekend escape plans and self-acclaiming anecdotes about boyfriends. The family, yet its superficiality is not only insulting but destructive to the growth and expression of our separate identities. Rather than use the warmth and friendliness of each other as steps toward sharing our interests and ideas, we take refuge behind our smiles and avoid dealing with other on any level other than a surface one.
For over three years we have been at this school, and the issue of lesbianism has been suppressed and ignored. We contend that this is due to our inability to deal openly with our own feelings and those of others. And we condemn the so-called community which has inhibited individual expression of values which are different, whether political, religious, moral, or sexual.