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Student journal triggers campus wide debate on homosexuality

By Jay Rogers
Published February 1, 1992

How 56 pages unleashed a controversy at Harvard

CAMBRIDGE, MA (FR) – Ever since November 12, Harvard University’s monolithic stance on homosexuality has begun to crumble. On that date, Peninsula, a two-year-old conservative student journal, released a 56 page exhaustive volume containing its staff’s year long research project on homosexual politics.

The initial response from the academic community was to label Peninsula’s findings as “hate-speech.” Practically every campus newspaper entered into the debate with full abandon. In the few short weeks toward the end of the semester, scores of articles were printed in campus newspapers dealing with the November issue of Peninsula, which featured a pink triangle (the symbol of pro-homosexual ideology) exploding on the front cover. The pink triangle was originally used by the Nazis to identify homosexual men who were imprisoned in Germany from 1937-1945. It took on a new meaning after World War II, however, as a symbol of oppression, a symbol of solidarity with those physically attacked for their homosexuality.

Despite the inflammatory cover, Peninsula’s founding editor, Roger Landry denies the allegations of hate-speech. “Those charges are absolutely ridiculous,” said Landry. “There is absolutely no hate in the issue, but rather care and compassion for those experiencing same-sex sexual attractions. … By depicting the pink triangle in pieces,” explained Landry, “we symbolize what we would like to do with this issue of Peninsula. We hope to confound, and, ultimately, discard the philosophies which account for both the pink triangle’s original and current meanings – to move away from an atmosphere of hateful persecution on the one hand, and of injurious ideology on the other.”

“Before our issue came out, Harvard was monolithic about homosexuality. Any person feeling attractions to members of the same sex were given but one option – to come out and admit you were homosexual and accept it as a lifestyle. Now there is a dialogue going on.”

The controversy raged on through the Fall semester and into January. Everyone from the Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA), to the Dean of students, Archibald C. Epps III, condemned Peninsula at a November 15 rally.

Harvard’s Professor of Christian Morals admits to being homosexual

The most surprising announcement at the rally came from the Plummer Professor for Christian Morals and minister of Harvard’s Memorial Church, Rev. Peter Gomes, who publicly announced for the first time that he is a practicing homosexual. Professor Gomes has been named by Time magazine as one of the top ten most respected ministers in the country, and has been a speaker at the last three Presidential inaugurations.

In a Harvard Crimson article (Nov. 18, 1991), after conceding that the November issue of Peninsula was “well-written,” and showed both a “dash of compassion and a hint of counselling,” Gomes stated:

“Neither I nor any other Christian who is gay need accept any longer the definition of ourselves as outside the embrace of the sacraments or ministry of the Church. Our sexual identity notwithstanding, we with our fellow believers are all a part of the fallen human race, all live in the light of the sacrifice of Christ, all share in the same and uncorrupted creation in the image of God, and all participate in the means of Grace and the hope of glory. And we do so, just as we are; fallen and redeemed; all of us.”

Gomes’ announcement stirred further controversy from across campus and across the nation. Harvard undergraduate Sumner Anderson wrote in a Crimson editorial (Nov. 20, 1991): “As a Christian and as a member of Memorial Church, this was one of the most disturbing events in my four years at Harvard…. (Gomes) cited his position as the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals as authority to declare that homosexual behavior is ‘reconcilable’ with Christianity. … unless he openly admits homosexual behavior to be sinful, I feel compelled to call for his immediate resignation as minister of Memorial Church.”

Landry offered this assessment of the magnitude of the controversy: “It is about our bucking political correctness’ most sacred cow: the sexual revolution. But on a much deeper level, our issue is the first in-depth response we know of (collegiate or otherwise) to the inroads that the pro-homosexuality movement has been making into public policy over the past couple of decades.”

The Peninsula staff is a small group of students at Harvard who hold to a variety of conservative and Christian ideologies in confronting issues such as abortion, “politically correct” speech, multi-culturalism, and pro-homosexual politics.

“We are limited by resources and our small size,” says Landry. “Liberal groups have unlimited resources, such as the daily newspaper (the Harvard Crimson) and the capitulation of the school administration toward the left. But the fact that we are labelled as ‘conservative’ actually helps us get across our point of view. The point of view is so unique that it has made us more salient to many people.”

Landry points to the rejection of the politically correct agenda by Harvard as evidence of Peninsula’s success. “P.C. has already been thrown out the windows by most Northeast schools. We were hit by P.C. before everyone else. Among students here, people are so sick and tired of the arguments. After a few issues of Peninsula and the debate in the national press, most people have admitted that the issue is ridiculous. Eventually P.C. will lose its steam everywhere.”

“Some people have actually come to us and have said: ‘I changed my position on abortion’ or ‘I changed my mind about the National Organization for Women.’ There have already been some short term changes, but we are looking at the long term. When people get out of here (graduate) hopefully they will bring these points of view with them.”

The Peninsula issue on homosexuality is divided into sections which deal systematically with (1) the misinformation of pro-homosexuality propaganda; (2) the causes and consequences of homosexual behavior; and (3) the alternatives to dealing with same-sex sexual attractions that the pro-homosexuality movement never mentions.

If you want to obtain a copy of the Peninsula issue on homosexuality, you may do so by writing: Peninsula, P.O. Box 2180, Cambridge, MA 02238.


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