WE SALUTE the spiritual, social, intellectual, and political accomplishments of 2005 Emory Medal winner Charles Haynes 71C 85G (Autumn 2005). Congratulations to Emory Magazine for the excellent coverage of this outstanding individual’s courage, career, and life partnership. Likewise, we celebrate the heart-warming story of Walter A. Nelson-Rees 52C, (Letters, Winter 2006). If this brave man’s enduring determination to live honestly and to fight social intolerance and political injustice has been less visible than Mr. Haynes’, his quest is no less worthy of note.
Both Nelson-Rees and Haynes are members of one of Emory’s historically silent, but significant, minorities: students, faculty, staff, and alumni who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Coverage of these men is but one indication that the university’s closet doors have been blown off the hinges forever. Over the past dozen years, Emory has not merely come to terms with past mistakes, outmoded stereotypes, and misinterpretations of precedent and scripture, it has joined the ranks of the most progressive institutions by supporting, nurturing, promoting, and reaching out to those of us who live our differentness openly and who not only defend but attempt to follow universal ideals of fairness, rigorous scholarship, the untrammeled quest for excellence, and the principle of love and respect for one another.
Elliott Mackle 77G
Sharon C. Semmens 80C 80G
Emory GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni)
THANKS SO MUCH for the fine piece on Charles Haynes—a sign of how much times have changed. When I was a kid, most people could barely talk about the subject of gays! I am proud of my alma mater’s alumni magazine for its willingness to stand up for social
progress, . . .
This gives me a good excuse to plug the achievements of two members of my class who have made significant contributions to the scholarly study of gay history. They are Robert Aldrich, a professor of history at the University of Sydney, who is the prolific author of numerous books such as Who’s Who in Gay and Lesbian History and Colonialism and Homosexuality, as well as scholarly books on non-gay subjects; and David Carter of New York City, author of the 2005 book Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution.
Because I live three thousand miles away, I don’t know if the Emory bookstore has stocked Robert’s and David’s books. But I certainly hope it has—and on the bookshelf marked “Emory Authors”! Not only are these excellent books, but their existence should remind today’s generation of Emory gay and lesbian students that they aren’t alone, historically speaking; they have ancestors who left a heritage worth fighting for.
Fighting for? Yes, because the battle is far from won. . . .
Keay Davidson 75C
San Francisco, California
I AM ONE who not only appreciates the education I received at Emory College but who, moreover, has come to view it with the passing years as not merely an education of facts but rather an entry in the users manual for life. It is with this in mind that I wish to respond to the letter of Winston McCuen 96G 99G (Winter 2006) who, in turn, writes to express his disdain for the profile of Charles Haynes 71C 85G.
Though I worship and serve the same Christ with whom McCuen appears to identify, I interpret Christ’s teachings in a vastly different way. The Christ, were he not also the path to Christian redemption and the Son of God, would nonetheless still be known and recognized two thousand years later as the greatest teacher and example of two of the greatest human aspirations: love and tolerance for others. Oh, but how we need those today.
From my manual for life I have learned to accept and tolerate those whose inherent, God-given qualities and features are different than mine. Homosexuality is but one of these, and for some of the finest people I know, it is just that, a God-given quality. In a world of strife stirred endlessly by intolerance and hatred, can we expect to better our lot without beginning within ourselves?
Donald H. Arnold 75C 79M
AS A PROUD alumnus of Emory University, an institution that taught me to think critically, I was saddened to read the letters by Winston McCuen and John R. Pinson. What did they miss as they passed their days at Emory?
Obviously, idolatry of the Bible and/or fundamentalist Christianity overpower any study of science or liberal arts.
Homophobia is rampant in this country, but I had always thought it was more or less limited to the uninformed or uneducated. I am obviously mistaken.
Joseph W. Adams 54C 56T
Johnson City, Tennessee
HAVING PUBLISHED the letters from Winston McCuen and John R. Pinson III, you may now stamp “Paid in Full” on any further communications from professional Christianists such as these two. . . . Every institution of higher learning . . . has a certain number of graduates who bemoan the fact that Alma Mater is not the incarnation of their skewed beliefs and vulgar and self-righteous sentiments. They resent the fact that when they look at their college they do not see their own image. These are not people Emory can be proud of, however, and it is surely a misguided sense of integrity and even-handedness that gives space and printers’ ink to their whining. The kindest thing for both them and the rest of your readers is to ignore them. That doesn’t mean that they will go away, because they won’t. But at least you will not be inflicting their meanness on the rest of us.
I’m not an alumnus, but I taught at Emory from 1965 to 2000 and have its interests at heart.
David H. Hesla
I WANT YOU to know how much my entire family enjoys the Emory Magazine. My wife and both of my daughters have Emory degrees, and I retired as Emeritus Professor of German Studies in 2001 after thirty-eight years on the faculty, twenty of those years spent in the College administration. The magazine provides an exciting record of the University’s amazing strides while at the same time emphasizing, as it should, the community’s commitment to things of the spirit and its abiding sense of humanity. Nothing you have ever printed has more thoroughly embodied these qualities than the piece about Charles Haynes, formerly a student leader of great courage and compassion and now an alumnus whose work on behalf of humankind makes our University justifiably proud of our association with him.
I am deeply dismayed by your decision to print in the following issue the letter criticizing Mr. Haynes in the most primitive and unenlightened language. Certainly the writer of that letter has every right to his opinion, and he has the right to commit that opinion to writing, but the Emory Magazine simply had no business giving those appalling views a public platform. I am deeply ashamed to see such vilification in the magazine that represents the University I served for so long.
I was so very gratified to see Mr. Haynes honored by our University for his exemplary life of service, and thus doubly offended by the magazine’s subsequent decision to print that unfortunate letter.
I FEEL COMPELLED to respond to the gentleman who expressed contempt, disgust and pity for the accomplished gay man who had been profiled in an earlier issue. If a minority is going to be showered with venom by that writer, then I want to stand with that minority. Perhaps he felt reassured to read the letter prior to his which mentioned that homosexuals are still discriminated against in many ways.
I agree with the gentleman that often people believe what they want to believe. The beauty of the scientific method is that one can gradually approach scientific truth. A large body of research in psychology and neurophysiology supports the concept that gender orientation is genetic: it’s not a choice, we are born with it! Why would a Christian torment one of God’s creatures?
The way to dispel homophobia is to create a more generous and kind culture in which people feel valued and loved for who they are and have less need for a scapegoat. I know that will take a while, so in the meantime, I hope we can be civil to people we really cannot change anyway.
For what it’s worth, I am a heterosexual wife and mother, a psychotherapist, a nurse, a Buddhist, and a Methodist. May God bless and guide all those who struggle for acceptance of who they are—by either themselves or others. May they have the serenity and wisdom to refuse to hate the haters but, rather, to enjoy happy, productive lives with whomever they love.
Catherine McGlaun Mendoza 77N
CERTAINLY Mr. McCuen does not represent the majority opinion of Emory alumni regarding Mr. Haynes. . . . When I was a student in Emory College, 1966-1970, Emory was a hotbed for liberal activism, and I would hope that the majority of the students today have the same attitude or at the very least, possess a more open mind than Mr. McCuen does as expressed in his letter to the editor.
Charlsie Farmer Woolley 70C
I READ “A Healer and a Scholar” (Autumn 2005) and thought it was a terrific issue overall. Emory’s forward and inclusive thinking makes me proud to be an alumnus. To say that such a story illustrates a view contrary to Christian principles is ludicrous. I only wish our religious leaders would be as welcoming to all Christians regardless of sexuality instead of serving religion cafeteria-style.
Maura Hart 87C
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
In Harm’s Way
THANK YOU, thank you , thank you for Mary J. Loftus’ article, “In Harm’s Way: Alumni Dispatches from Iraq and Afghanistan” (Winter 2006). It is so nice to read first-person accounts from some of our country’s heroes who could have been sitting next to many of us in class. Thank you for the collection of perspectives on the war from the only people (i.e. the soldiers involved) truly qualified to give them.
Sara Allum Sniezek 93C 94G
CONGRATULATIONS on a great piece in the magazine! You captured beautifully what makes me so proud to serve in the Armed Forces today: the enthusiasm, commitment, and valor of those magnificent Americans . . . and they just happen to be Emory alumni! Thank you. Thanks also for the “Coda” piece on spouses waiting: another untold piece to the countless stories of sacrifice that people are making in service to our nation.
Chaplain (LTC) Matt Woodbery 80Ox 82C 85T
U.S. Army Garrison
I READ with interest the article on Emory alumni serving in the military in Iraq. I fully agree that this takes an enormous amount of courage and bravery. But I feel that another approach to the subject is appropriate, too. That is: we should not be there in the first place. I think this was best expressed by a distinguished member of the Emory family, Jimmy Carter. He has said that it is "an unnecessary and unjust war . . . based upon lies and misinterpretations." He predicted beforehand that "preventive wars" can have catastrophic effects. The justifications for going to war keep changing, but none of them have held up. We hear constantly from Washington that this is the "war on terror," yet Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or other terrorist attacks on America. (It has now become a hotbed of terrorism, thanks to our destabilizing invasion.) There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a horrible dictator, but there are lots of horrible dictators in the world. If we start trying to remove all of them by force, we will find ourselves fighting about a dozen similar wars, and rebuilding a dozen destroyed countries at a cost of several hundred billion dollars each, and many lives lost. This is out of the question, of course. There must be, therefore, other motivations that prompted this particular disastrous adventure in Iraq. We can’t simply pull out now and leave the country in chaos, both physically and politically. So we are stuck with the problem for years to come. The victims, so far, are thousands of American soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis, millions of U.S. taxpayers—and the moral credibility and image of the United States in the world. Have we already forgotten the fiasco of Vietnam?
Jack Turbiville 57B
Marine Major Sam Carrasco 95C, featured in the latest issue of Emory Magazine (“In Harm’s Way,” Winter 2006), is one of my former undergraduate students in political science and Latin American affairs, and I was a guest at his commission ceremony on campus. Sam is a proud military officer, a leader of troops, and a brave Marine fighting for liberty in Iraq against terrorists and the forces of nihilism and Islamic fascism. As one of his former professors, I salute Major Carrasco for his professional and patriotic service and I wish him and his extended family good luck and my best wishes.
Juan M. del Aguila
Associate Professor of Political Science
Has something you’ve read in Emory Magazine raised your consciousness—or your hackles? Let us know. Write to the editors at Emory Magazine, 1655 N. Decatur Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, via fax at 404.727.7259, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We reserve the right to edit letters for length. The views expressed by letter writers are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the administration of Emory University.