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Gay men deserve dignity and respect

Jason Satterfield's letter, ["Breaking the long chain of intolerance," April 28], explained why intolerance towards gay men and their acts of affection at social activities is no different from racial, ethnic, or sexual discrimination. Threatening the freedom of individuals simply because they are gay should not be permitted at social functions or anywhere else for that matter.

But discrimination against gay men is more than just a civil rights issue. The root of the problem is that some people feel disgusted at the sight of two gay men holding hands or embracing each other tenderly. However, many people on the MIT campus have recognized that gay men are a visible and contributing part of the MIT community. A student body which boasts of pluralism and diversity should understand that gay men deserve the dignity and respect that all human beings should enjoy. Gay men must be accepted for who they are.

The fact that the people who asked the gay men to move to a less conspicuous place lived in that fraternity and therefore had the right to act from within the confines of their own private property is beside the point. Although the two people who asked the two gay men to leave felt offended, their intolerance should not be condoned by the MIT community. Fraternities are considered independent living groups, but they are subject to MIT anti-discrimination clauses which prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual preferences. As long as the offended people are part of the MIT community, they will need to understand that gay men are worthy of the respect given to any human being. Moreover, the fact that the "offended" people were courteous to the two gay men does not speak to the essential issue of discrimination.

Let us not forget that it was not too long ago when interracial marriages were viewed by many people as disgusting and revolting. The picture of two gay men holding hands should not be grounds for their relocation in a party. To justify the removal of the two men from their location in the party on the grounds of preventing harm to others is nonsensical, for it is clear that a held hand or an embrace does not harm anything but people's internalized prejudice against gay men.

The real problem is that homophobia and discrimination against gay men dehumanizes people. Society must recognize this as a problem and learn to accept gay men as human beings.

Luis Ramon Mireles '89->