More Reaction to Reagan’s Death

June 11, 2004

To the Editor:

Thanks to Gay City News for Andrew Miller’s article on the national response to the death of former President Ronald Reagan (“It’s Mourning in America,” June 10-16). Given the American tendency to blur history with sentiment in times like these, it is urgent that we remember the magnitude of our loss (and the losses of other minority communities) during the years of the legendary Reaganite optimism and geniality. Miller’s pointed and eloquent article spoke for many of us, I am sure. Certainly for me.

I am not in mourning.

Rabbi David Dunn Bauer

Amherst, Mass.

June 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Andrew Miller’s commentary on Reagan was a refreshing response to the non-stop Reagan “tributes” that filled the rest of the media—including some of the queer media—last week.

At a time when even the Human Rights Campaign felt the need to issue a press release praising him, I can’t understate the importance of his column.

I hope you will continue to give him space in Gay City News for his much-need perspective.

Hal German


June 22, 2004

To the Editor:

My thanks to Timothy Crour for his letter of June 13, 2004 (Letters to the Editor, June 17-23) and his bravery in expressing his views in support of Ronald Reagan in response to the Gay City News coverage the week before.

To answer his question if he is the only gay man in America to be offended by Joe Dignan’s article “AIDS Ignored in Reagan Presidency and Legacy,” and opinion pieces such as Andrew Miller’s, Juan Mendez’s, Nathan Riley’s, and Paul Schindler’s, I say no. I too was taken aback. I am saddened that we would hold the government responsible for fixing our problems, that we would demand a cure for something we knew nothing about, except for the widespread assumption that HIV was the cause of it all. So hyped we could not see ourselves, and in many cases our self-destructive behavior and addictions. I remember when I found out in 1984 that I had the virus, I made a firm commitment to myself that I would pursue an even healthier life/health style. I became an active member of Sundance Outdoor Adventure Society leading hikes, canoe trips and cross country ski weekends. I intensified my commitment to my partner and lover, ready to tackle any and all the obstacles that would come my way. It did not matter to me what politicians were not saying. And so my own healing began.

Government support or not, looking back at the 80s and 90s I am in awe at what the gay and straight communities were able to accomplish by working together, empowered by our own fervor. The AIDS medical emergency has subsided now that we have a myriad of treatment options, both medical and alternative. But my response to your coverage and to Larry Kramer’s vendetta to be printed in the upcoming Advocate (“Adolph Regan”) is simple: What good can come of making past wrong? Shouldn’t we be celebrating our endurance and successes throughout it all, especially Kramer’s groundbreaking case, where he demanded and received a new liver? Is it not enough that he is surviving now?

During the interminable week of mourning Reagan’s death I was at home recovering from surgery, held captive to my National Public Radio. Over and over again I heard his voice saying that his parents brought him up to believe that we are what we make of ourselves. And so we are. Still today the prevailing attitude that medicine will fix everything might be holding people back from achieving their highest level of survival. We must understand that ultimately we heal in our very own silence and stillness.

William Holahan


June 18, 2004

To the Editor:

We happened to be driving around Washington, D.C. last Thursday, while

Reagan’s body lay in state in the Capitol. It was the middle of the night, and we saw people waiting patiently, the line stretching the length of the Mall.  I figured that most of them were looking forward to spitting on Reagan’s casket, but my companions told me that wasn’t so.

It was, therefore, a great relief to read Andrew Miller’s wise, thoughtful, and honest column in the Gay City News. It occurred to me that Outweek may have faded away, but the need for that unrelenting voice is still as strong as ever—maybe even more, nowadays.

Thanks for publishing it.

Jim O’Connor


June 20, 2004

To the Editor:

Just a note to tell you how pleased I was to read Andrew Miller’s op-ed in the Gay City News. I thought the whole edition of your paper was one of the best ever and represented a high-water mark in the annals of LGBT journalism.

Keep this good stuff coming.

Charley Beal



The Human Rights Campaign and Gender Rights

June 20, 2004

To the Editor:

First, as communications director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association (GRAANJ), I’d like to thank Gay City News for covering an important story about our decision to return grant money we received from the Human Rights Campaign (“N.J. Trans Group Returns Grant,” by Nicholas Boston, June 17-23). However, I feel I must respond to Pauline Park’s comments, as quoted in your story.

Ms. Park says, “My understanding is that they [GRAANJ] got this equality grant to do the work they’re doing on a local and state level, not the federal level, so I’m a little surprised that they’d raise this issue. HRC is not where some transgendered activists want them to be, but they’ve come a long way and that needs to be recognized.”

It’s certainly true that our organization was given this grant to advocate at the state and local levels. However, given that Ms. Park has been an advocate of transgender rights in New York for many years, I find it surprising that she has difficulty understanding why we do not feel comfortable continuing to accept the financial support of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization which has been clearly shown to be actively working against the interests of our community at the federal level. We at GRAANJ have raised this issue and took the action we did because we don’t believe that an organization which gives to our community with one hand as it takes away from it with the other is one we wish to feel beholden to.

And yes, HRC absolutely has come a long way from where they once were in terms of support for transgender Americans and does deserve credit for doing so. Nevertheless, that’s hardly a reason not to demand fair and equal treatment in advocacy at the federal level for the gender-variant from HRC, in the same way that it’s unacceptable not to continue fighting for the equality of gays and lesbians simply because the Supreme Court has now ruled that laws defining homosexual conduct as criminal are unconstitutional. Has Ms. Park so quickly forgotten the SONDA fiasco? Is she comfortable with having her right to be protected against discrimination because of her gender identity and expression limited to within the confines of New York City and a handful of other jurisdictions in New York State? While she may find such half-measures acceptable, we at GRAANJ believe that it’s not really civil rights unless all civilians are protected, and we will continue to work toward that goal at all levels of government.

If the Human Rights Campaign, their political allies, and those who think like Ms. Park were willing to take such a resolute stand on behalf of the equality of all Americans, no doubt we’d all be a lot better off.

Rebecca Juro

North Brunswick, New Jersey

Chagrined to Find Ben Gazzara in Gay City News

June 18, 2004

To the Editor:

I was horrified to see a photo of Ben Gazzara on page 17 of your paper’s June 17-23 issue. Am I the only fag in the world old enough to remember Mr. Gazzara’s insidious limp-wristed, lisping imitation of Rex Reed on the Mike Douglas Show back in the 70s simply because Mr. Reed had had the audacity to give a bad review to one of his movies? Had he received a bad review from an African-American critic would he have treated his television audience to a Stepin Fetchit routine? What would he have done had his reviewer been an amputee?

It was easy back then to deprecate gays on TV and unfortunately it largely still is. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now. Mr. Gazzara has no place appearing in a gay publication.

Mark Davis



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