New Leadership, Old Attitudes

November 7, 2003

To the Editor:

While the issues brought up in Paul Schindler’s Letter from the Editor related to Cheryl Jacques’ ascendance to the head of the community’s largest national organization, the Human Rights Campaign, are troubling, her performance during her introductory conference call with the gay press betrays an even larger problem (“The Tests of Leadership,” Gay City News, Nov. 6-12).

When I was the news editor of Outweek magazine from 1989 through 1991, I noticed a disturbingly dismissive attitude toward the gay press by the leaders of our own national organizations. On the whole, they expected us to print their press releases and sweep any dirt under the rug, while simultaneously treating us like second-class members of the fourth estate.

“A telephone press conference introducing Jacques opened with a curt statement that the group hoped to move things along as quickly as possible,” Schindler reported. “Much of the rest of the session reinforced the sense that a press briefing was something the group had little time or patience for, and perhaps would just as soon have skipped.”

I’m guessing things at Jacques’ press briefing with the mainstream press weren’t quite as curt.

Sadly, it looks like very little has changed in nearly 15 years. The leaders of our organizations must learn that the gay press is the most important tool they have for galvanizing their constituency nationwide, raising money, and affecting political and social change.

It’s time they took their noses out of the asses of reporters at The New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and other papers which, on the whole, do their best to ignore our community, and started treating the gay press respectfully, instead of taking it for granted. Perhaps the reaction to Jacques’ new job in gay and lesbian papers across the country will bring that point home to her.

Andrew Miller


Curves and the Christian Right

November 11, 2003

To the Editor:

Vis-a-vis your Michelangelo Signorile’s brief piece on AOL and the Christian Right in the November 6-12 issue of Gay City News, “Who Gets to Write History:”

I recently thought of joining the women’s exercise club Curves. I did some research on the net and was very concerned to see that this popular international franchise is run by Gary Heavin, a born-again, anti-choice Christian. Heavin has become a millionaire due to Curves and is giving large sums of money to anti-choice organizations. I can just bet what he thinks of queers.

The Curves program is inviting to many women because it is woman-only, low-key, anti-diet program and works well with diverse bodies and ability levels. It is highly popular in my location and I know quite a few feminist, progressive, and lesbian women who have joined, unaware that their $600 is contributing to an anti-choice crusade.

The Curves website says nothing about any of this, nor do any mainstream media interviews with Heavin or other Curves promoters. I had to dig a bit to find it. I hope that some more visible counter-publicity will emerge soon, informing women about what they are supporting when they spend money at Curves.

Ryn Hodes

Park Slope

In the North of Ireland, Who are the Arabs, Who are the Jews?

November 17, 2003

To the Editor:

Daniel Lang/Levitsky’s op-ed “Speaking Truth to Strange Bedfellows” (Gay City News, Nov. 13-19) describes the situation in Northern Ireland as a “military occupation.”

This is, of course, not true. Northern Ireland voted democratically to remain part of Britain at the outset and continues to vote to remain British, but by ever diminishing margins. The problem in Northern Ireland isn’t that of a military occupation, but of vicious sectarian enmities, as if it is in the Middle East. Both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic extremists are grievously at fault and make a mockery of the notion that they are Christian at all.

The British are there to preserve democracy and avert civil war, at considerable cost to themselves both in lives and money. Now that the Irish Republic is no longer de facto Roman Catholic theocracy, it seems likely that Northern Ireland may vote to become part of a United Ireland sooner rather than later. When that happens, the loudest cheer will come from Westminster. The British will be out of there in a heartbeat, breathing a sigh of relief.

Andrew Trimingham


The Dilemma of the Old Testament

November 14, 2003

To the Editor:

Eugene Robinson has been consecrated Bishop of New Hampshire (“First Gay Bishop Consecrated,” by Andy Humm, Gay City News, Nov. 6-12). We wish him every success in his journey, and the same for the Episcopal Church, which is going to be difficult. The Episcopal Church is to be commended for taking a step which would have been inconceivable not long ago.

This event is a considerable gain for gays in terms of justice and rights. It may however have unforeseen consequences in terms of spirituality. In the installation liturgy, Fr. Robinson swore allegiance to, among other things, the authority of the Old Testament. For gay Christians, here lies an inescapable trap. The Old Testament is the source of all of our trouble. The God of the Old Testament despises same-sex people. For many of us, Robinson’s installation will throw a spotlight on an incoherent situation.

This dilemma is resolvable. The answer is rising slowly from the ashes of history.

Spiritual writings which are contemporary with the lifetime of Jesus Christ have been found and made available, and which present a very different idea of the mission of Jesus here on earth. His law of love and teachings supersede the laws of the Old Testament. In fact, St. Paul had gone a long way toward this in his teaching. Church fathers restored the full law of the Old Testament in those days for political reasons. Many of the found writings scorn these laws as wrong-headed and destructive.

Bishop Robinson may unfortunately be forever caught in mainstream Christianity’s web of dogmatic contradictions. Christian gays who desire a genuine spirituality, who will look to these other sources, do not have to be so.

Michael Bacon

Circle of the Free Spirit

Jersey City


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