Reporting Stigma and Creating It

October 14, 2005

To the Editor:

In the article “East Village Artist Battles Stigma,” (October 13-19), Ronda Kaysen writes of “… sufferers of a disease that often strikes people living on the margins.” Later on, she mentions that stigma might be part of the reason why hepatitis C is so rarely discussed in the public arena. Gee, thanks, Ronda. I see you’re doing your part to perpetuate the stigma. Way to go. Was it really necessary to imply that most of us live on the margins? Because you know, most of us really don’t.

Kathryn MacDonald

Via e-mail

Shine a Light on the Palisades

September 24, 2005

To the Editor:

I have been reading with interest your stories about the treatment of gay men by the Palisades Park police (“Gay Man Admits Lewdness, But Charges Brutality,” by Duncan Osborne, September 22-28). My suggestion would be to publish pictures of the offending officers with your next article. Let everyone know who they are and what they look like.

Dawn R. SanFilippo, Esq.

Cedar Grove, New Jersey

Direct Action is Not Violence

September 25, 2005

To the Editor:

Joe Dignan’s news article “Gay Advocates Press Schwarzenegger” (Sep. 15-21), is accompanied by the alarming subhead “Amidst fevered efforts to save marriage bill, some calls for violence,” but nowhere in his article is the assertion of calls for “even violence” substantiated in any way. In the article’s fourth paragraph there is brief mention of an unnamed activist who apparently “challenged” a local gay organization leader to engage in “direct action tactics,” but direct action is not synonymous with violence and should not be equated with violence by LGBT community journalists and editors who should know better.

The vast majority of “direct action tactics” are non-violent. In fact, the majority of community actions undertaken by LGBT activists since the Stonewall Uprising (an undeniably violent event) have been non-violent direct action, the tactics of which include letter-writing campaigns, silent vigils, boycotts, speak-outs, and marches to name just a few. Handcuffing oneself to office furniture is obviously annoying to the person or entity targeted, but that’s the point. Office sit-ins have been and continue to be a non-violent direct action used by LGBT and other grassroots groups so often denied a voice in our democracy.

In recent years, “direct action” has been successfully equated with violence in the mainstream press. By repeating this falsehood, Gay City News unwittingly participates in promoting misunderstanding and fear among those LGBT community members with little experience with direct action as a non-violent tool for social change. The reflexive equation of direct action with violence impairs the ability of LGBT community members to learn from past, successful direct action movements—ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, and Queer Nation come to mind. An independent voice for the LGBT community shouldn’t write in such a sway as to effectively obscure past accomplishments and impair our ability to organize for our future survival.

Paul Schindler responds: The equation of violence and direct action was an inadvertent editing error. The final edited Web version of the story has a subhead that reads, “Amidst fevered efforts to save marriage bill, even a call for pitchforks,´ and notes that one California gay activist suggested violence, in the form of advocates carrying pitchforks to Sacramento, harkening back to the French Revolution.

A Fitting Tribute to Jack Nichols

October 05, 2005

To the Editor:

Thank you for your great article about Jack’s Nichols’s memorial (“A Gay Liberation Giant Remembered,” by Andy Humm, Sep. 29-Oct. 5).

Jack’s Web site is jack-nichols.com. His main archive will be at Duke University and Dr James Sears, whose Web site is jtsears.com, is his acting administrator for this depository. A biography is to be finished next month and will be published by the Haworth Press. Dr. J. Louis Campbell III of Penn State is the author. Again, thank you for this coverage.

Steven Yates

Via Email


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