Michael Cunningham & Virginia Woolf

July 22, 2004

To the Editor:

When I first read Michael Cunningham’s remarks on Virginia Woolf published in Gay City News—“Since ‘The Hours’ came out, especially the movie version, Virginia Woolf has moved from an obscure figure of English letters into a position of considerably more prominence.”—I wondered aloud, “Is he out of his mind?” (“Cunningham Comes Home,” by Tony Phillips, July 15-21).

Then I became deeply upset at the thought of someone on a university faculty promulgating such inanities among impressionable students.

Decades before Mr. Cunningham wrote his entertainment, “The Hours,” and long before Ms. Kidman’s false nose won an Oscar, Virginia Woolf was a world-class cultural icon. I was first introduced to her work by my current partner in 1964. He was enthralled by her genius, and we actually had her picture on our wall. I watched with both fascination and amusement as Virginia Woolf not only ascended the predominately white, male-obsessed literary pantheon, but also became a hot commercial property. By the 80s, her beautiful face was on T-shirts and Barnes & Noble book bags! It soon became impossible for me to keep up with the books being written about her, and about her imperishable work, which stands quite apart in the world’s imagination from the most sensational aspects of her personal life.

When Mr. Cunningham was—shall I say kindly—perusing the diaries and letters of Mrs. Woolf in preparation for writing his book, didn’t it strike him as odd to find the complete diaries and letters in many volumes of “an obscure figure of English letters,” along with every novel (in several variants), and every single essay she ever wrote, as accessible to him as the works of Shakespeare? Mr. Cunningham’s assessment of Virginia Woolf reads like something Joan Crawford would have said about F. Scott Fitzgerald, had the screenplay he was working on for her brought him some added publicity.

Mr. Cunningham’s ignorance is not akin to Lady Bracknell’s delicate and exotic fruit. In the hands of an educator, ignorance is a blunt weapon. He needs to be disarmed, fast, before he does any further damage.

Vincent Virga

Washington, DC

Marriage and the Federal Government

July 19, 2004

To The Editor:

President Bush keeps saying that “people,” not the courts, need to decide the issue of gay marriage (“Anti-Gay Amendment Fails in Senate,” by Stefen Styrksy, Gay City News, July 15-21). Funny, he had no problem with the courts, nor the people, deciding the last presidential election.

William Stosine

Iowa City, Iowa

July 27, 2004

To the Editor:

I became interested in learning more about the Log Cabin Republicans after reading Richard Tafel’s book, “Party Crashers.” I am a registered Democrat. However, I was greatly encouraged by the fact that the fight against homophobia could be fought in a more bipartisan manner. With the presidency, the House and the Senate being controlled by the Republicans, it made even more sense to have a voice of reason within the ranks.

There have been many in the gay community who have branded the members of the Log Cabin Republicans traitors within the gay community. The truth is that the only people who are going to initiate change are the members of the gay community themselves. With all due respect to our Democratic leaders, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act, and Hillary Clinton remained silent on the Rick Santorum debacle until pressured by the Gay City News. With the exception of Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun, all of the Democratic candidates were not on the side of gay marriage. On the flip side, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine spoke out in a bipartisan fashion when Rick Santorum equated homosexuality with bestiality, incest and polygamy. Republicans Collins, Snowe, John McCain of Arizona, Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and John Sununu of New Hampshire all voted with the Democrats against the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Is it possible for the Log Cabin Republicans to make more inroads into the party at large? I believe the answer to that is yes. However, it all hinges on what happens within the next month to see how this faction of the party handles its endorsement or lack of endorsement of George W. Bush for reelection.

George W. Bush ran in 2000 as a compassionate conservative. We have found out that he is not compassionate and not conservative. Barry Goldwater would not recognize his party if he were here to see it. In an article in The New York Times on Sunday, July 25, Chris Barron, political director of the Log Cabin Republicans, stated, “I plan on having the Gary Bauers and the Pat Robertsons leave the party before I do,” speaking of two prominent figures from the party’s most conservative branch.

George W. Bush has made it very clear that he stands firmly with that branch of the Party by his stance on amending the constitution to ban gay marriage. I would like to see the Log Cabin Republicans stand with the many other organizations in the gay community that are opposing the reelection of George W. Bush. In the manner that the 9/11 commission is attempting to solve the terror issue through bipartisan actions, I would like to see the problem of homophobia resolved through bipartisan efforts. I, for one, will do my part in this effort. I will be at the next meeting of the Log Cabin Republicans to propose this idea.

Andrew T. Conte

Jackson Heights

Saturday Night on Tape

July 24, 2004

To the Editor:

There’s obviously sharp disagreement over whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger is a sexist homophobe, but his “girlie man” remark does seem to have been a poorly received attempt at humor. I don’t watch “Saturday Night Live,” but according to the first news report I heard, Schwarzenegger was referring to someone who impersonates him on the show, using the phrase “girlie man.” Schwarzenegger was thinking everyone would understand him in that context and laugh. Some did, most didn’t, and I must say I’ve only heard the “Saturday Night Live” sketch mentioned that one, brief time.

Vincent J. Ward

Long Island City

Transgendered America

July 17, 2004

To the Editor:

Sometimes people look at a glass of water as half full; others see the same thing as half empty. As one of the transgender delegates to the Democratic National Convention and as a sometimes outspoken activist within the GLBTI community, I take issue with Rebecca Juro’s viewpoint in her op-ed piece. (“Ousted from Democracy,” Gay City News, July 15-21) seemed to be based on limited knowledge and did not present the full picture of what happened in just the latest chapter of an ongoing historical process in America’s history.

Were we disappointed, frustrated and angry? Hell yes! Did we have choices? There are always choices. In chess, sometimes it is beneficial to sacrifice a pawn to win a bishop or knight. I think we did that! We had an opportunity to educate not only members of the Platform Committee but also those in the Kerry Campaign.

We had friends in the Platform Committee. What Rebecca didn’t report was that the National Stonewall Democrats also submitted an amendment on our behalf. Scott Safier of Pennsylvania gave an impassioned and moving speech in our behalf that elicited an extremely positive response from the floor and promised more future allies. His speech made people aware of us, many for the first time. There are no transpeople on the platform committee—how would most of them know about us?

Until two or three years ago, we had no permanent presence in Washington. Who was advocating for us in the nation’s capital? HRC? C’mon Becky, give us a break!

We do have many friends and are gaining more. Becky, when you visited your congressman in DC last April, you were told that Rush Holt was clearly in favor of trans inclusion in the Employment Non Discrimination Act. In Asbury Park’s Jersey Pride Parade in June, 2004, who marched the entire route with GRAANJ, the Jersey gender advocacy group? Congressman Frank Pallone! He understands, as does Sen. Jon Corzine and most of the New Jersey congressional delegation.

We are new at this; we have our own learning curve. We have so much education to do for so many people and so little time. We are finally being recognized by the DNC as having our own identity within the LGBT family. Maybe we lost a skirmish on the platform, but there’s a big war to be won and we “ain’t “quitting!

Barbra A. Casbar

Edison, NJ

Political Director-GRAANJ

VP-NJ Stonewall Democrats

2004 Delegate, Democratic National Convention

July 19, 2004

To the Editor:

I just read Rebecca Juro’s article on the Democratic Party and transgender issues, and your ending reminded me of a quote by Eugene Debs: “While there is a lower class I am in it; while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

We will keep working.

My feeling personally is that it is too early to expect anyone—much less the stodgy Democratic Party—to include transgender equality. That’s not a reason not to push for it, by any means, and I applaud your efforts. I will keep working personally on education, which I hope clears some of the pathways to power, over time.

But I’m still picking stodgy over hateful this year, and voting Kerry/Edwards.

Helen Boyd


July 24, 2004

To the Editor:

Scott Safier’s op-ed “National Democratic Party Is Trans-Inclusive” (Gay City News, July 22-28), which gives the details of the debate concerning the transgender rights Democratic Party platform plank, was quite interesting, but it fails to address the larger, key question, one I posed in my own on op-ed on the subject: Why?

I have absolutely no doubt that Scott Safier did whatever was within his power to support and advocate for the transgender community and our civil rights. There’s also no question that the transgender delegates and committee members acted in our community’s best interests. The question that must be asked is: Why were they put in this difficult situation by the party leadership in the first place?

Why is it acceptable for a political party that uses terms like “unified” and “all-inclusive” to define itself and its platform to declare itself supportive of the rights of some, but not all, American citizens? Why are the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans staunchly supported in this platform, even in the face of certain attack from right-wing conservatives, but those of transgendered Americans apparently considered optional, and therefore expendable?

Rebecca Juro

North Brunswick, NJ

More on Tina

July 20, 2004

To the Editor:

Andrew Miller’s article on Miss Tina in the July 8-14 issue was spectacularly good and convincing (“What’s Shame Got to Do With It?”). As a recently widowed 57-year-old man who’s been HIV-positive for more than 20 yrs, and on libido-destroying anti-depressants since 1993, coming out of a 12-year monogamous relationship, I was actually tempted to try meth until I read Miller’s funny, smart and utterly compelling article.

Scratch that thought. I’ll stick to safer ways to have fun and enjoy life.

Miller is a wonderful writer. I’ll look forward to future articles and, I hope, books by him.

Rayford Kytle

National Institute of Mental Health

Office of Communications


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