why is new york such a laggard?
February 17, 2006
First, may I compliment you on a fine publication with excellent, serious reporting.
My partner and I are recent arrivals from Los Angeles. Both he and I are shocked at the pitiful state of gay equality in the largest metropolitan area of the country. Reading your paper this morning, we see Mr. Bloomberg’s anti-gay win over domestic partnership equality in city contracts with the overturning of the Equal Benefits Law, this while your mayor claims to be pro-gay. (“Bloomberg Wins Vs. Gay Partners,” by Paul Schindler, Feb. 16-22). Albany is in your breaking news section having rejected “three gay marriage lawsuits.” I understand Mr. Bloomberg is also fighting against gay marriage in the courts. Please forgive me for asking how he thinks he is helping?
I held the understanding that New York is a blue state and a stronghold of Democratic and not Republican ideals, yet Senator Clinton refuses to support gay marriage and apparently supports some wishy-washy civil unions alternative.
I’m dismayed at having arrived to live here. The basic equality which I held very dear in California, and depended upon to protect my partner and me and our interests, isn’t even on the table here as a possibility. Why?
Is the gay populace here so secure in their social position that they believe they are untouchable? Where is their will, their outrage, their demand to obtain the basic rights of equality which their heterosexual peers enjoy? I am reminded of two literary references. The obvious, the taunt from Roy Cohn in “Angels in America”—pardon my paraphrasing—”… that in two decades of fighting, the faggots can’t even get a simple equality bill past City Council…” and, secondly, and far more frightening, I feel that I’ve suddenly arrived in the “castellated abbey” of Prince Prospero and that gays in NYC are perpetually and happily living at an enchanting costumed masque while completely and utterly ignoring the very real and very deadly specter at the gate.
Donald W. Larson
New York City
Beauty Lost and Re-Found
February 20, 2006
To The Editor:
Cheers to Christopher Murray’s “When Old Friends Turn Ugly” (Feb. 16-22). Even with increased self acceptance, and so many more venues for socialization at our disposal, certainly gay bars and alcohol continue to influence the comfort of strangers in 2006.
Mr. Murray’s insightful views cause one to think of the “good ole days” and the challenges in their wake… all with a stiff shot of how strong our community is with our resolve.
Administrator, Pridecare, Inc.
New York City
February 20, 2006
To the Editor:
I first started drinking at 15 and came out late 16/early 17 in the mid-’80s. I immediately joined RI Gay and Lesbian Youth (no alcohol) within a month of coming out. Soon after, at 17, I was going to the No Name bar in Providence, RI. They paid off the cops to stay away. You’d walk in and go through the same song and dance every night. “Do you have a drivers license?” “Um, no.” “What year were you born?” “1962.” “OK, just sign this affidavit and then write in your name and date of birth.”
Cool thing was, No Name had a very mixed crowd (men and women) and they had lots of drag queens and leather queens. They played lots of great 1980s dance music—New Order, Modern English, Prince, Depeche Mode, and Taylor Dayne. Occasionally a big disco act would play like Debbie Gibson (who was 16 at the time), Sylvester, and even Dead or Alive.
The No Name was probably not the healthiest way for a teen to learn about being gay but it was an education. Drinking in moderation was never my problem. However just discovering gay sex, I was a kid, literally, in a candy store. The drag queens gave great tips on cruising men. I have fond memories but few of that crowd is around today. Mostly AIDS. The lesbian whom I took to my prom did develop a drinking problem in her 20s. However most of the gay men I knew never had a chance to grow old, ugly, and alcoholic.
Good-bye to all that
February 3, 2006
To the Editor
I share the wry sadness Christopher Murray expresses in his article, “Lament for the Flamer” (Feb. 2-8). Personally, I butched it up years ago when I realized that hardly anyone wanted to sleep with a girly man. “Yo, Bro” was always more effective in the sexual arena than “Wassup, girleen?” Neither feels completely organic to me. Nor do they feel bad. It’s all pretty much drag to me, but I will admit feeling a rush of exhilarating freedom when “girling it up”. At the same time, I’m always a little embarrassed to be doing so, and question the authenticity of the posture.
I’m an actor and just finished a production of Jeff Whitty’s (“Avenue Q”) new play at South Coast Rep called “The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler,” where I played a huge flamer who was essentially a synthesis of gay characters from Mart Crowley’s “Boys in the Band.” Whitty examines not only the loss of the gay queen, but also explores black stereotypes, and in the play the gay boys spend some time with the Mammy character from “Gone with the Wind.” Mr. Whitty loves and respects these characters, and calls them pioneers for the rest of us. I got some nice kudos for the role, but tellingly, no dates. Maybe I should go out with Mr. Murray. I like smart, sensitive guys.
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