Letters to the Editor

Published in: July-August 2019 issue.


Theory of Revolution Makes Sense

To the Editor:

         Of all of the explanations of the Stonewall riots, the one espoused by Marc Stein in the article “A Theory of Revolution for the Riots” [May-June 2019 issue] comes closest to my personal experience as a gay man living in New York in the 1960s. There was indeed a “prolonged period of rising expectations” in New York in the mid-’60s: When I came out in 1964, there were still bars that prohibited talking to one’s neighbors; the mafia-operated dance bars were raided routinely; one had to be in the know from month to month about where the current dance bar was located.

         One night in 1967, word spread at Julius’, which was filled to the brim with gay men, that a new dance bar had opened around the corner. We ran over to see for ourselves and signed up to be “members,” quite expecting the Stone-wall to be raided within a month. It didn’t happen.

         I was not especially political during that time; I was not aware of the activity of the Mattachine Society or of improvement outside of New York City, but it seemed clear to me that things had become much better for gay men in New York since John Lindsay was elected mayor. (The Continental Baths opened in 1968—no more need to skulk around in dank places like the Everard Baths.)

         I was out of town during the riots—but my reaction to the news of the raid was outrage: “I thought we were done with this shit!” I assumed that the rioters felt that way as well.

Sam Sanders, Montpelier, VT


The Pride Parade before Disneyfication

To the Editor:

         I always enjoy reading your publication but this issue [“Stonewall Special,” May-June 2019] was particularly poignant for me and my partner of 36 years.

         We have attended the Pride march in New York City since 1981. Back then it had a purpose. We were marching to save lives either because of AIDS or the fact that we were still being beaten up on the streets and treated as second-class citizens. We came from the generation that witnessed our friends dropping like flies. Visiting them in hospitals when they were quarantined due to ignorance. But still we fought, and marched, on. There was nothing more chilling, and moving, than marching down Fifth Avenue and the parade going dead silent at noon to acknowledge those we lost due to AIDS.

         Other than this illness, we were marching to be accepted as normal, healthy human beings with no stigma attached to being gay. Now when we go to the march it’s like a Disney affair or the Thanksgiving Day Parade. We ask ourselves, Should we be proud because what we fought for is coming true? Is this what we really wanted? Do gay and lesbian young people understand what it took to get this point in our community? Are they taking the easy way out with things like PreP? At 60 and 64, where do we fit in?

         Corporations now realize our community not only has money to spend but also tends to be very loyal to those who support our causes. (As a marketing professional, I know this through research.)

         Nevertheless, we will be at the march in NYC on June 30th—but, having read your article on the alternative march, we are wondering which one we will attend.

         Thanks, as always, for an outstanding publication.

Paul C. Ruck, Randolph NJ


What Kind of Mormon Hell?

To the Editor:

         At the end of a BTW item titled “Ex-‘Ex’” in the May-June issue, concerning the Mormon “ex-gay conversion” ex-therapist David Matheson, we read: “Perhaps there’s a special place in ‘scary Mormon hell’ (for you BOM fans) for this guy.” Great idea for where this creep should end up, but the song is “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream.” For another generation, this would be like referring to “Whatever Lola Craves” or “I’m gonna wash that dude right out of my hair.” Non-fans wouldn’t know the difference, and “scary” still makes the point, but fans would take it very seriously!

         This item also notes that David Matheson apologized and came out as gay. I would even question his use of the word “gay” to describe himself. I resist using this word to describe people like David Matheson, former Congressman Aaron Schock, or Roy Cohn. For me, gay people have come out as such despite society’s discrimination; they accept who they are and do not hurt other people because of their own lack of self-acceptance. Thus, for example, when ex-U.S. Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was busted for soliciting sex with an undercover police officer and declared “I am not gay,” I remember thinking: “That’s right, you’re not gay; you’re a closeted homosexual who has been living a double life.” There is a difference.

Steven Susoyev, San Francisco


Across from the Caffe

To the Editor:

         Regarding Andrew Holleran’s article “Glitter and Be Gay” [in the May-June 2019 issue]: On Cornelia Street across from Caffe Cino was the gallery of Frank Thompson. It was the meeting place of young gays from age fifteen and up. Sometimes the actors who played at Caffe Cino rehearsed in the gallery. From the gallery we would go across to the Caffe to enjoy the play. On one occasion, for a scene from Eugene O’Neill’s play A Moon for the Misbegotten starring Neil Flanagan, a couple of boys from the gallery were cast for parts in the play.

Paul B. Hercz, Flushing, NY


A Longtime Activist Bids Adieu

To the Editor:

         This will be my last letter, I feel sure, but maybe you can find a space to include it. I wanted to have this as a parting thought for those who would like to hear from me in this way:

         Be brave! Think outside the box! Most people don’t, won’t, can’t, or refuse to believe they are in a box.

Gene Elder, San Antonio


Attention: Survivors of Psychiatric Abuse

To the Editor:

         Please be so kind as to publish this little letter in the next edition of The G&LR.

         I am trying to organize a Me Too Movement for Victims of Homophobic Psychiatrists. Until December 15, 1973, the American Psychiatric Association considered homosexuality to be a mental illness. Psychiatrists could do anything that they wanted to cure us, including administering electric shocks and performing lobotomies. Many of their patients became insane or committed suicide. I would be grateful for any stories that you might like to share with me. Full anonymity is assured. You can write to me at rdole@videotron.ca. I hope to make a dossier that I will present to the American Psychiatric Association with a request that they formally apologize for having persecuted homosexuals.

Robert Dole, Chicoutimi, Québec