Letters to the Editor

Published in: March-April 2024 issue.

The Boys’ Long March to Broadway

To the Editor:

            In the Nov.-Dec. 2023 issue, the photograph on page 33 is labeled: “A scene from the original Broadway production (1970) of The Boys in the Band.” However, the play did not run on Broadway until 2018. The 1970 production played Off-Broadway at Theater Four for 1001 performances.

            That was a long time ago, but I didn’t want a phalanx of young queers to be thinking that in 1970 Broadway had the imaginative room to accommodate such a ground- breaking play, when in reality no one with a wallet wanted to make that happen or believed Broadway could support it. Their assumptions of super knowledge kept them from making the fists-ful of money that the Off-Broadway investors ultimately reaped (some of whom are still living off that money).

Craig Lucas, Putnam Valley, NY

Fantasy of a Pubic Sculpture

To the Editor:

            Regarding the BTW item titled “An Eye for an Anus” in the Nov.-Dec. 2023 issue: as a professional artist and sculptor, what I observe in Phillip K. Smith’s sculpture is the unique, cheerful design of this wonderful, inviting piece. Of all places, one would not expect hip Palm Springs to host such a ridiculous controversy, forcing the artist to change the design!

            Throughout my career, some of my sculptures have been subjected to head-shaking comments suggesting that something sexual was going on (always news to ne). For example, my stone-and-gold leaf sculpture The Wisdom Seeker was created to be a unisex spiritual entity and was selected for display at Capitol Grounds in Olympia, Washington. It wasn’t until the suits from the government strolled through the park and brought it to the attention of the Parks Art Department that anyone questioned it. Standing at the back side of the sculpture, one of the suits asked the art director: “Tell me what you see?” “A Robed figure,” she replied. “You don’t see the giant penis?” he asked. Her reply was priceless: “Giant penis? I suppose you also see Mickey Mouse in the clouds.” Praise her for being an intelligent art director and for demanding that the sculpture remain in place. She spared me a lawsuit had they taken it down.

Leon White, Seattle, WA

Ten Years Later, Victim in a BTW Surfaces

To the Editor:

            My name is Jeff White, and I am the subject of one of your articles. The article was written by one Richard Schneider and was published in 2014 [Nov.-Dec. issue, a BTW item] and titled “Putting the X in Ex-Gay Therapy.” I was not aware of this article until today, nearly ten years later. That said, I just wanted to send a thank you to Mr. Schneider for his words. As the victim mentioned in the article [having been raped weekly by the perpetrator], the events surrounding my childhood were very difficult. As well, the events surrounding the lawsuit [against Steven Barnes]were also difficult, but in different ways.

            A quick update: the case was eventually dismissed by the Mississippi Supreme Court, citing a lack of evidence. While that may be true, I can say that there was DNA found in his former office. While I am under the impression that that DNA did belong to me, it was never stated in the affirmative that this was the case. Although he did not go to prison for what he did, he will deal with the things that he did to me in different ways.

            Steven Barnes and his family—his wife Sherry, their daughter Makaela, and their son Colin—were all permanently relocated to Guam. There they have been living their lives as missionaries, preaching the gospel or whatever the hell it is that they do. They’re not allowed to come back to the U.S. They will never be given a chance to live the privileged life that they once had. It may not be prison, but close enough.

            After I stepped forward and told my story about Steven Barnes, the church that was attached to my school was permanently fractured and split into two churches. The new church, led by a childhood friend of mine named Rev. Greg Hill, was founded because they believed that what I said was true. They were formed to create a safe place for people of their denomination. I was not the first child to come forward for that place, and I probably will not be the last.

            While no one did officially come forward to report Steven Barnes as I had, there were other victims. I know because they reached out to me. For a variety of reasons, they weren’t able to go public in the way that I did. Whether they were protecting their mothers who were still church members or worried that coming forward would disrupt the lives they had built, I understand and respect their decisions.

            I am very appreciative to Mr. Schneider for what he said and simply for reporting this story. I’m grateful for finding this after ten years of perspective have opened up. It’s little write-ups such as this that help to affirm victims and survivors that coming forward can result in a positive response. That should be enough to help a majority of survivors to step forward.

Jeff White, Northern Mississippi