Letters to the Editor

Published in: May-June 2024 issue.

Russian State Media Is on Our Shores

To the Editor:

            Diana Sadretdinova’s op-ed piece, “How Russian Media Demonizes LGBT People” [March-April 2024], is shocking and frightening, not only for its description of the hellhole Putin has created for LGBT Russians, but also because the “Russian Media” in the title can easily be replaced by “Fox News” to describe what is being broadcast day and night at America’s most-watched cable network. Fox News routinely reports that our Pride flags promote pedophilia and the “grooming” of children, that boycotts are the appropriate reaction to businesses that market to gay and trans consumers, and that the mere mention of our existence in schools “sexualizes children.”

            The hate promoted in Putin’s Russia and on Fox News is not new, but it is newly dangerous. Rwandan Hutus used media to relentlessly attack the Tutsi minority prior to the 1994 genocide, and Nazis used media to demonize Jews in the early 1930’s, isolating German Jews from the rest of society and desensitizing non-Jewish Germans to the increasing persecution of their Jewish neighbors.

            Fox routinely uses its vast broadcast and digital empire to promote stories that reflect negatively on LGBT people, jumping on them even when later they prove to be inaccurate. After a recent shooting at a church in Houston, the Fox News digital headline triumphantly reported the shooter to be transgender. Elon Musk, Donald Trump Jr., and Republican politicians such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Marjorie Taylor Greene quickly seized on a false narrative that the female shooter “lived as a man” and was just another in an “epidemic” of trans shootings. When Fox realized the trans identity of the shooter was false, they changed the headline, and reported, buried deep in the original piece, that “some news outlets had mistakenly reported that the shooter was trans.”

            Although the war against LGBT Americans being waged at Fox and smaller right-wing media outlets is not currently supported by our federal government, that might change if the anti-LGBT bigots at Fox are buoyed by national Republican victories in November. Should this happen, Fox News’ dream of the Christian nationalist Russification of America will be well underway.

Marc Paige, Fairhaven, MA

Rainbow Flags in the Market St. March

To the Editor:

            I have a quibble with Emily L. Quint Freeman’s essay on Harvey Milk in the March-April 2024 issue titled “November 1978: The Agony and the Irony.”

            I attended the 1978 Pride event, walking from my apartment in the Castro down Market Street to Powell Street. I saw no rainbow flags until I encountered the two astonishingly enormous banners at the Civic Center on Market Street. I was overwhelmed by the symbolism and took photos of the flags with my Instamatic camera. I don’t remember seeing any other rainbow flags on light standards or carried in the parade as described in the article.

            I found a YouTube video of the 1978 parade and it only shows the two giant flags I mentioned above. There were no other rainbow flags in the clip, not even an “accidental” rainbow costume in the massive crowd. In fact the whole event looked drab without the now common rainbow display.

Jon Cloudfield Merkle, Oakland, CA

One Figure Missing from SF Roundup

To the Editor:

            Thanks for your San Francisco issue [March-April 2024]. I found it odd that Jim Van Buskirk, in “One Hundred Years of Togetherness,” would omit any mention of a towering figure of that century, who brought so many oppressed gay men together and, more importantly, was the first gay man to run for public office in the United States: José Julio Sarria, who usually went simply by José, otherwise known as Empress Norton I. José was the first to publicly file and run for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, in 1961—a seat won by Harvey Milk almost two decades later.

            Van Buskirk does include a mention of the Black Cat on Montgomery Street, where the determined drag queen and activist José would perform his distinct versions of

famous operas (often Carmen) sometimes leading the patrons into the street to hold hands and sing “God Save Us Nelly Queens.” It was dangerous and thrilling and none of us who were there will ever forget the courage and empowerment—not to mention the sheer fun—delivered by this saint among us.

            José, the Empress Norton, deserves at least a mention in any history of gay San Francisco.

Dave Campbell, Dayton, WA


Outer Appearances, the thirtieth-anniversary book that replaced our January-February 2024 issue, contained an editorial mistake on page 18. The actual year of publication of Alan Cumming’s book Baggage was 2021 (not 1921!).

In the March-April 2024 issue’s In Memoriam column (page 7), Charles Silverstein was listed as a psychiatrist. He held a doctorate in social psychology and was a psychotherapist in a private practice, but was not an MD or a psychiatrist.