The problem I have with Douglas Sadownick's article "What's Next: The Gay Movement at the Crossroads" [May 2127] is the assumption the gay movement is actually going somewhere. During my lifetime, the movement is and has always been 20 years behind the times, and those involved politically in the gay community tend to narrowcast the other members of that community, and the issues that affect us. Being gay is more than AIDS, death and discrimination. We who are gay do not have equal rights, do not have the right to marry, do not have adequate support and protection for gay teenagers or seniors. We are asked to pay equal taxes, yet we cannot serve in the military. We are a community with health concerns that include, but are not limited to, AIDS.
Those who seek political influence in the gay community need to expand their vision, look forward to the future, and ask, "Why isn't that future now?"
--Michael L. Stempel
Those of us with HIV, and lucky enough to be living, would appreciate it if Douglas Sadownick would stop confusing having AIDS with being gay. As for the Branch Weinsteinians at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, they will always be looking for the next fight. They're the school-yard bullies of whom many are afraid, and whom some tolerate and no one really respects. Those of us with HIV want our lives back; we don't want hysterics screaming in the street.
Being gay in Los Angeles, as most can attest, is easier because of the hard work of people at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, and elsewhere. As far as I'm concerned, Sadownick couldn't possibly know what that really means, or he wouldn't have written the article he did.
The strength of the gay and lesbian movement lies in the variety of talents, perspectives and tactics we bring to our struggle for civil rights. Whether lobbying an elected official, educating our future community leaders, or taking to the streets when the only appropriate response is outrage -- together we are making strides in our community's ongoing struggle.
The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center is an enthusiastic partner in this cause. We monitor and combat local and national media on fairness; we conduct voter-registration drives; we address gay and lesbian family issues, such as the freedom to marry, on a local and national level; we lead hate-crimes education through tracking, reporting and publicizing; we participate in demonstrations of mourning and outrage; we educate our community's youth in leadership, lobbying and civil rights advocacy through Youth Lobby Day; we support other community leaders and other activists in the greater metro area as they participate in the political process; we involve individuals with HIV/AIDS in lobbying legislators on AIDS Lobby Day; and we play a central role in the creation of statewide political advocacy coalitions and groups.
Ultimately, our efforts to gain civil rights in this country hinge upon our ability to fight all of these battles, big and small, together.
--Gwenn A. Baldwin
L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center
In order to be credible, political analysis must be independent, based upon facts rather than unsupported assertions. The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center's record as a leading grassroots and activist organization speaks for itself. Without exception, the negative comments about the center in Douglas Sadownick's article were made by people closely associated with AIDS Healthcare Foundation executive director Michael Weinstein.
Also, the L.A. Weekly was completely irresponsible in allowing Sadownick's article to contain the unrefuted allegation that my campaign for the Elected Charter Reform Commission was "in the closet." I ran my campaign for that volunteer office by expressly stating that I believed it was critical for the gay and lesbian community to have its own seat at the charter-reform table. Second, my responses during that campaign to the lengthy L.A. Weekly questionnaire unequivocally established that I was completely out about my sexual orientation and my work at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center.
If you can't get the facts "straight," at least get them right.
--Lorri L. Jean
Executive Director, 19931999
L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center
Regarding the cover story on gay and lesbian activism, we hope the Weekly will continue to actively cover stories about this community. It is easier to get the whole picture if the coverage is regular, rather than trying to cover the entire spectrum of such a large and varied community in the occasional story. Even the best writer cannot hope to do a comprehensive job that way. It isn't just "activists" who have to stay active.