WHICH WAY GAY L.A.?
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.
–Peter Cashman, Miki Jackson, Morris Kight, Cesar Portillo, Michael Weinstein
Los Angeles â
GOOD ON PAPER
Regarding Bill Light's piece on the Long Beach breakwater [“Shore Wars,” May 2127], Mike Murphy's heart is in the right place, but he needs to do more research. Yes, opening up the harbor will help flush those nasty waters that come down the L.A. River, and it will increase the surf. But bring back the sand it won't. Up and down the coast of Southern California, we've dinked around with the system enough that most beaches have sand-replenishment programs. Most of the rivers that used to bring sandy material from the mountains to the beaches have been dammed at some point in their path to the ocean. Debris catch basins in the mountains that keep people from being killed by landslides and mudflows do a great job at keeping hill slides from going far. And concreting our riverbeds eliminates still more sources of sandy sediment.
I don't mean to put a total damper on the whole idea. I grew up on the peninsula, and there's nothing I'd like to see more than less trash on the beach and some real surf. But it's not as easy as pulling down the rocks.
Thank you for Sara Catania's piece on KPCC and Larry Mantle [“Air Power,” May 2127], who provide an important voice in the San Gabriel (and, for that matter, the Crescenta) Valley. The news that a controversy over priorities clouds the station's mission at present is news we need to know. One cannot divine from a short “issue-spotting” piece whether the various trade-offs in the Minnesota Public Radio proposed transaction outweighed the economic and exposure advantages of the deal. I must respectfully disagree with Ms. Catania's assumption that the job titles of the station's board-appointed committee somehow predetermine their devotion to public radio. Still, many of us care very deeply that Mr. Mantle and KPCC stand astride this important crossroad, and we are indebted to Ms. Catania for bringing the matter to light.
–Robert H. Nunnally Jr.
I have enjoyed Mr. Mantle's Air Talk since 1985, but this latest controversy has left me unmoved. Yes, I tuned into KPCC on May 19 and heard his “You won't have Larry Mantle to kick around anymore” speech. I listened as his voice rose from a quavering tone of regret and then took on an edge of simmering, righteous indignation.
The trouble is that we've heard it all before. Let's face it, Larry has threatened to retire from show business more times than Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and David Bowie combined. May I respectfully remind Mr. Mantle that many of us work for less-than-spectacular salaries in schools and libraries and local city-government positions? We do it because we feel as though we are making a contribution to our community, and we do it without turning into martyrs.
A MAN OF DISTINCTIONS
Was Harold Meyerson really the only participant in the recent Nation/KPFK “teach-in” on Kosovo who was actually capable â of making distinctions between this war and Vietnam, between humanitarian and imperialistic motives, between just and unjust wars? I agree with him that the war is being executed ham-handedly. However, I also believe it was right for NATO to act, and that this represents a new era, also seen in the Pinochet extradition.
That Marc Cooper and KPFK are still reacting, still being knee-jerk about virtually all U.S. government policies, shows a rigidity of thinking that is precisely why there's virtually no progressive movement in the U.S. today. I've given up on Cooper, but I'm astonished that The Nation isn't including other views (e.g., those of progressives such as Susan Sontag, people from the Human Rights Watch, etc.) holding that the NATO action was justified. From what's been said in promos (except for Meyerson), it sounds like a stacked deck. How arrogant. How passé.
Re: Dave Shulman's “Everybody Must Get Hestoned” [May 2127], could some sociologist offer a satisfactory explanation as to why media people as a group can be characterized as the most phobic and at the same time least knowledgeable when the subject is firearms? Maybe I am looking for a complicated explanation when a simple one along the lines of “The majority of media people are political liberals” would suffice.
The Weekly and the Los Angeles Times apparently have a few things in common. Both underestimate the number of readers who are rational, responsible gun owners. And both do their best to ignore the lessons that history and current world events provide . . . witness Kosovo. Those lessons prompted the framers of our Constitution to address what some people in our government (hey, Bill, that's you and your flunky Janet) would call an “insignificant and currently irrelevant” political freedom, codified in what is known as the Second Amendment. Get a cuppa joe and wake up, you media types. Or rather, should I say take two aspirin and see the doctor in the morning?
Manohla Dargis' review of Election [April 2329] was at once informative, touching, insightful, whimsical and, perhaps, in the style of the movie itself, just plain human. It's good to know there are writers out there who can, well, write — and with aplomb. I recommend all efforts to keep her at your mag. Throw money, stock options, corner office, free Starbucks at her, if only to not lose her to Time or Newsweek.
Send letters to the editor to: L.A. Weekly, P.O. Box 4315, L.A., CA 90078. Or fax us at (323) 465-3220. Or e-mail us at email@example.com. Letters, which must be typewritten and include a daytime telephone number for verification, may be edited for purposes of space or clarity.