Issue:  Vol. 46 / No. 26 / 30 June 2016

Letters to the Editor

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There's no LGBT community

There is no LGBT community. It's dead, strangled by fascist social justice warriors who are just as anti-intellectual as Donald Trump's populist supporters. I was at the vigil the Sunday night after the Orlando massacre. I was disgusted by the behavior of the people who booed Mayor Ed Lee off the stage even though he was there in support of our community in a time of pain and grief, and is more often a champion than a foe for LGBT constituents.

I was even more disgusted (but not surprised) when Lee, state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and Supervisor Scott Wiener were booed off the stage at the Trans March even though they have all done remarkable work on our behalf. It seems they haven't eradicated homelessness so they were not good enough for self-appointed "leaders" who complained those in the crowd were being used by politicians as props. What are those self-appointed leaders doing if not using those same people as props? Leno got gender identity added to the state Fair Employment and Housing Act. What have any of these screamers in the crowd ever done for trans people except censor others in their name?

I'm tired of self-righteous queers who are no better than Trump in that they only want to divide and never unify. The San Francisco left are just as intolerant as the Mississippi right, and their list of "enemies" gets longer every year. Israel is always wrong, even though it is the only country in the Middle East that supports LGBT rights and offers asylum to gay Palestinians threatened with death and violence. The police are always wrong. Landlords are always wrong. New housing is always wrong. The politics of ACT UP used so effectively against our true enemies are now being used against supporters who don't meet the impossible standards of perfection demanded by these haters. I'm 56 and was around to see the murder of Harvey Milk, the beginning of the AIDS crisis, the brutal murders of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena. I felt a sense of unity through those events, but it is gone now. All I see is a separation into smaller and smaller self-involved groups who judge and berate and see enemies everywhere. Even the horrific massacre in Orlando was not enough to bring us together for even one night.

Community is a joke when elected LGBT leaders and straight supporters are the enemy. Don't let the loudest and most strident people speak for the rest of us. If you see something, say something to counter this rising tide of intolerance. If we do, then maybe we can bring the LGBT community back from the dead.


Joe Barrett

San Francisco


Social change doesn't come easy

Most social change has begun with the act of a single person like Rosa Parks' refusal to sit in the back of the bus. From that act a movement develops, and movements are usually led by a man, or men, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. The experience in our community is different. Our drive to secure basic civil rights started at the grassroots but not at a single moment. It started in San Francisco when transvestites stood up to the cops at Compton's Cafeteria. It started in Los Angeles when John Rechy published City of Night. It started in New York when drag queens took on the cops at the Stonewall Inn.

We saw it again during the AIDS crisis as individual efforts to provide support and funds for care and treatment for our dying friends and partners popped up overnight across the country. Perhaps because we, as a community, have never given much credence to leadership by the few we have relied on our creative talents and common sense to do what had to be done simply because it had to be done wherever it was needed.

As I watched members of the House at their sit-in at the Capitol last Wednesday, I had two thoughts. First, it took the murder of 49 people at a gay nightclub to spur a stronger reaction than other mass murders. (Not something we should pat our backs over but I suspect because we are still fresh in the minds of the public because of the rapidity of our drive to achieve equal rights it made it more real when we were murdered senselessly.) Second, I thought if this had been strictly an LGBT issue that caused the sit-in at the Capitol members of our community across the country would spontaneously organize sit-ins in the offices of members of the House who had voted against gun regulation. Who knows? That still might happen.


Chuck Forester

San Francisco

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