Letters To The Editor

  • Tuesday February 7, 2006
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Standing up for all

Matthew Bajko's article claiming that the Board of Supervisors supports a "homophobic cult" strikes me as disingenuous and hypocritical ["Supes support 'homophobic cult,'" February 2] . At one time, all Christians were considered to be members of a cult. To condemn Falun Gong practitioners because their leader thinks LGBT's are demonic is like condemning Catholics because the pope thinks homosexuality is immoral. The Board of Supervisors was expressing support for the right of the Falun Gong to exist free from persecution and discrimination, not its teachings.

The arguments made by Samuel Luo, Thomas Brown, the Gay Asian Pacific Alliance, and the Chinese New Year Parade organizers sound eerily similar to the arguments made by right-wingers who sought to exclude us from St. Patrick's Day parades and deny us equality over the last 20 years: That our agenda is too political, or we would use any support we garnered to "recruit" people into our lifestyle, or perhaps most insulting, that because these parades are family events, we should not be included because we are somehow anti-family.

I find it hard to believe Mr. Luo's claim that the Falun Gong will be able use this resolution to recruit new members, or that it will make it harder for him to convince his family to leave the cult. My mother is a Jehovahs' Witness (also labeled a cult by some), and she doesn't look to the Board of Supervisors for guidance when I try to convince her to choose another religion.

I also take issue with the opinion of LGBT Community Center director Thom Lynch, who questioned whether this is an appropriate issue for the Board of Supervisors to address. San Francisco is home to a large Asian population. If the board can address international issues like the war in Iraq and human rights, how could it possibly ignore allegations of discrimination in its own city against a group of Asian Americans?

A progressive city like San Francisco should be able to reach a compromise. If organizers disliked the fact that Falun Gong members passed out political fliers in their last appearance in the New Year parade, they could have created stricter rules against it. Any organization in violation of those rules could then be barred from future events. To ban this group from the parade because of their beliefs leaves the city open to criticism from the right, because we are engaging in the same tactics they used to discriminate against us.

Kudos to Supervisors Fiona Ma, Bevan Dufty, and Tom Ammiano for having the courage to stand up for the rights of all, not just those with whom they agree.

Christopher King

San Francisco

Gay community has nothing to fear

I find it appalling that some people will distort the simple qi gong teachings of Falun Gong to fulfill personal achievement or please Beijing. Hmm. Calling it a "homophobic cult" is downright degrading and humiliating. It is clear that some people hate Falun Gong so badly that they will not think twice about spreading lies about this meditation practice. This is not surprising as the whole persecution of Falun Gong in China is based on hate propaganda and fabricated stories by the notorious central propaganda department. Over the years this has been the tactics of most dictators for stamping out the undesirables particularly religious groups with the help of overseas consulates and hardcore communists. Ethoscide is the word that springs to mind. The discriminating remarks made by those quoted in the article don't hold any ground, as Falun Gong is not antigay. Other twisted examples of Falun Gong belief system highlighted by Samuel Luo are just showing how this persecution has been exported to America and how people nurture and shamelessly spread those communist lies. On the other hand Falun Gong members makes no bones about telling the truth about how badly their families are tortured in China in an attempt to stop the persecution. This has ticked off the barons of Chinatown in a big way. I am looking forward to a colorful and bright Lunar New Year parade, representative of the Chinese Americans including Falun Gong as participants and gay people.

Marie Beaulieu

Victoria, British Columbia

More on LeatherSIR

I would like to respond to Mr. A.R. Anderson's letter from January 26. I would like to be specific that my comments are directed to Mr. Anderson and not to the leather community of which he believes he speaks. I am neither a member of the leather community nor transgender if that makes any difference. He is correct that members of the leather community are mavericks and bad boys. It is what we love about them. But they have also been marginalized from the mainstream gay community throughout our movement in much the same way the trans community has been.

What is surprising to me the most is that based upon one person's comments about the LeatherSIR/boy contest and a call for dialogue, he viciously attacks an entire community. I was at the sentencing of Gwen Araujo's murderers on January 27. I read Mr. Anderson's letter the night before the sentencing and after I listened to Michael Magidson express no remorse over the killing, I realized that we have work to do in our own community, too.

I do agree that we often migrate to people who are similar to ourselves. The fact that we have a queer rights movement is evidence of that because being queer is sometimes the only thing we have in common. But how can we sue for the right to marry, the right to have equal protection under the law if we don't hold our own community up to the same standard?

I do not believe that Mr. Anderson speaks for 95 percent of the community but I would be naive if I thought he didn't speak for some portion of it. I hope more of the silent majority who feel the way I do lets their voices be heard. And while my trans friends need no protection, I challenge Mr. Anderson. There are many of us who are equally or far more clever than he. If he wants a piece of the trans community, he has to come through us.

Nicholas Hodges, Board Chair

Community United Against Violence

San Francisco

Frustrated over contest coverage

I am dismayed and frustrated that this week there was more attention and buzz around the LGBT community about a leather contest ["Bar says no to LeatherSIR contest," February 2] than about the passing of one of the queer community's biggest allies, Coretta Scott King ["Gays mourn death of Coretta King," February 2].

Mrs. King was far more than a supportive wife to Martin Luther King Jr. She was at his side at all major events in his powerful and all-too-brief time on this planet. And when he was taken from us, Mrs. King took that torch and went further with it than anyone anticipated. And as for her support of the LGBT community, well, here's some of her quotes showing how wonderful an ally she was:

"I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice based on sexual orientation."

"I appeal to everyone who believes in Martin Luther King's dream to make room at the table of brotherhood and sisterhood for lesbian and gay people."

It would better serve the community if we were to drop the drama and take up the torch that has been left by Mrs. King. Instead of looking for more pots to stir up, we can all put our energies toward something productive. There still isn't a cure for AIDS, cancer, hepatitis C, Alzheimer's, or neuropathy. Confused teens are still going out looking to shoot a queer for Christ. Discrimination from the schoolyard to the White House hasn't ended. This city has overwhelming homelessness. Children are not getting the education they need. Meth is ruining the lives of way too many of us. The suicide rate among queer teens is through the roof. And our relationships still don't have the same rights as others in what we call the land of the free. So can we cut the drama and focus on what matters most?

Kelly R. Hart

San Francisco

Pink triangles for all?

In Roberto Friedman's Out There column [January 26] , he criticizes Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine for not disclosing his sexual leanings. Does one's privacy not matter for gay people? Should we all wear pink triangles again? Be it noted that Mr. Levine also did not disclose his phone number or address, does that also concern Mr. Friedman?


Keith Reiter

San Francisco