Letters To The Editor

  • Tuesday March 7, 2006
Share this Post:

Situation in Eastern Europe

I was impressed with Lisa Keen's article ["Gays face hostilities in Eastern Europe," February 23], as I deal with LBGT people from Eastern Europe, and have noticed how little there is in the media about the lack of liberalization on sexual issues there. Things are better politically, in many countries they're better economically (in others worse), and generally openness is up. This makes it seem like it ought to be freer for gays. However, instead, the governments are not interested in controlling violence against sexual minorities. The same vitriol is spit at Jews, Gypsies, and gays (sound familiar?). It's scary.

The only way things will get better is if international pressure makes it happen. The European countries are acting. We need to make our government include rights of sexual minorities in our discussions of human rights issues. The subject seems to have been dropped from State Department human rights reports.

Thanks for covering the subject.

David S. Wright

San Francisco

Homophobia in Eastern Europe

As a lesbian who has escaped from a very oppressive situation in Belarus, I was happy to read Lisa Keen's article. Many Americans are not aware of how much the homophobia of the Soviet era has continued in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. This is particularly true in my country, where the government has suppressed any kind of gay activism at all, together with most political opposition. The homophobia is so bad that even the human rights organizations don't want anything to do with us. I hope that international pressure will eventually force liberalization, but right now, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. I hope the readers of this paper will support the efforts of Human Rights Watch and other organizations that are fighting the good fight. We need your support.

Hanna Machulskaya

Santa Cruz, California

Bi characters in Oscar films

I read Adam Sandel's recent article ["Cowboys, Capote and trannies, oh my!" March 2], and was disappointed by his assertion that "five of the nominated actors play gay, lesbian, or transgender characters." Where's the bi in that sentence? Many have contended that the characters in Brokeback Mountain are bisexual, not gay; in fact, I published an article about that very idea, in American Sexuality magazine (www.nsrc.sfsu.edu/MagArticle.cfm?Article=554). Also, to my understanding Truman Capote was bisexual, not gay. Journalist Randor Guy has written about Capote's bisexual identity.

If the B.A.R. truly prides itself on serving its bisexual readership and bisexual contributing journalists, as I think it does and should, please remember that bisexuals are as much a part of the Oscars this year as anyone else in our community. Please don't promote the epidemic of bi invisibility that runs all too rampant in the queer press by ignoring the representation of bisexuals in the arts.

Amy Andre

San Francisco

Fatal sunbath in SF's Castro

Back in September 2004, Jay Carbone, 52, was sunbathing nude on the back patio of a Castro gay bar. Then a prude complained to a bartender.

Soon, Carbone was furiously charging toward the prude, who defended himself. Carbone died. Recently a jury refused to convict the prude of involuntary manslaughter ["SF man acquitted in Pendulum murder case," March 2].

Carbone's threatening behavior was wrong. Reasonable self-defense is a right. But there was nothing wrong with Carbone's nude sunbathing. If the prude hadn't tried to censor his self-expression, Carbone would have lived.

Like racism and homophobia, nudophobia can kill.

Tortuga Bi Liberty

Senior Unlimited Nudes

San Francisco

Offensive headline

What journalistic accolade does one receive for the most offensive headline published in a gay newspaper? Surely the B.A.R . won hands down for its headline "Gay man jumps from Golden Gate," [February 23]. That this tragedy is newsworthy solely because the deceased is gay, as the headline clearly suggests (and the following story demonstrates), offends not only one's intelligence, but also one's very humanity. For shame.

Karl von Uhl

San Francisco

Insensitive sensationalism

I was disappointed to see that my dear friend Ken Bostock's tragic death made the front page of Bay Area Reporter before his family even placed an obituary in local papers. Perhaps the B.A.R. seeks to reap the benefits of sensationalistic journalism through increased advertising revenue.

The details of Ken's tragic death and the background story (which caused him and his loved ones so much pain) did not merit front page coverage, embellished by a grainy still image from a now-dated surveillance videotape.

Ken was a great guy and a good friend to many of us in the community. He was also a very private person. He deserved better than to be exploited (and disrespected) by the B.A.R. for a cheap front-page attention grabber.

Paul Karasoff

San Francisco

Shining a light on St. Mary's

Kudos to Zak Szymanski and the B.A.R . for the fine story highlighting the work done at St. Mary's HIV clinic ["HIV clinic escapes closure," February 23]. I have been a patient there since 1986. In the early days of AIDS/HIV when patients such as myself had no insurance and plenty to fear, a kind nurse named Joan Schneider held my hand and brought my into the health system with no judgment and plenty of love. I consider her one of the great unsung heroes of San Francisco.

Since then, the care there has been excellent, and sustained. From nurses such as Joan Brasan to the administrative hands of Ernest Somers to the thorough and warm doctoring of Lisa Sternman, I (no kidding) often look forward to my visits there. Most importantly, I attribute my long term survival (20 years and counting) to the caring, talented souls of St. Mary's.

Many artists such as myself contribute to the community, but have limited means and no insurance. Without the valued resources at St. Mary's I would not have been able to continue my cultural work in San Francisco. Thanks to the B.A.R.'s story, a little light is now shining on a blessed place and staff. May it shine on.

Marc Huestis

San Francisco

Gays are aware of meth problem

Regarding Rob Akers's recent article about the grant to the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the news seems redundant to me ["GLMA grant to study gay men and meth," February 9].

We are all painfully aware of the number of gay men who regularly use meth when having sex. The scourge of this addiction is evident to anyone who has gone to a sex club, bathhouse, or met someone through an online "dating" service.

We even have invented quaint little names for it, "Tina," "PNP," or "partying." It has become as easy as checking a box and searching for like-minded partners.

In my eyes, the problem of sex and meth in gay men is abundantly clear. What is not is the cure.

GLMA is a public policy and advocacy group; they do not provide health care for individuals. I question if these funds cannot be put to better use in treatment instead of being used for a study.

I applaud more attention being brought to the issue of meth use, and the correlation with HIV infection. However, a number of the questions the study hopes to answer have already been discovered by counselors and health care providers working here and in other metropolitan areas with large gay populations.

Studies are a passive response to a crisis, especially at a time when federal monies for gay and lesbian health care are disappearing.

B.J. Cavnor

Walnut Creek, California

Saddened by Roszak's death

I was saddened to read about the death of John Roszak ["Longtime KQED producer John Roszak dies," February 23].

At least 20 years have passed since Mr. Roszak's "Art Notes" segments aired on KQED. However, what I gained from them is memorable. Before that, I just looked for symbolism in art, and most of it seemed dull.

"Art Notes," and other influences, convinced me of what art is: it's the subtle human quality that the artist puts into the work. Then that quality (or maybe something else) appeals to something human in the people who read, view, or listen to that work. Whether we are creating art or appreciating someone else's, we have an opportunity to learn about ourselves and life in general. It can help teach us empathy.

John Roszak also worked in broadcast news journalism. Each time a commercial station reports a celebrity scandal as news, it should serve as a reminder that more people with Mr. Roszak's sophistication are needed – both in the TV studio and in the audience.

Ann Mason

San Francisco

Support Yeager in South Bay

It is critically important for San Francisco LGBT residents to pay attention to Ken Yeager's campaign for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and support him financially to help him win.

Living in San Francisco, it is sometimes hard for us to imagine a world without openly LGBT elected officials. That world existed just a short 50 miles to the south of us in San Jose and Santa Clara County prior to Yeager's first election in the early 1990s.

Yeager was the first openly LGBT candidate successfully elected in Santa Clara County history and the first LGBT candidate elected to the San Jose City Council in 2000. Yeager won his campaign in 2000 despite homophobic attacks and whisper campaigns.

Yeager is now serving his second and final term on the City Council and he is the leading candidate in the race for the Board of Supervisors. Yeager's campaign has raised the most money and continues to collect important endorsements.

But Yeager needs the financial support of the San Francisco LGBT community to raise the $250,000 needed to run a winning campaign.

San Francisco LGBT elected and community leaders are hosting an event for Yeager's campaign next Wednesday, March 15 at the home of Treasurer Jose Cisneros from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information about the event, please contact Don Cecil at (415) 999-3262 or e-mail [email protected].

To learn more about Yeager or to make a secure online donation, visit www.kenyeager.com.

When one LGBT candidate is elected to public office, no matter where they are, our entire LGBT community wins.

Michael Lauro

San Francisco