Letters to the Editor

  • Tuesday July 4, 2006
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Remembering Eric Rofes

With the untimely and unexpected death of longtime gay activist Eric Rofes, San Francisco has lost a truly wonderful activist, organizer, researcher, and a dear friend ["Author, activist Eric Rofes dies," June 29].

In my own life, Eric was a mentor and role model. He was, without a doubt, one of the most influential thinkers in my life. Eric was one of the few gay male voices in America speaking progressive values to action. He was an unabashed feminist. His book, Dry Bones Breathe: Gay Men Creating Post-AIDS Identities and Cultures, changed the way I thought about HIV/AIDS and gay men. He never settled for simple answers. He always demanded complexity. He always challenged me to think more deeply in my own work and research on HIV/AIDS and gay men. For all that he did for me, for all that he did for gay men, and for all he did for HIV-positive people, we will all be forever indebted to him. His death leaves a great void in our community.

I will miss him dearly.

Trevor Hoppe

San Francisco

Rofes never gave up

Eric never gave up on gay men. He saw us as a community, as a people, through many troubling times. He saw us as diverse, sexual, good.

Eric was capable of complex thought. He was consumed by curiosity, the mark of a good teacher. He believed that things could be different, that we have a part to play in making the world better.

He valued his sobriety, because it allowed him to get on with his work and his life.

This summer he was excited about his writing sabbatical in Provincetown. He always had things to do. This was a life ended too soon, but fully lived.

Eric was part of our first generation of leadership, and he was committed to passing the torch to a new generation. His books, his relationships, his life, still speak. How we remember Eric offers us an opportunity not only to reflect upon the past, but to assess where we are now, as individuals and as a people, to re-set our collective compass, to ask ourselves what we truly value, and set out to do that work.

Steve Carson

San Francisco

UCSC chancellor's death

Not only is UCSC Chancellor Denice Dee Denton's apparent suicide shocking, but so are the comments by Bay Area AIDS activist Stephen LeBlanc ["UCSC chancellor jumps to her death," June 29] . First, the principle source of information regarding the recent compensation scandals at the University of California was uncovered by the San Francisco Chronicle, boasting one of the most liberal editorial boards in California, so the unsubstantiated speculation that Denton's role in the scandal was propagated by homophobic conservative politicians rings hollow. Second, LeBlanc's statement regarding other universities' policies regarding nepotism is immaterial. The University of California, unlike most other universities with which it competes, is accountable to the public's trust as a taxpayer subsidized entity and the university acknowledged as much by enacting public disclosure policies that the university itself subsequently ignored. As a recent graduate of the University of California at Hastings College of the Law, I know that tuition went from under $10,000 the year before I entered to more than $22,000. According to sources quoted in the Chronicle , the total amount paid in compensation to by the University of California to its top administrators in violation of its own policy (which was the result of a similar scandal in the 1990s) would have more than offset the fee hikes imposed on the entire university system in the last two years. Not even arguing that the compensation exposed by the Chronicle was excessive, the fact is that the media was responding to lack of transparency and apparent waste of taxpayer resources.

Our hearts should go out to the friends and family of Denton because suicide is a tragedy, often precipitated by inability to deal with stressful events. However, rather than watching out for boogey-man conservative politicians, in this case, the taxpayers should watch their wallets and demand the transparency that the University of California previously promised and did not perform.

Richard John Nelson, J.D.

San Francisco

Pink Saturday hijinks

I wish I could agree with SFPD Captain John Goldberg's assessment that Pride was a great weekend as reported in the B.A.R. ["Pride seemed calm before the storm," June 29]. I'd like to cite three examples that seem to fly in the face of what one would assume would be a successful Pink Saturday:

1) The attack upon and injury to Special Patrol Officer Jane Warner at a business on Upper Market Street by eight self-identified members of the LGBT community was an outrage.

2) The incredible chutzpah demonstrated by a well-known Castro merchant in re-opening his shuttered (and I thought sold) 18th Street business for the express purpose of selling alcohol out the door. And, his having to be told to close at 1 a.m. – a full hour after the posted time for the end of Pink Saturday – a time frame other merchants faithfully observed.

3) The forced closure of a 17th Street business by the authorities for liquor sale violations. Interestingly, this same merchant experienced this type of closure a couple Halloweens ago; after which he promised to faithfully abide by the law.

I was president of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro during the time the police and city first proposed making Halloween an alcohol-free event and I took great pains to lobby on behalf of the merchants who would lose alcohol sales as a result of this change to allow them to keep alcohol sales during Pink Saturday and New Year's Eve. However, it appears we are fast approaching losing control of Pink Saturday like we did Halloween over the twin issues of outsiders and alcohol on the streets of Upper Market and Castro. What once was a reasonably quiet and well-attended event is now on the verge of becoming just another headache for the neighborhood.

Commerce, for those of us who do not sell alcohol or food, ceases mid-afternoon on Pink Saturday with the prohibition against parking and the attendant towing of vehicles. I think we are all willing to live with this fact provided the rest of the event remains one of which we can be proud.

I'd like to suggest that MUMC, Supervisor Bevan Dufty, the Sisters, SFPD, and other stakeholders begin dialogue now to ensure Pink Saturday remains the gay, hip, and safe event it always has been before, like Halloween, it spins out of our neighborhood's control.

Patrick Batt

San Francisco

Thanks for Pride

I didn't get to see the parade festivities until I watched them on KRON when I got home, as I was involved in a volunteer assignment. In truth, I'd grown bored over the years so volunteering was a measured respite of sorts from the din (and smell of the crowd.) Besides, the personal losses over the years have been too great to get my head around partying, so frankly, I couldn't. Once on my sofa with my two wonderful cats, (supported by PAWS) however, I became deeply moved several times during the recorded presentation by the depth and breadth of the passion, joy, and color I witnessed. How magnificent we all are really! So very many of us, committed to ending discrimination and the scourge of AIDS, are building bridges, networking, creating a life worth living. Thanks to so many of those involved in the struggle, and present on Sunday, including the AIDS service organizations and individuals, past and present. I for one can in truth state that AIDS is no longer a death sentence for me. Instead, it is an acronym meaning: And I'm Doing Swell!

So, a heartfelt thanks to everyone for being there to celebrate and enjoy peacefully the diversity and our collective communities. Thank you for "being there" for me till now. I am proud to (still) be here among you.

Jon-Edmond Abraham

San Francisco

Appreciates arts writer

For some time, I have been meaning to express to the B.A.R. how much I look forward to and enjoy Tavo Amador's reviews. He is a gentleman that has a special talent for writing. Whether it is regarding a classic movie, an actor or actress, or even a musical star, he has that special depth and picturesque quality and understanding of whatever he writes about.

Being in the entertainment field for many years, I feel that my assessment of his special writing talent is valid. I have often thought that Tavo seems to have lived forever to have such a wonderful insight on what he writes about. His articles clearly show that he does his homework. The B.A.R. must be very proud to have Mr. Amador as a major contributor to the arts and entertainment.

Scott Reed

Sonora, California

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