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Party Time? Not Really

October 02, 1994

I enjoyed Joe Morgenstern's article on gay conservatives ("Another Gay Party Line," Sept. 4), especially the mention of Luke Sissyfag's important contribution to American politics.

I am straight, white, male and Protestant, so I'm technically part of the nation's power structure. Though I consider voting a religious duty, I often have problems with it, because there are so many candidates about whom I know nothing other than their names.

Since I don't try to pass as a conservative and I do believe in equal political opportunity, I try to vote for names that indicate minorities, a procedure that's not always effective. Even some women have names that read like names of what former L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates once referred to as "normal people."

If candidates would choose a ballot name judiciously, much as they would select a stage name, they'd make it easier for me to decide whom to vote for. As for Luke, anybody willing to call himself Sissyfag in our great, big, strong, manly country has my vote.

Jack Wright

Marina del Rey

*

Morgenstern's article was a surreal trip, particularly Ritch Colbert's deluded musing that gays and lesbians should be Republicans, "given the tenets of the party regarding . . . rights of privacy and personal freedom . . . ."

No, Ritch! What the Republicans deeply revere are the rights of property and business. No vast armies of conservative Republicans stormed the barricades of racial injustice during the '60s. And they sure aren't leading the fight for gay rights in the '90s, once again a cause of those damn liberals.

And there is something tragic about the five smug, starched-and-khaki'd gays in your picture. They remind me of the photos of those few naive Jews who faced the Nazi hatred directed at them in the late '30s with eyes that pleaded: "Talk to us. Let us find areas of agreement. Don't hate us. Don't fear us. We are just like you. "

It didn't work then.

It won't work now.

Mark Donnelly

Los Angeles

*

Morgenstern quotes Robert Dawidoff as saying, in reference to early activists in the movement, "It took guts for the Mattachine people and the Stonewall people and the odd Quentin Crisps of the world," and "(writer Bruce) Bawer is angry with people who made him possible, made us possible."

Angry? On the contrary, in the New Republic essay that Morgenstern cites, I describe the Mattachine Society pioneers and the Stonewall rioters as heroes; my point was that Stonewall began a process that brought gays some civil rights but didn't increase acceptance. That will be won in the future not by a Stonewall-born utopianism but by activism that may have to look to pre-Stonewall models and recognize political action as only part of the solution.

My problem is not with the "odd Quentin Crisps"--I admire Crisp's guts--but with the widespread tendency to present eccentric, exotic individuals as representative of all gay people. Such narrow, misleading images of an extremely diverse population only serve to perpetuate misunderstanding and to reinforce stereotypes.

BRUCE BAWER

New York City

*

Members of the religious right who reside in the GOP seem to work tirelessly in an effort to keep gay people from having what they refer to as "special rights." These include the right to employment, to housing and to medical insurance that we have the money to pay for but are denied nonetheless.

The GOP hierarchy may claim to be embarrassed by the view of its ultra-powerful fringe membership, but its main concern is to keep its fingers on the financial resources of that group. Until the Republicans force the religious right out into its own politico-religious party, saying that gay people logically should be Republicans is like saying that an illegal immigrant should logically seek employment with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

William S. Simmons

Sherman Oaks

*

I was left with the conclusion that the people profiled should go to therapy, not politics.

David Reed

Venice

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