By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The penis on the cover of your Queer Issue [July 2] was a kick in the stomach. I'm a young lesbian who has spent many long, hard years finding a place in the sun. Gay Pride weekend is a time of sunlight and warmth for me, one of the times when I feel included and celebrated, so I was hoping the Voice would reflect this. Though there were bright spots in the issue, such as the poetic "Baby Outs Me" by Laura Conaway, your cover blotted out a little of my pride weekend sunshine.
FATHERS KNOW BEST
I was moved by Laura Conaway's article "Baby Outs Me." Conaway expresses brilliantly how I have felt ever since I knew my partner and I would be fathers to three little girls. He teases me because when people ask, "Which one is the father?" I practically shout, "We both are!" Our children will never see us hesitate, never sense embarrassment or reticence from us. Thank you for explaining better than I can why this is so important, not for me but for our children.
PUBLIC SEX, MY ASS!
Re Steve Weinstein's "The Return of Public Sex" [July 2]: How does having to submit to a panel of judges for advance approval, then paying $20 to enter a hotel room or apartment before having sex count as "public"? I guess Giuliani's anti-sex efforts have affected even the memory of what public sex can be! Public sex should be in public, like a park, rest room, or subway stationnot behind closed doors! (A curtain, maybe!)
I love Pat Califia, but I am disappointed that in the article "T4U" [July 2] he chalks up his new manly desires to the chemical effects of testosterone. By doing so, Califia reinforces the biological determinism he seeks to challenge. If there's one thing I've learned from the queer movement, it's that hormones are not the only cause of who we are or what we want. For example, maybe just knowing he's taking the drug gives Califia license to perform a more masculine role, to lose those carefully taught feminine inhibitions about gratification. Many women sit at work horny as hell, but wouldn't dream of getting sucked off on their way home because they don't see it as a possibility. I'm sure Califia understands the distinction; I just wish he'd said it.
MACHO CUM MACHO
Richard Goldstein's "The Myth of Gay Macho" [July 2] perplexed me. He seems to think that many gay men are hiding from their true selves by adopting a straight form of masculinity and that if freed from such restraints we'd be mincing queens, finger-snapping our way down Fifth Avenue. I would counter that Goldstein is buying into the straight idea of homosexuality, i.e., fey, hairless little boys who can't throw a ball, and who talk several octaves higher than our mothers.
Goldstein's assertion that so-called "homocons" want gay men to "hang with straight men, join a rugby league, take testosterone . . . and start identifying with the aggressor" is nonsense. Have you been to a trendy straight nightspot lately? Most of the men look like they could fit right into any of the more fabulous gay night spots. Is it sooo hard to accept that the majority of gay men are simply men first and gay second?
Dr. Mark Milton
Nyack, New York
Richard Goldstein replies: I never said you had to be a fairy to be authentically gay. I did say that most gay people are flexible when it comes to gender presentation. Try ityou'll like it.
GAY OLD TIME
Michael Musto's column in the Queer Issue is the best damn thing he has ever done. I am going to send copies to every gay and straight person I know. After 83 years, I felt so wonderful reading it. It made me proud to be gay, and I will march down Fifth Avenue with a smile on my face.
World War II Veteran
Re Allen Barra's article "Nil and Void: Soccer Mania? Give Me a Red Card" [July 9]: "Nil" and "void" are good words to describe what I think of Barra's opinions about soccer. In his rejection of the sport, he is acting as ignorantly as the so-called "soccer bullies" he refers to who supposedly want to force it on other people.
Allen Barra's "Nil and Void" was shallow and insipid. Is it really that hard to discover what is the most popular sport in Muslim countries before rushing in with a gratuitous comment on stone throwing? Ought one to reflect on the metaphors of American football, replete with the linguistics of war, and declare it indicative of a warmongering psychosis?
Re Allen Barra's article "Nil and Void": I'm a six-one, 195-pound "soccer nerd" who can run games on any basketball court, bench-press over my weight, and run five miles without passing out. I don't play soccer because I couldn't get picked for anything else. I do it because I like it. Why do all you bloated, pasty sportswriters need to give your two cents on the World Cup? Bring in some people who can discuss the sport intelligently. Until then, thank God for the Internet.
Allen Barra sinks boorishness to a new low with his anti-soccer rant. How appropriate for a Yankee fan.
Plainview, New York
Geoffrey Gray ["Fighting the Great 8," villagevoice.com] mentions that the recent G-8 summit was located in "the remote . . . ski town of Kananaskis, Canada, where the outrage [was] expected to take a milder form."
True, but not because "Canadian activists, as opposed to their European comrades, are a softer breed." The real issue was that a cordon of police and armed forces kept activists, and everyone else, miles from the summit site (at a cost of U.S. $200 million). So, as Gray reports, some protesters met in Ottawa, which is 1500 miles awaynot exactly "nearby." I guess they figured it was close enough. Is that familiar thinking?
Geoffrey Gray replies: Kudos to my Canadian comrade for pointing out my geographical blunder. However, my jab at the "softer" forms of your countrymen's protesting style was not inferred from the massive security force at hand; rather, from the massive knitting display in the streets of your capital.
Reading the lead item in James Ridgeway's Mondo Washington column on the lack of preparedness for a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. ["Fleeing the Fourth," July 9], I did not recognize my city at all. While Washington is undeniably lacking in infrastructure, Ridgeway was incorrect in some of his statements in regard to the D.C. Metro. One of the stops he mentioned, Dupont Circle, has been my Metro stop for the past two years. Not once have I been stalled or "trapped" due to construction. Also, did Ridgeway interview any riders or did he come up with the amusing nickname "the Kursk" all by himself?
WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK
The concern identified by Geoffrey Gray that whistle-blowers are under attack ["Code of Quiet," June 25] may continue to grow with proposed homeland security legislation. The bill would allow the new agency's director to waive all employee protection in cases of whistle-blowing. However, the necessity of such a provision may be appreciated when viewed in the context of the war on terror. Lower-level employees are not informed of entire operations, and whistle-blowing could thus endanger national security if an employee falsely believes something's gone awry. A sensible way to protect national security would be to have independent counsel to whom employees could take their concerns if they feel management is not receptive.
Re Paul Moses's article "The Paper of Wreckage" [June 25]: Being a member of the Castle Coalition, a group formed by the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Justice specifically to fight eminent domain, I got involved in the New York Times case, interviewed most of the land, building, and business owners threatened by the paper's action, and encouraged them to fight for their rights.
Fighting eminent domain on a grassroots level costs less and is frequently more effective than fighting in court. Some options are holding protests, writing letters to editors, speaking before community boards, and posting notices. More people would join the fight if they understood what eminent domain is. When posed as a question, the issue is clear: How would you feel if the government took your property and gave it to someone else whether you liked it or not?
To be constitutional, a taking under eminent domain must be for a public purpose and the owners must receive just compensation. The Times action fails both criteria.
Allen St. John's article "His Backhand Needs Work" [July 2] was well written and well documented, but I disagree with his conclusion. Just because the Williams sisters serve at a higher mph than John McEnroe doesn't make their serve more effective. (Is a pitcher who throws 93 mph necessarily better than a pitcher who throws 83 mph?) Also, McEnroe used to regularly beat players who served harder than the WilliamsesColin Dibley, Kevin Curran, and Roscoe Tanner, to name a few. Granted, his 40-year-old legs aren't what they were, but he won't be playing an entire tournament. Besides, Venus and Serena would have to deal with Mac at the net. No woman player can put pressure on them like that.
I wouldn't pay a nickel to see Tyson-Lewis on Pay-Per-View, but by golly I would fork over $55 to see McEnroe-Williams.
Allen St. John's assertion that John McEnroe could beat the Williams sisters only "in his dreams" is confusing. Much of his article suggests the opposite. If Kaarsten Braasch, ranked No. 200 in the world, beat Venus and Serena so easily, why couldn't McEnroe?
Also, St. John's references to the equal-pay issue for male and female players lacks perspective. John McEnroe has stated many times that women's professional tennis is more interesting than the men's game. However, St. John ignores a significant aspect of this debate: In Grand Slam events, men play best-of-five set matches, while the women play best-of-three. Women's matches are routinely completed in less than one hour; men's matches often extend for more than three.
Does this justify different pay scales for men and women? Not necessarily. But it is an important element in the equation.
Lawrence Jeziak, TV Writer
Rye, New York
Allen St. John replies: Turn on a Borg-McEnroe match on ESPN Classic and see for yourself how much tennis has changed in 20 yearsit's Wee Willie Keeler dead-ball baseball compared to a Hack Wilson-style slugfest. Which is why a middle-aged McEnroe couldn't beat Braaschor Venus. And remember that sports is entertainmentfigure skaters make more in four minutes than Iditarod mushers do in 10 daysand the women's two-of-three format is actually better for television scheduling.
There are three factual errors in Krista Garcia's Close-Up column on Sunset Park [June 25]. Margaret Sanger is buried in Fishkill, New York, not in Green-Wood Cemetery. Mae West is buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, not in Green-Wood Cemetery. And the highest point in Brooklyn is Battle Hill in Green-Wood Cemetery, not in the park from which the neighborhood takes its name.
Alfred Kohler, Tour Guide
Thank you for Thulani Davis's moving tribute to June Jordan [July 2]. I saw nothing about her death on television or radio, just obituaries in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. There were no retrospectives of her career, her impact, her vision. So I will re-read her poems and essays, finally settle down to read her autobiography, and reflect on what I might do to live up to and build upon her legacy.