It's A Boy!
After reading Amy Taubin's review of The Brandon Teena Story, in which she continually refers to Brandon [who was born with female sex organs but felt like a man] as "she," I'm so angry I could spit! ["Splitting Image," September 29]
Brandon was in the early stages of transition, and believe me, that is not easy, especially in a small town. I went through the first seven years of my transition in Indiana, and I felt like a sideshow freak. In a small town everyone knows you, and you're often the only one of your kind. Hormones were hard to come by, and I wasn't able to afford electrolysis or surgery until I came to New York. I finally got my sex change through the grace of God, and by working for escort services.
Taubin says Brandon "was extremely popular with young women, some of whom were so charmed by her gentleness...that they were more than willing to accept her various storiesthat her strap-on was the real thing, or that she was undergoing a sex-change treatment. Once involved, it was hard for them to admit that Brandon was femalebecause of what that would mean about them." It sounds as if Taubin doesn't believe Brandon was really planning to have an operation and that these women are lesbians in big denial.
Amy Taubin replies: I thought hard about what pronoun to use. Although Xandria says Brandon was in the early stages of a sex change, nothing in the film confirms that. The tragedy is that Brandon's life was cut short be fore Brandon had much of a chance to act on his or her desires, whatever they were. I did not imply that Brandon's girlfriends were "lesbians in big denial." If there's one thing the film shows, it's the fluidity of desire, and how terrifying that is for anyone raised to believe that heterosexuality and homosexuality are absolutes.
Rebecca Segall exposed some of the changes in Lubavitch in her article "Holy Daze" [October 6], even though the story only focused on how young Hasidim are coping (or not coping) with the changes.
There are others in the community for whom Gimmel Tammuz [the date Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Schneerson died] had a profound effect. For example, two yeshivas (religious schools) have split over the messianic issue discussed in the article.
It hit me very hard. A Lubavitcher baaltshuva [returnee to Orthodox Judaism] of nine years, my faith began to unravel the year after the Rebbe's death. It was very rough spiritually, and many difficulties I had with the religion, which had been buried by my faith in the Rebbe, came to light after his death. Two years ago, I lost my faith completely, and last year, after almost suffering a nervous breakdown, I left my wife and children. I still live close to Crown Heights, and see my children weekly.
Most people in my position felt that they made the right decision in following the Rebbe, and were sure of the fulfillment of his messianic prom ises. Now that those promises have faded like the yellow plastic signs wel coming the Rebbe as Melech HaMoshiach (the Messianic King), I'm sure many others are having doubts, but are afraid to talkor even thinkabout them.
I found Karla Jay's "Queers Ahoy!" [September 29] very interesting, especially in light of Sharon Lerner's August 19, 1997, article "Sex Trips for Boys," in which I and my company, Big Apple Oriental Tours, were the target of feminist venom.
Lerner's article sided with the accusations of the feminist extremist group Equality Now, which accused "sex-tour" companies like mine of promoting prostitution and pedophilia, and downplaying the threat of AIDS to sex workers.
In fact, companies like mine merely send unattached heterosexual mensome of whom Lerner suggest ed may be "desperate, hostile losers"to East Asia in search of companionship and marriage with consenting adult partners.
However, Jay's piece introduces us to tour operator Hanns Ebensten, who sends gay tour members to Thai land, where "the sex is very readily available," and to Egypt, where "all these selucca men [sailboat operators] are very agreeable and like to earn a little extra money in a certain way." In Bangkok, his groups "go to those gay pleasure palaces where the boys parade around...."
Gays and lesbians have the same right to seek and find personal fulfillment on vacation as us heteros. If the Voice thinks it elevates the image of gay life by trashing heterosexuals, it is doing more harm than good.
Bellerose, New York
No Trusto Musto
I couldn't agree less with Michael Musto's criticism of Keri Russell, the actress who plays the title role in Felicity [La Dolce Musto, October 6]. His question, "...do you really trust any one named Kelli anyway?" proves, in more ways than one, you can't trust anyone named Michael Musto.
Englewood, New Jersey
Due to an editing error, the wrong location was given for a Labor Day parade referred to in a letter from New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi last week. The parade was held in Broad Channel, Queens.
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