To The Editor:
If speaking against drugs is heresy, then we are heretics.
Drugs in the gay and lesbian community is a [sic] attempt to control our creativity, our economy, and our mental and physical health. Drugs in the gay community is a tool of oppression not liberation. No one who does drugs is truly free. Instead of freedom, drugs destroy and control every aspect of your life.
The use of drugs to enhance their sexlife or your creativity while destroying your adrenials-kidneys [sic], bones or brain is suicidal and self-defeating. Spiritual development cannot come of this. Street level drugs are too often used by men and women who suffer from family or social rejection because of sexism, racism and homophobia, who have been abused sexually or physically, or by persons who believe these drugs [will] increase their creativity. Instead of relief or solution to oppression and hurt, drug takers repress and avoid direct confrontation with the oppression. Instead of increased creativity, drugs take there [sic] toll physically, emotionally and spiritually.
As much as we try to create good intimate relationships, a strong economy and build community trust and loyalty, drugs make success impossible. As much as we try to heal our body, mind and spirit, the use of recreational drugs prevents it. This means marijuana too.
The gay and lesbian community needs to free itself from the patriarchal, drug cartel. Stop taking drugs. You'll be happier, healthier and live longer and create healthy, happier partnerships and communities.
What kind of freedom is it when we cannot create the kind of supportive relationships and community we need because of this choice of recreation?
--Gays & Lesbians Against Drugs, N.O. Citizens Against Drug Abuse
Re: Police Raid on Bar
Dear Mayor Morial, Councilmember Carter and Superintendent Pennington:
On Thursday evening, June 19, 1997, approximately ten officers of the New Orleans Police Department raided Wolfendales, 834 N. Rampart St. As attorney for the corporation that operates that bar I strenuously protest this outrage.
As all of you know, both Louisiana law and federal constitutional protections require that police officers not detain or question any citizen unless the officers have a reasonable belief that a crime has been, is being or is about to be committed. As all of you also know, both Louisiana law and federal constitutional protections prohibit police officers from searching private areas of a business establishment without a warrant.
Wolfendales is the oldest and most prominent bar in New Orleans that caters to Gay and Bisexual African-American men. It is more than just a bar: for members of this double minority it is a sanctuary and safe place for patrons t o gather and socialize. The New Orleans Police Department well knows these facts. Apparently the New Orleans Police Department has reverted to its bad old ways of raiding Gay bars for no reason other than to harass and intimidate Gay and Bisexual men.
During the raid the police officers took over this establishment. They locked the door and would not let anyone leave. Arriving patrons (who obviously did not know that a raid was in progress) were allowed to enter but not allowed to leave. The police officers required every person in the bar to hand a picture identification card to the officers. The police officers kept those cards, and forced everyone to remain on the premises, until every name was checked through police computers. Only a single patron had any outstanding police warrants, and that warrant was from a state other than Louisiana.
As though this demeaning and humiliating display of naked police authority were not bad enough, the police officers also intimidated the bar manager into opening the bar's locked safe so that the police officers could inspect the contents.
All of these actions are outrageous in a civilized society in 1997. On behalf of Wolfendales, Inc., I respectfully request an official explanation of these events. I also respectfully put all three of you on notice that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community of New Orleans will not sit idly by while the New Orleans Police Department attempts to revert to its archaic policy of police authoritarianism against our community.
I await your responses. Sincerely,
--John D. Rawls
To: Sonny Cleveland;
Re: Great? Southern G & L Festival
Have done some more detective work for you: Primary Promoter/Producers: Mr. Sal Giangrosso @ 455.7677.6285. During a short phone conversation, July 31st, he alluded to his having worked with Artists Against AIDS and other unspecified "AIDs organizations." When pressed as to whether his was specifically a "benefit" event, he was very evasive. He then referred to Ms. Belinda Hernandez @ WWL-TV, 529.4444, as an "organizer" of this event. I have not been able to find the above-named person.
Lastly, Ron and I have closely watched the TV ads, which run mostly during the morning news. Originally, they made no reference to a "benefit," but in the past week have been modified with the following on-screen text: "A Benefit for Artists Against AIDS and Kent House." This change is clearly in response to all of our calls and the questions emerging within the community.
Something surely "smells" bad here. Purely from the point of view of a concert promoter, it would seem highly risky to "compete" with an event such as Southern Decadence, as centered in the Quarter as it is!
And more to the point, bona fide groups such as Artists Against AIDS, would never attempt to draw an audience away from SD, rather they would work within the Quarter and be a part of SD.
I hope we all can continue to work against such schemes as this, and to protect the hard work that the legitimate community groups have and will put into our events. Regards,
--Christian Kean Johnson
I have come to believe that often times there is opportunity in many of the crises in our lives. Crises can motivate us to change the way we view our world, or even more, to change the world. Recently the gay and lesbian community experienced a crisis, as Andrew Cunanan became one of the most wanted people in America. I think we handled this situation fairly well, but many, including the FBI, have stated that the FBI could have done more during its investigation to reach out to our community. Such a public admission by the FBI is unusual, and perhaps indicative of the changes in the FBI and in their relationship with us.
As a gay man and career FBI agent, I can attest to recent changes in the FBI regarding the gays and lesbians. The FBI now has a number of openly gay and lesbian agents and support personnel (some are in supervisory positions), and the Bureau hires openly gay and lesbian applicants for these positions.
During the Cunanan investigation, the Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego FBI office spoke of assigning an FBI agent as a permanent liaison to the gay and lesbian community. We are also discussing other ideas and approaches with the FBI, which might help all of us in the future. This is an opportunity for us to take the initiative and reach out to the FBI with our ideas, recommendations, or complaints. Request that the agent in charge of your city's FBI office appoint a permanent liaison to our community. Contact FBI Director Louis J. Freeh at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and request that he adopt this liaison program nationwide and undertake other measures to improve the FBI's relationship with us. This moment in time affords us an excellent opportunity to take the lead and create positive changes. Our community, the FBI, and the entire country will benefit from our actions. Sincerely,
--Frank Buttino, San Diego, CA
[Frank Buttino has been featured on 60 Minutes, Larry King Live & The Oprah Winfrey Show. He has written A Special Agent: Gay and Inside the FBI, published by William Morrow, which chronicles Buttono's life, his twenty-year FBI career, and his landmark civil rights case, which resulted in prohibiting any agency within the Justice Dept. from discriminating against any employee or applicant based on sexual orientation. Now retired from the FBI, Buttino lectures extensively and is involved with local San Diego volunteer organizations. He can be reached at 619.274.3098.]
I read the letter in AMBUSH about the MD who opposes inclusion of Transgendered people in the Human Rights Campaign. I'm a MTF (male to female) pre-operative transsexual from Rochester/NY and thought I'd share a letter that I wrote to our local Gay organization (Gay Association of the Genesee Valley) about 1 and a half years ago now. Since that time, there has been great cooperation within the local gay and tg communities in addressing social inequalities.
Well, here's the letter. Feel free to reprint it without naming names (still not out to my employer due in part to the lack of any protection against prejudicial and vindictive reactons).
Targeted But Not Included
Imagine walking down a city street unaware of anything unusual going on. Suddenly a storm of people come rushing hell-bent around the corner with an angry crowd in pursuit of them. Before you can react, you are enveloped by the people being pursued. What would you do?
Stand your ground and try explaining to the angry pursuers that you are merely out for a stroll and are not included in their targeted group? Maybe they would wait calmly for your explanation and apologize for startling you? Would it be worth the risk to find out? Or you could turn and run with the people surrounding you hoping there's safety in numbers. Perhaps after eluding your persecutors, you may take the time to satisfy your curiosity as to why they were being pursued. if you find an injustice being done, you may even be energized to work with your new allies to try to remedy it so the same event won't be repeated. What would you do?
I'm a transgendered male who ran into a similar situation here in Rochester. While attending a Fetish Night at a local club in appropriate(for a transgendered individual) femme attire, three men came up to me for a better look and to satisfy themselves that I was not the 'genuine' article. The first bumped into me. When I politely said, "Pardon me.", his two friends were convinced I was not a genetic girl. The first of his friends said, "f&*ing faggot". The other friend added, "We'll be back to kick your a** later, Homo."
While I don't consider myself primarily gay, definitions get confusing for the gender dysphoric, I did feel incensed at the presumed 'Gay Bashing' and determined to do something to prevent this type of thing from happening again to either myself or anyone else.
So I got a copy of 'The Empty Closet' and read the platform being pursued. To my surprise, even though the men who accosted me had included me in their hunt for homosexuals, the Gay Alliance did not even mention transgendered people in any of their goals or documentation. So what to do now? Start a new cause to educate the gay bashers that not all transgendered people consider themselves gay and therefore should not be placed in the cross-hairs of their pursuit? While doubtful that this would be successful, it would still leave the original injustice intact-that of targeting an individual because you disagree with their lifestyle.
What I did do was call the Gay Alliance and volunteer my time to assist in a portion of their administrative work and write this letter in the attempt to get my potential allies to begin including me where my enemies already have.
If heightened awareness is all that can be achieved, so be it. I truly believe it will be easier to inform my friends than to educate my enemies. Alternatively, my allies might decide that you can never have enough concerned and committed people working against an injustice and offer to formally include me in their ranks.
If you are truly committed to righting this type of injustice, I'll gladly join your ranks. If you don't see fit to include me, then I suppose the Gay Alliance is meant to exclude me as not in their category of people who experience just such injustices. In my view, equal rights are equal rights which I had hoped your organization stands for. The battle may never be won till the infighting and exclusion of those being persecuted is replaced by cooperation.
An estimated 5-10% of the male population and a lesser known quantity of the female population has some form of gender dysphoria (fetishists, cross-dressers, transvestites, and transsexuals). While not predominantly homosexual, they do suffer from bigotry and repression similar to or meant for that of your current membership. I truly believe both groups can do more in cooperation and alliance with eachother than on their own.
I await your response.
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