From the New Year's Eve police raid of an AIDS fund-raising event to the actions described in your articles, there are serious questions as to the priorities of San Francisco government. It appears there is a "status quo" being defended, and it has come down to a state where residents are under attack by local bureaucracies. Of course, the poorest are always the greatest losers in this.
We need radical change and a truly progressive government vs. the current hostage status in a political-winner-take-all situation where the public loses.
Jeffrey A. Gaddy
He Can Cut It
You had a little blurb about satirist Kirk Mustard running for mayor ("Pass the ...," Dog Bites, 11/1), but you failed to mention his best stance: NO STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT.
His flier says: "I propose we use new scientific methods to help us determine who is most likely to commit crimes (with genetics and demographics) and arrest them before they can ever strike. Preferably while they're still babies, when they're easy to catch. Jail terms would be according to type of crime one is most likely to commit."
Eat your heart out, Newt.
Not So Straight and Narrow
Around 1978 I was asked to chair a subcommittee for the Orange County Health Planning Council to help determine the mental health needs of gay people in Orange County, Calif. I agreed and expanded it to encompass bisexuals, transvestites, and transsexuals. It was an enlightening experience that opened doors to meeting some wonderful people who became good friends.
For years I have smugly thought that I knew "all about" transgenderism and that this knowledge entitled me to extra points on the political correctness scale. Linnea Due's wonderful story, "Genderation Ex" (Oct. 25), knocked my socks off, as well as took my breath away. I wanted to keep reading, but found I had to keep stopping so I could slowly absorb what I had read since it conflicted with what I had thought to be true.
Although I long ago dropped the view that gender is simply an "either/or" with male and female (a transvestite on the subcommittee was fast to point out how using the terminology "opposite sex" was physically inaccurate), I was still viewing it on a simple linear model. The X/Y graph described at the FTM convention just makes so much more sense, as does the reality that there are probably other factors that will take it into a third dimension. This concept is also making the Kinsey hetero/homo scale look antiquated, and may explain why I've never been able to figure where I fit on it.
Nonetheless, kudos to Matt, Shadow, Jon, and David for sharing their private lives with us and helping us to better understand the complexities of sexuality and gender. Their revelations will keep me thinking for a long time to come.
Stand Your Ground
I think it's fine that you've chosen not to take a stand on the major issues facing us in San Francisco ("DIY," Shafer, Oct. 18), but don't go congratulating yourselves as bold visionaries.
People have been not taking stands on issues for a long, long time. I happen to find it encouraging that the other weekly paper spends lots of time researching and investigating to make choices about who and what they publicly support, that they champion these issues, and that they have a clearly stated agenda for what they want for our city.
As far as I can tell, the agenda of SF Weekly is to print interesting stories, and you do a pretty good job of it. But with most of the media being filled with amusement and right-wing brainwashing, I think it is up to the alternative press to support and advocate for progressive causes. And I think it's just fine to have strong, public positions which you communicate to your readers.
With such devastating health problems facing residents of the Castro, it's unfortunate that Ray Sasso and Enoch Ludlow have chosen to spend their energies on fighting smoking ordinances ("Peevish and Butt-Led," Bay View, Oct. 11). Secondhand smoke is harmful to everyone, and studies show that smoking has an adverse effect on the immune system and the progression of HIV. Because of this, and increased targeting of lesbians and gays by the tobacco industry, queer smokers and nonsmokers in San Francisco have joined to fight for the health of our community.
I encourage Sasso and Ludlow to join forces with the rest of the community to fight for its health. For information about the San Francisco Tobacco Free Queers, call 956-1811.
I am sorry that Ellen McGarrahan's article ("Candy From Babies," Bay View, Oct. 11) was unable to see the positive benefits that we offer the teens in our program.
At a time when other programs are lacking funds, we provide a safe, productive alternative for teens with idle time. Our program helps to build teens' self-esteem while allowing them to earn their own money. We offer a program that enables teen-agers to focus on the positive aspects of life while developing responsibility, communication skills, and basic job skills.
We work with from eight to 10 teen-agers only at a time, mostly on weekends, in a supervised group. The teens and their parents choose the days they will participate, usually involving two evenings during the week and one weekend day (less than most sports programs), and they are required to keep up with their schoolwork in order to stay in the program.
McGarrahan also forgot to mention the wonderful activities we do with our teen groups. Camping, canoeing, and trips to amusement parks are just some of the activities we will continue to provide with the support of our Bay Area communities.
We care about our teens very much and hope that you will take the opportunity to really talk with some of our members. If you do, you can't help but recognize the positive impact our program is having.
Scott Walker, Director
Youth in Action/Bay Area Jobs for Youth
Ellen McGarrahan replies: When I asked Walker for the chance to "really talk" with his Youth in Action teens, he promised he'd get back to me -- and he didn't.
Just as other writers (Woody Allen, J.G. Ballard) parade their foibles and fantasies through their work, Dave Eggers and Harmon Leon reveal themselves through Smart Feller.
I think the reader from Berkeley (Letters, Oct. 4) got it right when he suggested that Eggers and Leon stick to music criticism and not to mistakenly "outing" people. Their response on Oct. 25 (why do they need to pick on "little people"?!) convinced me of one thing: The Smart Fellers not only have questions about their own sexuality, but also about their "size."
In "The Last Seduction" (Oct. 18), the racial views of Larry Mathews were mischaracterized. SF Weekly regrets the representation.