Letters for April 19, 2001

Getting it straight

Re “Straight Faces” by Raheem F. Hosseini (SN&R News, April 5):

Your well-written article about Faces and Terry Sidie, and The Depot and T.J. Bruce, addressed some important issues regarding the ongoing development of societal relations between the LGBT and “straight” communities.

There are many on opposing sides of this development that insist upon a dichotomy of style and culture, but there is a growing trend toward tolerance and acceptance between those points of view that recognize common interest and common ground.

To suggest that these historically LGBT-oriented gathering places are “going straight” is absurd. Both men and their respective businesses actively support LGBT organizations, but wisely recognize that those organizations do not exist in a vacuum, and are neither isolated nor divorced from the larger diverse community of Northern and Central California. Both men and their businesses are major supporters of CGNIE, the Lambda Community Center, and Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association’s Sierra Stampede, to name just a few. Both men have devoted considerable time, effort and some major bucks to advance the causes of these and numerous other charitable organizations in this widely diverse and widely scattered larger community. Their businesses provide a public forum in which both LGBT’s and “straights” can find ways to learn from each other, become tolerant and accepting of each other, and recognize that it is this very diversity that makes us a strong solid community of people who strive together for the common good. Applause to Terry and to T.J., to their staffs and to their customers. Gentlemen and Ladies, keep up the good work!

Rev. Dr. Bill Hause
Chaplain and Treasurer
Capital Crossroads Gay Rodeo Association

Every which way but gay

Re “Straight Faces” by Raheem F. Hosseini (SN&R News, April 5):

It would be a fair and interesting argument to question the justification or hypocrisy of a gay bar refusing to accept straight clientele if that was what the Faces controversy was about. That, however, is not what has been happening at Faces.

Terry Sidie, the owner of Faces, has been advertising Faces as “an alternative club for the open-minded” on radio and in your newspaper for months. Most of the straight people coming to Faces were, at least initially, uninformed that they were entering a predominantly gay establishment and, quite frankly, I heard of and saw at least a few who were uncomfortable or hostile. I believe Mr. Sidie had created a dangerous situation by failing to be upfront in his ads. In fact, it appeared that all reference to Faces’ former life as a gay bar had been removed until last week, days before your article came out, when the word “gay” reappeared on monitor screens in the club.

For the sake of argument, though, we should ponder the debate of whether or not it is hypocrisy for a minority that still is discriminated against in laws (like Prop. 22) and in society to want to hang onto a place where they can go and not worry that someone will call them “fag” or “dyke” or worse, and end up like Mathew Shepard. I’m sorry, but I have trouble with Marghe Covino and Terry Sidie’s assertion that there isn’t a problem. They seem to be selling out those in their (and my) community who do feel threatened. Mr. Sidie implied that the straight clientele were friends of gays and lesbians or were accidental arrivals. Apparently he’s unaware of the ambiguous but thorough ad campaign he’s been paying for.

And just for the record, it’s my understanding that Marghe Covino heads and represents the Lambda organization, a community center heavily dependent on Mr. Sidie (he’s even their landlord) who seems able to trot her out whenever he needs credible quotes.

I believe that regardless of whether or not it’s a sellout of the gay and lesbian community to change Faces from gay to mixed, Mr. Sidie had every right to do what he did to earn bigger profits. Gay and lesbian Sacramentans just have one less bar to call their own. But if Mr. Sidie thinks there is no stigma to being gay anymore, he ought to take his boyfriend and go into a straight club, kiss and dance. It would be interesting to see if he can get a drink, or will just get one thrown on him. It’s likely he would get the drink, of course. But sadly, there’s still a possibility he would find the climate inhospitable. Think about that before you call people being upset over the loss of another gay bar ‘hypocrisy.’

Joe Frescatore
McKinley Park

Close call

I just wanted to thank SN&R, on many levels, for publishing “Death Confronts Youth” by Tania Lopez (SN&R Essay, March 29). I think it is great to see young writers featured in the SN&R and think it should happen more often.

Also, the essay was very emotional. I literally started to cry while reading it at lunch. I suppose the article did hit pretty close to home: recently my 16-year-old brother Zachary, who attends Oak Ridge High School, was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. He was in a coma for two days and in the hospital for a week. Due to the meningitis cases at Folsom, when my mother took Zachary to the doctor they immediately gave him a shot of the meningitis antibiotic—this is what saved his life.

I can only imagine the sadness at Folsom High School and hope that these tragedies will inspire the students to create or promote positive environments for themselves.

S. Fodge
Downtown Sacramento

Vitriol springs forth

Re “Sprung” (SN&R Editorial, March 29):

“People are crazy, times are strange, I used to care, but things have changed.”

At the Academy Awards, Bob Dylan summed it up in 14 words. Nevertheless, SN&R has put out a call for readers to submit 400-word reality checks to explain the strangeness of the times.

Wait a minute—isn’t that your job? Doesn’t your award-winning “alternative” publication pride itself on rooting around for the unasked questions, the “Bites”-sized inner workings and behind-the-scenes-scoops?

The limp editorial seems disingenuous. Either the editors really don’t see connections between issues or perceive the framework of the Big Picture—in which case they may be in the wrong profession—or this is an attempt to farm some unpaid freelance ideas from the public.

People who are lucid enough to connect the dots, and talented enough to write about it, have lost interest and confidence in your paper. Your staple of good writers have bolted. Occasionally, the erudite and entertaining Bill Bradley reappears, as does the formulaic puffery of R.V. Scheide. Your best current staff writer, Jackson Griffith, is shuffled to the back somewhere.

The Letters page is the biggest disappointment. That is where the editors set the tone for the level of dialogue that will follow. There is nothing more boring to intelligent readers than faux controversy featuring antagonistic letter writers playing tit for tat and going nowhere fast. This is where you lose the very people you hope to draw out of the woodwork with the call for strangeness Guest Comments.

Marion Millin

“Life in prison” means forever

Re “Life Prisoners Face Judicial Anarchy” by Carl Q. McQuillion (SN&R Guest Comment, March 15):

The problem has been the premature release of persistent and sometimes violent criminals back into society.

I did not notice the crime that he was given a life sentence for, or his history of criminal activity. It makes a difference in my mind. Depending on the crime, it may not be all that outrageous to be kept incarcerated over six years or life for that matter. Parole is not one of the “inalienable” rights, it is a gift given on a convincing display of a change of attitude. Judging from the article, his attitude would seem to preclude his release. I believe that others agree. The Board of Prison Terms in the past have released too many that have gone straight back to criminal activity. In some cases very violent behavior.

I understand that the above may seem to be “judgmental,” but we are talking about the safety of me and mine. I do not want to risk my family’s well-being on the off chance that this person had changed into a well-adjusted member of society. I don’t know how a person can do much other than to have “good behavior” in prison, it seems like another oxymoron to me, given the opportunities that should be available to him.

I think that in any given case, possibly this one, that justice is being done. After all, someone someplace is out something, maybe even a life. A life sentence should be a very long time, not just six years.

Clyde Matson