Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Letters to the Editor


Flag creator weighs in

The rainbow flag that flies so proudly over Harvey Milk Plaza was my creation. It took me 10 years of work to get it there and was dedicated on November 7, 1997 to commemorate the election of Harvey Milk to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. I share credit for this accomplishment with then-Mayor Willie Brown and Jeff Sheehy, then-president of the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club.

This was never a community flagpole; it is there for one reason, to fly the rainbow flag. Now a blowhard bully with zero knowledge of the flag's history is determined to wreck a landmark work of art by making it a turf war and a posthumous popularity contest. One day it's Elizabeth Taylor the next day it's Ruth Brinker, perfectly nice heroes, but the flag should not be lowered for them or anyone else. It is a beacon of hope and symbol of liberation that should always be flown full staff 24/7, 365.

The Merchants of Upper Market and Castro people started this craziness when they allowed the leather flag to be flown there during the Folsom Street Fair. Nothing against leather folk or their flag but it does not belong there, nor does any other flag.

Let the rainbow flag fly free and proud.

Gilbert Baker

New York City

Nudists deserve thank you from gays

In yet another political move to rally his conservative base, Supervisor Scott Wiener is attempting to legislate nudity in San Francisco. It would be nice to see Mr. Wiener do something to expand the rights of San Franciscans or help the most vulnerable among our citizens but he would rather put laws on our bodies, arrest homeless queer youth (sit/lie), and take away our rights to pass ballot initiatives (Prop E). What Wiener doesn't understand is that nudists do a great service to our queer community. Their bravery to express themselves in their most vulnerable form makes it safer for all of us to express our own selves how we see fit. By engaging in the biggest societal taboo, they epitomize queer and sexual liberation. We owe them our admiration.

Mark Daniel Snyder

San Francisco

Grateful no wars on U.S. soil

As an American whose consciousness doesn't end at American borders, the emotion that I feel strongest each September 11 is gratitude. I feel grateful that I live in one of the few countries that hasn't experienced war by an invading army on our own soil. The 20th century was an unending series of large-scale wars in nearly every country except ours. Every time the U.S. invades a country, Americans have no idea of the impact it has on those people. For one morning in 2001 we had an introduction. Considering U.S. foreign policy and our record of armed intervention around the world, I feel grateful that we haven't reaped what we have sown.

Joe Kempkes

Oakland, California

Rodeos are bad for animals

Six years ago I was given a freelance assignment to write a story about the gay rodeo for the Bay Area Reporter . Of course, I jumped at the opportunity to write a story for the gay newspaper of record. In doing research for the news story, I found out only a few mildly disturbing things in mainstream sources. But what I didn't find information about was the "routine suffering" to which rodeo animals are subjected.

Since then I have adopted my first (second, third ... sixth) rescue animal, volunteered for the Oakland municipal shelter, and volunteered with Harvest Home Animal Sanctuary, which is a nonprofit that cares for neglected and abused farm animals. Through talking with the people on the ground who work in animal rescue, and through doing my own research, I have learned about many things that are considered normal by many, but cause routine – and completely unnecessary – suffering to animals.

Ever wonder why the rodeo horses jump and kick to begin with? It's not because they have "gone wild." A strap is cinched around their midsection in such a way that the horse feels the need to jump and kick to get it off. This isn't your standard saddle belt, but a tightly cinched strap designed specifically to antagonize the horse and make him angry.

The next event? Baby cows are chased, teased, and harassed before being violently slammed to the ground. All the while there is a circle of people jeering, taunting, and yelling at them. Chute dogging is another rodeo event, and involves wrestling an animal, twisting its neck, shoving it around and forcing it into submission. Reminds me of high school.

Bullying animals to prove that we are tough? For a thrill? For a laugh? These are not the values I want to see perpetuated in my community. If you went to last weekend's gay rodeo in the Bay Area, consider doing something different next year that will help animals rather than harm them. Visit an animal sanctuary such as Harvest Home, Animal Place, or Farm Sanctuary. All are just a short carpool away. See where compassion takes you.

Ian Elwood

Oakland, California

Send letters to the Bay Area Reporter, 395 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Letters must be signed, and include an address and daytime phone number for verification purposes only. Unsigned letters will not be published. E-mail letters are accepted at Please put "letter to the editor" in the subject line, and also include an address and phone number. Letters may be edited for space.

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