Letters to the Editor
Editorial made the point
Thank you for your piece entitled "We will not be diminished," [Editorial, June 16]. Well written and well said.
On the subject of Orlando
I have been largely silent in the wake of this horror. I didn't know how to respond. My private moments and conversations have been flooded with tears. For a long time now, I have been deeply troubled by the venomous propaganda that fuels our political discourse. Frightened by the reified hatred that marginalizes and divides.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, the Orlando tragedy feels very personal. Close. And as a Jewish woman, I know what can happen when people turn a blind eye. As perhaps all queers and females, I know what it's like to walk through the streets with hypervigilance.
And conversely, as someone who's been denied equal rights under the law and experienced the recognition of those civil rights in my own lifetime, I've witnessed firsthand what can happen when we stand together and continue to fight for what's just and right.
As a lesbian mother, I grapple with what I want to convey to my daughter in the face of the tragedy that befell my community and our nation. What do I want my own actions to express to her?
And this past week I have faced my own cowardice in this regard – aware that it would perhaps be reasonable for me to retreat from public visibility and remain silent – in the service of "protecting my family." But that kind of retreat or "self-preservation" allows forces of evil to fester and persist.
In the aftermath of Orlando, I have had to look squarely at the painful truth that I am – and in fact, that we all are – to some extent culpable. We all find ways to cope with the reality of the world we live in. And I believe this requires some level of denial. Some level of ignore-ance, if you will.
I have observed that even within the LGBTQ community, individuals are encouraged to conform to subcultural norms and boxes and factions and rules. People seek comfort in the confines of their own microcultures. And reciprocally, or so it seems to me, all too often reject those who dare to challenge or push at the margins of microcultural norms. People want to be "a part of" something, and in turn, that inclusion seems to rest on the exclusion of some others. There always seems to be an "in" group, defined in part by those kept out.
In my world, we talk of "inclusiveness," "celebrating diversity," "honoring differences." But do we really walk this talk?
In my silence, I have been grappling with these questions. And out of my silence, I have been compelled to dig deeper, to open my heart wider, to extend the hand of compassion and forgiveness to those who may have hurt me, or whom I may have hurt. I am compelled to be a better person in all my affairs, however great or small.
And I want my daughter to know I stand firmly for what I believe in, even in those times I feel defeated or isolated or afraid.
I am Orlando. And I hope that my actions today honor the lives of those senselessly lost and stand in quiet resistance to all the forces that have contributed to this tragedy.
Lisa Cohn, Ph.D.
Don't be fooled by Trump
As a gay man who has participated in our fight for equal rights I was surprised and elated by our successes in some legal rulings. I never thought I would live long enough to see same-sex marriage. Like many people I was shocked by the despicable actions of one religious lunatic and the carnage and hate he spewed with an automatic weapon in Orlando. I was never fooled into thinking that after our successes the LGBT community was somehow granted equality in the minds of the many homophobes in this country and in the world.
All one has to do is read the opinions of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, beloved and lavishly praised by Donald Trump, to see our legal rights are tenuous. The Donald has used this tragedy to urge the LGBT community to support him. What really goes beyond all human decency is his fawning over the religious right and homophobes like Scalia and his willingness to take away rights from children of immigrants, Muslims in general, and any group that his right wing coalition finds politically incorrect. What happens when his conservative allies make him bow to their idea of political correctness and dump us? Clearly he has no strong held beliefs other than he should be president.
Don't even try to pinkwash the war on Muslims
There are no words that adequately express how sad and enraged we are by the mass shooting in Orlando June 12. As queers we hold it all at once: grief for our dead, the memory of the state ignoring our dead and dying of HIV/AIDS, the way our tears will be used by the U.S. government to justify the of murder Muslim and Arab queers at home and abroad.
Almost as soon as the shooting stopped, the same politicians and media who have been attacking LGBTIQ rights framed the shooting as "Islamic extremism" and "terrorism." In many cases they refuse to use the word "gay" and choose to call it instead an attack on "Orlando," or "America." Attacks on LGBTQ people are and have been committed by homophobes of many religions. Before the killings at Pulse, the largest single mass murder of queers in the U.S. occurred by arson at a New Orleans gay club, the Upstairs Lounge, in 1973, where 32 people died. Daily, LGBTIQ people are beaten, raped, mutilated, and killed.
Most of the people killed and injured at Pulse were queers of color. Almost half of the dead, 23 people, were Puerto Rican, from a land under U.S. colonial rule that grants the people of the island few rights and which has destroyed their economy while demanding massive loan payments.
Now the same politicians who would require a birth certificate to use a bathroom are standing behind a pink curtain calling for exclusion of Muslim immigrants, surveillance of Muslim communities, and war and more war in the Middle East. Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism stands against this cynical use of queer death as a form of pinkwashing –- that is, using queer oppression as a front for racism, war, Israeli apartheid, or police violence. We are tired of the killings, and we are tired of vigils. Please join us in resisting militarism and policing by refusing to refer to this attack as "terror," and naming it for what it is – a hate crime against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex people, and queers.
Deeg Gold, Blue Murov, and Tory Becker
Gave up Frameline membership
This is why I gave up my membership to Frameline: After nearly a decade of trying to discuss with Frameline directors why it is important to refuse to take money from the Israeli government, after having Arab queers request a meeting with Frameline only to be denied, and after several filmmakers have pulled their films or refused to submit their films to Frameline, until Frameline denounces their position of accepting money from the Israeli consulate, it is time for the community to take a stand.
It is clear that "brand" Israel, which portrays Israel as the only LGBTQ-friendly country in the Middle East, needs to be challenged. Israel is not LGBTQ-friendly if you are Palestinian seeking to live as an openly LGBTQ person.
As queer people we understand that meaning of hatred against us and the fact that the mainstream media frequently lies about who we are and our histories. The same is true for Palestinians. They live under an illegal military occupation and encroaching illegal settlements that steal away more and more of their lands promised as their country. Life under military occupation is not a life of freedom, and after decades of military occupation it is time that we demand an end to it rather than support the country (Israel) that uses military force.
As a member of the LGBTQ community I want my community organizations to stand for the liberation of all people, including Palestinians. Until Frameline commits to this, I cannot in good conscience be a Frameline member.
Power, progress, and equality
In 1986, the PG&E Pride Network, one of the first corporate LGBT organizations in America, held its first meeting. Since that day, we've proudly supported equal rights in California. As we celebrate Pride Network's 30th anniversary, we're constantly looking for new ways to support our employees and Californians, so they can be their "whole selves" at work and in life.
Most recently, our leadership, me included, took part in the "I'm an Ally" campaign to support LGBT inclusion and safety at work. PG&E's diverse 70,000-square mile service area stretches from Eureka to Bakersfield and our 23,000-plus employees have equally diverse needs. When we create a safe space for our people, we are better able to support our customers and provide safe, reliable, affordable, and clean energy throughout Northern and Central California.
We are proud to support the LGBT community and allies during the San Francisco Pride parade on June 26. We've made incredible progress over the past 30 years and are committed to building a better future for all Californians.
Stephanie Isaacson, Senior Manager
San Francisco Division, PG&E