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It is, of course, Cathy Renna’s job as co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to weigh in when a reporter grossly misrepresents actions taken by members of the gay community or “perpetuates endless…stereotypes” in a news story (The Mail, 4/12). But her response to John Cloud’s 4/5 item on the irony of House Republican support for Cherry Jubilee (“Republicans Support Gay Rites”) is irresponsibly disingenuous.
When Cloud noted that gay “circuit parties” like Cherry Jubilee, Miami’s White Party, New York’s Black Party, and Montreal’s Black and Blue Ball are “usually drug-infested,” he was hardly perpetuating a stereotype. He was merely stating a fact—or at worst generalizing about something all of us in the gay community know.
For instance: Rampant drug use at Fire Island’s annual Morning Party (which benefits, should Renna ask, a “good cause”—New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis) has sparked debate about whether AIDS service organizations like GMHC should associate themselves with an event where copious quantities of alcohol, Ecstasy, and cocaine conspire to overcome better judgment and contribute to the very kind of unsafe sexual behavior those organizations work so hard to prevent.
That much of this sort of behavior occurs within the very confines of these parties makes Renna’s protest the more absurd. I expect she knows perfectly well that when Cloud used the word “debauchery,” he was referring not to Sunday’s “recovery brunch” at the Rayburn Building, but to the back room at Saturday’s all-night party, where trousers and inhibitions seem to have been lowered at remarkable rates.
I trust Renna will think I’m arguing that this sort of thing should be somehow prohibited, but nothing could be further from the truth. Revelers at these events know perfectly well what they’ll find there, and I’m pretty much a civil libertarian when it comes to what consenting adults do at what is essentially a large private party.
But I do object when Renna attempts to recast the truth in a transparent and misguided effort to protect the community’s reputation. If we lie when they ask us about what goes on at circuit parties, why should anyone believe us when we stand up to counter the attacks of right-wingers who charge us all with being pedophiles?
And finally, as a writer, I’m bothered when Renna says that Cloud’s article was written “for no apparent reason other than to offend.” Actually, it did a perfectly nice job of pointing out the irony of the situation, and did it in a tartly amusing way. Renna’s humorless, knee-jerk response makes me want to ask: “Who’s perpetuating the stereotype here?”
via the Internet
Trey Graham is a City Paper contributing writer.