Gay Life In The 21St Century

Some loved our March 20 cover story; others hated it. Altogether more than 700 readers wrote to us and shared their strong views on 'Gay Today.' A forum.

Words are not enough to express my gratitude to NEWSWEEK and all the individuals featured in "Gay Today," (Special Report, March 20). As a gay man who grew up in Orange County, Calif., I have found that my journey to self-worth and self-acceptance has not been an easy one. Reading "Gay Today" has given me renewed strength to keep trying to educate others in our community that when it's all said and done, "to love and be loved" with respect, dignity and truth is not a "sin" or a "right," but a gift that we human beings bestow on each other.
David Hanson
Corona Del Mar, Calif.

Boy, is your March 20 cover story on gays disappointing. NEWSWEEK has definitely fallen from a legitimate news-reporting source to a vehicle of agenda-pushing. I am amazed that you or anyone else would be so shocked at the number of Americans opposed to gay marriages or adoptions. And twice as amazed at your surprise over the lack of acceptance in the church. If God had intended gay families, wouldn't he have created Adam and Ed?
W. Chaney
Clemmons, N.C.

I am a 15-year-old boy attending an all-boys prep school, and I would like to say that your story on the gay couple with the two sons ("Two Kids and Two Moms") was very interesting. I am not very accepting of homosexuality, but your story did make me think about my views and how they might need to be changed. However, I do think that gay people should stop their "whining" about the harsh looks and stares that they receive. They should understand that they are not the same; they are different, and should learn to live with it. And if you are gay, you should maintain a certain respect for the people around you who are not. Do not decorate your car with bumper stickers fighting for your cause. Just leave "us" alone, and I will leave you alone.
Name Withheld

It is appalling that Dr. Laura Schlessinger excuses her insensitive and intolerant behavior toward gays as "words used in a clinical context" by an Orthodox Jew (""). I have been a therapist for more than 18 years and a Jewish woman for more than 60. From either perspective, there are no beliefs, attitudes or values that would condone or judge behaviors of others in such a pejorative and biased manner.
Carole Katz
Southfield, Mich.

I listen to Dr. Laura on the radio for about two hours every day, and have for more than two years. I don't know where you got your quotes, but they are wildly out of context. Anyone unfamiliar with her broadcasts would get an incredibly biased idea of what she's about if that were all he knew about her. NEWSWEEK obviously shook out the words you wanted to support your own view and rearranged them to damn her. You make her sound dangerously crazy, and that's just not the case. What you printed is not what she broadcasts on a daily basis at all.
Mariane Matera
Mechanicsville, Va.

I appreciated your article "Two Kids and Two Moms." But it was under the topic of "Family," and I wish you had put in the kids' point of view. As a 13-year-old girl with a lesbian mother, I find life is pretty hard. We don't tell anybody, but people know. And people tease, and people taunt. No other teen I know has gay parents, and it causes a lot of hurt not being able to share some of my feelings. Gay parents get a lot more attention--they have their own groups, clubs and organizations, but it seems that if there are so many of them, there should be just as many people like me, and maybe you should have covered the children's opinions as well.
Kelsey White
Tipp City, Ohio

It is puzzling that your cover story decries name-calling and extols the virtues of tolerance but leaves no doubt that NEWSWEEK thinks there is only one side to this issue, and that those who hold different opinions need to be educated. Portraying homosexual individuals as martyrs who are waging an uphill battle to gain acceptance, without giving any credence to the views of those who, because of moral and religious beliefs, are of a different mind-set reduces your report to a polemic.
R. Wertenbaker Turner Jr.
Charlottesville, Va.

Your cover story about gays made me cry. So many children are allowed to live in homes where their parents don't love them. So much violence and unhappiness comes out of these homes where nobody cares. On the other hand, a homosexual couple, who cannot have a child without going to considerable lengths, is very likely to love, care for and treasure their hard-won child above all else. But 50 percent of Americans still say that a homosexual household is a bad place for an adopted child? In a time when we let 6-year-olds grow up in such a way that they can shoot their playmates to death, I think saying heterosexual parents are always best is a little misguided. Even people with the most conservative views on this should consider that loving pairs of men or women, despite the moral questions you may have about them and the inevitable teasing their children will encounter, can provide much better homes than many of those we currently let kids live in.
Jessica Noll
Woodstock, Conn.

Enough already! I read NEWSWEEK's Special Report "Gay Today," and once again I'm fed up with being told that American society must accept gay culture and lifestyles as normal. Simple biology tells us otherwise. That point of contention aside, how far will these efforts go to force "alternative lifestyles" or agendas (political correctness) on the vast majority of American citizens? Too bad few people seem to be aware of how destructive these changes are to the fabric of society.
Kevin A. Capps
Corona Del Mar, Calif.

Thank you for your report, which shows a positive attitude toward gays. It is so refreshing to know I am not alone in trying to form a mutual respect between gays and straights. As a straight 13-year-old girl who is also a gay advocate, I hear many opinions from my peers on homosexuality that shock, anger and sadden me. During a recent discussion in my language class on the murder of thousands of homosexuals in the Holocaust, I discovered that while everyone thought what Hitler did was entirely wrong, the majority of students also said they think gay people are "against nature" or "just trying to get attention" and "no one is really gay; they just make themselves believe they are." There was only one other girl in the class who defended homosexuality. It is very important that my generation embrace each other's differences and try to live peacefully. We are all equal in God's eyes, and there is no reason people should be degraded or denied rights just because of sexual orientation.
Cate Aubuchon
St. Louis, Mo.

Your March 20 "Gay Today" issue is not investigative reporting, but unapologetic homosexual advocacy. I was featured with my wife, Anne, a former lesbian, in your Aug. 17, 1998, cover story on ex-gays. In that article there was plenty of criticism of therapy for people like me who have successfully "come out" of homosexuality. But in this latest whitewash of gay life, there is no mention of the dissatisfaction and devastation many men and women experience in their internal struggle with homosexuality. The current debate--even within the gay community--on whether a person attracted to the same sex is "born that way" isn't even acknowledged. The article describing gay "support groups" for teens in schools was especially heartbreaking to me--I know what it's like to be a sexually confused teen who didn't get the compassionate guidance he needed to live a healthy life. What is most cruel about media coverage of youth and homosexuality is that children are being steered into a dangerous, dysfunctional and lonely lifestyle.
John Paulk
Manager, Homosexuality and Gender Dept.
Focus on the Family
Colorado Springs, Colo.

As a decorated WWII combat veteran, a United Church of Christ parish pastor for 35 years (now retired) and a gay man, I commend you for the depth and diversity of the articles that make up your cover story "Gay Today." But "today" is possible only because of the seeds planted by those of us who risked our careers in the '50s and '60s to bring current gay rights into being. Your pieces recount the second chapter of the drama without explaining that there was an opening chapter played out years earlier with its own heroes. As gays gain acceptance in American life, we must not forget that the dream began in the minds and courageous acts of a handful of lesbians and gay men, most of them no longer with us.
Rev. Robert W. Wood
Concord, N.H.

Hooray for NEWSWEEK! Three years ago, when our 15-year-old son had the courage to talk to us about being attracted only to males (confirming what we had known since he was a young child), our first concern was finding great role models for him. After an initial period of adjustment, our whole family was brought closer. Of course we love and accept our son--how could we not? He is sensitive and brilliant, a loving member of our family. Much more difficult than accepting him has been resolving our differences with our church over the issue of homosexuality. Although I served as a Mormon bishop, my wife and I have a hard time reconciling our deeply rooted faith with our church's escalating pronouncements, policies and actions relating to gays. Why would a church founded on the principles of love and charity not find a place for these wonderful sons and daughters? From your article, it is clear that the Mormon Church is not alone in this conundrum. When a church's policies drive its sons and daughters to despair and self-destructive behavior, perhaps it's time to take a hard look inward and get to the basics of true love and charity. Thank you for highlighting these wonderful, principled people in your article.
David and Carlie Hardy
Salt Lake City, Utah

Two Very Different Views of Gay Life
Your cover story about gay and lesbian people is not only outstanding journalism but potentially a lifesaver. When I was a lesbian high-school student in 1979, the ridicule and scorn of my peers was somehow manageable. My brush with suicidal thoughts came when a trusted guidance counselor informed me that unless I magically became heterosexual, I was doomed to live a friendless, isolated existence on the fringes of society. In other words, high school would go on forever. As your cover story demonstrates, the taunts and isolation of high school do not necessarily go on forever. However, there are still adults--parents, coaches, teachers--who abdicate their responsibilities to gay and lesbian children, and both tolerate and participate in the name-calling and dehumanization that drives gay teens disproportionately to suicide. The simple truth about gay life is the best and only antidote. Your coverage gives gay kids and the adults in their lives an alternative vision to the misconceptions.
Maia Ettinger
San Francisco, Calif.

Your Special Report on gays in America was a disturbing and biased portrayal of the deceptive nature of "gay politics." It is important to be scientifically honest and recognize that homosexuality and its origins are largely a mystery. Whether it is psychological, environmental, biological or a combination of all three, there has been a dangerous trend over the last 30 years to embrace one's "sexual preference" without an honest, scientific and philosophical inquiry. The argument truly is more a social and philosophical one than it is biological. Homosexual activity violates the reality of what the complementarity of the sexes is inherently directed to: a unitive and potentially procreative relationship between a man and a woman. Homosexual relationships embrace the unitive but deny the procreative function embedded within the attraction of the opposite sexes. When will society and its institutions understand that this is not a mere civil-rights issue?
Rick Roque
Burlington, Vt.

Teaching Respect for Differences
Hardly a day passes in the public high school where I am a guidance counselor without my hearing the word "faggot" or the phrase "Oh, that's so gay!" shouted out in the halls. These insults are just as damaging to a gay or lesbian adolescent as the worst racial epithet is to a person of color. The difference is that there is a great deal more tolerance for slurs on a person's sexual orientation than there is for racial taunting. You will probably take some heat for your Special Report "Gay Today," but I want to say that it does an excellent job of showing how gays and lesbians are people with the same need to be accepted and respected as everyone else. I believe that through educational efforts such as this, society will eventually come to realize that the treatment of gays and lesbians has been like a witch hunt. Someday children will ask why no one spoke out against such tyranny. You did. Keep up the good work.
John Dover
Winnacunnet High School
Hampton, N.H.

The NEWSWEEK poll in our March 20 cover story, "Gay Today," should have noted that a national sample of 500 gay males and lesbians interviewed by Princeton Survey Research Associates was drawn from a master file of more than 750,000 names of Americans associated with gay or lesbian activities, supplied by Metamorphics of New York City. (Those on the Metamorphics list who identified themselves as heterosexual were excluded from the survey.) NEWSWEEK regrets the omission.

In a March 20 Cyberscope item, "Out With the Old, In With the New," we said that AlohaBob's PC-Relocator sends everything on your old PC to your new one at the rate of about two megabytes per hour. The actual rate is one gigabyte every two hours.