Letters

From Our Readers: March 2008

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Mankind Project. JD Doyle. And a reader who objects to being called

 MORE ON MANKIND

I was disappointed, shocked, and angered by the article that Wayne Besen wrote titled “Nude Warrior Adventure” [“LeftOut,” January 2008]. It appears that he has based his findings on hearsay, third-hand rumors, and unfortunately is blatantly misinformed. I would think that a writer of his stature would at least check some of the facts. Apparently he did not.

He is somehow confused, thinking that The Mankind Project has a mission of providing some type of ex-gay therapy. In fact the mission of The Mankind Project is to make the world a better place, one man at a time. They have a nondiscrimination policy that very prominently includes sexual orientation.

I gained first-hand experience when I attended a weekend training in April of 2007. It was targeted as a bi/gay weekend and was staffed by many supportive straight men. The targeting to bi/gay men was really a non-event because sexual orientation was pretty much not an issue for the weekend training.

His article goes on to weave in stories about ex-gay experiences of a number of people that have nothing whatsoever to do with The Mankind Project. I did not experience the outrageous claims that he has made in his bizarre rendition. My experience was very safe, affirming, educational, supportive, and at the same time challenging. I feel that I have grown to be a better person, partner, father, employer, and citizen of the world as a result of The Mankind Project.

Randy Mitchmore, D.D.S.
Houston

Editor’s note: In the February OutSmart, we published a revised Wayne Besen column on the ManKind Project, in which he corrected some of his statements about the organization that were included in his orginal column. A Publisher’s Note in the February issue (which can be read at Letters) further attempted to set the record straight on the ManKind Project and its New Warrior Training.

MEANWHILE, IN GOTHAM CITY…

Early in 2004, I received an e-mail from a man named JD Doyle [“Listen Up!” January 2008] asking why there was nothing on the Internet about the comedy/musical group called Gotham, of which I had formerly been a member. Neither my former Gotham partners nor I had ever met JD or were aware of all the great work he does archiving past and present gay, lesbian, and transgender musicians.

Strictly speaking, we didn’t fit into the category of musicians. We had always been “out” performers in the years we worked together (1972–1992), but whereas we participated in creating our own arrangements, for the most part we only did covers of other artists’ songs. To our surprise and delight, however, JD had seen us perform at the 1979 March on Washington, and we somehow got stuck in that encyclopedic mind of his. JD not only did a show on us in April 2004, he ended up with over six hours of additional interviews, hundreds of photographs and reviews from London to Los Angeles, and copies of our albums, along with previously unreleased cuts and recordings, both audio and video, of decades-old performances by our group. JD put them all on his unique Queer Music Heritage website, along with an incredibly detailed history of our largely forgotten contributions to the post-Stonewall world. JD recognized, and eloquently shared with his audience, the fact that we were the first group, post-Stonewall, to be openly gay onstage and off without hiding behind the previously obligatory masks of drag or hyper-macho male stereotypes.

We’re so proud to finally be represented on the Internet, the history book of our times. We’re so pleased to be remembered. And we owe it all to JD Doyle, a true gentleman and artist, a man we are all proud to call friend. He deserves this OutSmart tribute (it was a tremendous tribute that you asked him to write it himself) and many more such accolades from every corner of the world. The gay, lesbian, transgender, and, yes, the heterosexual communities owe him a debt of gratitude for his diligence and thoroughness in archiving music and the lives of performers who otherwise would have been forgotten the moment the applause ceased resounding in their ears.

I truly believe that JD is a man who completely enjoys his work, and is every bit as much an artist as any musician, writer, or performer he has ever researched and interviewed. The modesty he displays in the writing of this article is proof of that. The kudos for his work from other writers and award-givers is only beginning to echo in his ears.

David McDaniel
New York, New York

CHARACTERIZATION OBJECTION

Let me start right off the bat. I have an issue with your staff writer/interviewer Lawrence Ferber, who did an article called <“Good Golly, It's Dolly” “GrooveOut,” November 2005]. Now, I am journalism student, so when reading this article something just didn't feel right. I finally figured out what it was when I realized that Ferber was referring to “rednecks” in his questions towards Parton. This is one example: “Let's talk about your dichotomous fan base for a moment. If I may use a breast analogy, on one teat you have the gays suckling, and on the other teat, the right-wing rednecks.” And here's another: “Have any rednecks learned anything or become accepting of homosexuals because they've met under your umbrella?” If Ferber has neither the tolerance toward people who view homosexuality a sin, or knowledge that not everyone who disagrees with homosexuality is a redneck, then that's fine. It just shows how uninformed he is, but let's keep it out of the workplace, people. I take offense to Ferber using the term “redneck” to describe the opposition to agreeing with homosexuality, and I assure you there are other people who feel the same. I may only be a student, but sir, that is not journalism. Your questions are biased and hateful. I am a right-wing, arms-bearing, pro-life, not-agreeing-with-homosexuality middle-class American. I am not a redneck. And I don't like being put into the box that Mr. Ferber so graciously drew for people like me. Lacey Keel
Crandall, Texas

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