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February 16, 2004

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Same-Sex Orientation
I am a 37-year-old lesbian who has a business degree and owns her own company, so it is nice to read that there are many more lesbians who feel the same as my partner and I do [“Not Your Mother’s Lesbians,” by Kera Bolonik, January 12]. We look like the women on The L Word and seem to have to surround ourselves with cultured gay men to feel part of the gay community. They always comment about how wonderful it is that we are two beautiful, smart, well-dressed lesbians. Thank you for putting our point of view in perspective and on paper.
—Janice Mahlmann, Princeton, N.J.

L For L.L.Bean
As a lesbian, I have very mixed feelings about Kera Bolonik’s article regarding Showtime’s new series The L Word. While I applaud her for highlighting the invisibility of lesbians in the mainstream media and giving attention to the first series made by and for lesbians, I find her bashing of flannel-and-Birkenstock-wearing, hard-assed, political, Rosie O’Donnell–esque dykes incredibly troublesome, and I am offended by her implication that they are to blame for society’s ignorance and negativity toward lesbians. She seems to forget that nonglamorous, politically radical lesbians made it possible for the writers and producers of The L Word to have a show at all.
—Eileen McDermott, Manhattan

Coming out Rosie
Why doesn’t Rosie O’Donnell have the right to wear khaki pants with tube socks and clogs if she feels like it? Do celebrities constantly have to think about how they represent other members of their sexual minority? There are many sides to all of us, and since we don’t dwell on how straight people represent each other, we should stop letting one person define an entire group.
—Katherine Dudina, Manhattan

Blonde Bombshell
So Kera Bolonik thinks The L Word will give the lesbian image an extreme makeover and close “the gap between how lesbians see themselves and how the world sees us.” Isn’t that overstating things just a bit? TV execs have finally figured out that privileged, sexy, thirtysomething women getting it on with each other sells and makes for a good source of publicity, ratings, and ad revenue. But this show hardly explodes lesbian stereotypes. It merely offers another set of one-dimensional images, which, by the way, certainly do not represent me, my butch lover, or our diverse community.
—Ryn Hodes, Brooklyn

Bois Will Be Bois
As a metrosexual butch who loves playing tackle football as much as shopping at Barneys, I feel compelled to point out that while there are loutish bois in the butch community, Ariel Levy presents only those who are clearly so anxious about their masculinity that they need to disparage femmes to prop up their manhood [“Where the Bois Are,” January 12]. It’s too bad Ms. Levy did not interview mature, secure, gentlemanly butches who delight in treating femmes well. Using only the most vulgar bois to illustrate butch-femme role-play in the lesbian community is like using Dr. Phil to represent all therapists.
—M. Bouche, Manhattan

Band of Brothers
Many bois, butches, and “transguys” politicize their identities as much as any seventies feminist ever did, challenging gender and sexual boundaries in an effort to redefine masculinity without misogyny. I wish Ariel Levy had dug a little deeper into the community to find the scores of us who manage to maintain strong boi bonds while still respecting femme women. Our networks of “brothers” provide the love and validation we often don’t get outside our own communities, and are all worthy of respect without reverting to outmoded stereotypes of what masculine-feminine relations have to be.
—Tey Meadow, Manhattan

Bad Reps
I have one thing to say to New York Republicans: There’s a reason there are a great many Bush-bashers in New York [“It’s Their Party,” by Alex Williams, January 12]. It’s because New Yorkers are a whole lot more informed than much of the rest of the country. What are you doing here if you can’t recognize that Bush is an arrogant, babbling idiot? I lived in England through the eighties and still visit there regularly. The general perception of recent Republican presidents abroad (Reagan and the Bushes in particular) has been very negative. When are Republicans going to recognize that Bill Clinton was an intelligent, sensitive, and modern president who helped turn the economy around and did America proud throughout the rest of the world?
—Fergus O’Brien, Manhattan

Ship Out
Republicans want us to pray in school, give up reproductive freedom, get in the bedrooms of people who (gasp!) want to make a permanent commitment to each other even though they may be of the same sex, and label as anti-American those who question the war or the erosion of our civil liberties. This is getting government out of our lives? Not to mention that this is the party that tried to block emergency financial aid to New York in the wake of 9/11. Please, I will personally escort you all to Tom DeLay’s cruise ship if you will just leave me alone or at least give me an argument that doesn’t involve the Bible.
—Eileen White, Manhattan

Lone Star State
Republicans accept gays? Does that policy include Bush’s hope for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage? Does the party that accepts gays include the Texas delegates who lowered their heads rather than look at a gay congressman from Arizona while he spoke at the 2000 convention? As for Troy Johnson’s contention that Republicans stress self-sufficiency: Is there any public figure less self-sufficient than George W. Bush? Oil leases from his father’s friends, sweetheart loans to buy the Texas Rangers, and Dad’s old buds to help him run the country—it doesn’t quite sound like bootstraps being pulled up.
—Sam Greenfield, Manhattan

Under the Bigot Tent
As a Democrat, I read Alex Williams’s “It’s Their Party,” especially the individual profiles, with great amusement. I’m a former Wall Streeter, so the presence of a sizable Republican constituency in the city is nothing new to me, and I understand their motivations. The Republican Party has done an excellent job of propagating the politics of selfishness. It’s no longer a party that even attempts big ideas and big solutions, having realized that it’s simply more effective to scare people and point blame. This is perfectly exemplified by the profile of the gay law student. He seems happy to legislate the behavior of other people in every way other than those that affect his own personal behavior, avoiding the thorny issues of religious and civil rights. The irony is evidently lost on him. Equally evident is his ignorance of the party’s history of catering to every ethnic and religious bigot, from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson to Pat Buchanan and Trent Lott. I hope he finds the “big tent” to be as hospitable as he hopes, but I suspect it won’t work out that way.
—George Peng, Manhattan

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