Friday, July 15, 2011

Letter to the Editor of "Xtra!" (Updated)


Referring to Mr. McCann’s editorial (“Flying the Freak Flag,” Xtra!, #467), beyond what a straight person might think of me by looking at your newspaper, I’m tired of seeing drag queens, and hyper-sexualized leather men and go-go boys in your pages.  They, and what they represent, are as far away from my life as a fifty-something gay man, partnered for nineteen years, and living in the suburbs, as you can get.  Most times, I wonder why I even bother picking up Xtra!.  
Still, keep the freak show going, because, yes, there are plenty of freaks among us, and they should be seen and heard for amusement purposes.  But I, and apparently a number of your other readers, would appreciate seeing more images of non-freaks, too--those who don’t have a feather boa, a leather harness, or a G-string to their name.  In other words, people over thirty-five with lives, assuming, at our advanced age, we’re still considered part of the community.              
Open your mind, Mr. McCann.  As an editor of arguably the most influential gay and lesbian publication in Canada, you have the opportunity to ensure every segment of our diverse community is represented in a positive and uplifting manner.  Your cavalier attitude doesn’t fly with me, and it shouldn’t with most of your readers, either.  Once you figure out who you serve, I’m hopeful you’ll make better editorial decisions for your newspaper. 


(For the editorial by Marcus McCann I was responding to, please click here.)

Note:  My letter was published in issue #468 of Xtra!, dated July 28, 2011.


Update:

At least two of the letters sent to Mr. McCann subsequent to mine agreed with my point of view (you can see those at the link above, too).

Then this letter appeared in issue #469 of Xtra! dated August 11, 2011:

Referring to Mr. Rick Modien's letter [Letters, Xtra! #468, July 28], referring to Marcus McCann's editorial, all I can muster is "Huh?"

Mr. Modien quotes his age as if to indicate that most gay people of that age feel as he does.  That somehow his view is an entitled one.  To insult drag queens, leather men and anyone else that he sees as freaks is amazing.  Isn't this the backward, prudish and very suburban mindset that we as gay people have been fighting?

Well, Mr. Modien, I too am a gay man over 50, and I understand that it was and is people that follow their true spirit that started the whole gay movement.  It was drag queens that first said "No!" to being arrested for just being.

If it was left up to people like you, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Xtra has had many, many articles of absolute relevance to all the gay community--or do you just look at the pictures?

I'm at the point where I really am at a loss as to what to say to your letter.  I find it hard to believe that someone as old as you doesn't get it.  Gay rights is about sexuality.  It's always been about sexuality.  We are supposed to be free from the restraints of oppressive religion, thought and people like you--the "don't flaunt it because I'm uncomfortable" crowd.

I guess you didn't attend Pride or any events that had "freaks."  Too bad: they are the people you should be thanking.

                                                                                 --Nat Nasci, Vancouver, BC

Rebuttal:

If I have any regrets about my letter to Xtra!, it's that sentence one of paragraph two was snarky, and I apologize to anyone who I offended.  Everything else stands as is.

I do not believe I'm entitled to anything because of my age.  I merely wish to make the point that I know Xtra! will continue to feature freaks (Marcus McCann's word, not mine) in its pages, and I'd like those of us who are not freaks to be featured, too.  Balance is all I ask for.  

Gay rights isn't about sex, at least not to me and not to a lot of other gay and lesbian. It's about love. It's about loving people of the same gender, not having sex with people of the same gender. There is a difference, particularly in how we, as gay people, represent ourselves to the mainstream community in publications like Xtra!, the annual Pride parade, and other LGBT events.

And, finally, for the third year in a row, no, Chris and I did not attend the pride parade (or any of the events for that matter).  We made that choice because, as middle-aged gay men, we feel what the parade has to offer not only doesn't interest us but doesn't represent us and how we feel about ourselves at this point in our lives.

When the Pride Society cleans up its act; implements rules around blatant nudity, sexuality, and obscenity (physical and verbal); enforces the rules; ensures our one big, annual public event is not only positive and uplifting in all respects, but also family-friendly (as many in the mainstream community want), then Chris and I will be happy to take in the parade and show our pride as gay men and a gay couple.
*
I'm compelled to draw your attention to this article, which was one of the comments left to my letter on the Xtra! website.  Please click here to check it out.

5 comments:

  1. Hi Rick,
    I read your post and the article and then posted my own comment with Xtra online. To save the clicking here's what I said:

    While I agree that Xtra and mainstream media should strive to show the diversity of a Pride celebration, journalistic principles also warrant accurate coverage. Yes, people get upset in part because they don't see representations of themselves, but it's also because they don't see a true reflection of the event. Cameras are drawn to what's different, even a spectacle. Personally, I think the go-go boys, drag queens and leather daddies get all the attention they crave at the parade. It's the regular gays and lesbians, who constitute the majority of the "community" who continue to be underrepresented by the press. The flamboyant will always be part of gay identity, but once the media goes beyond that and digs deeper, our community will further evolve and advance.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You know, Rural Gay, the media doesn't have to make an extra effort at all to better represent the diversity of the gay and lesbian community. Instead of featuring pictures of go-go boys, drag queens, and leather daddies to advertise or symbolize Pride events, all they have to do, for example, is print pictures of regular, everyday people marching in the parade, supporting various worthwhile causes that really demonstrate our character and community-mindedness. But I guess that wouldn't be titillating enough or attract enough attention.

    I appreciate you going to the "Xtra!" website and leaving your comment alongside mine and those of a couple of other readers, who feel the same way. I think more of us than "Xtra!" realizes are tired of being invisible within our own community, because we're not young and naked, dressed in extravagant women's clothing, or old and leather-garbed. I'm anxious to see "me" within the pages of publications like "Xtra!." I'm anxious for our media to recognize all of us and to provide balance in the reporting of who and what we are to the community at large.

    Many thanks for your comment and your support over at "Xtra!." Who knows, we might be heard one of these days.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow... what a dialogue! I couldn't help but add my two cents. Taking Rural Gay's lead, I'll post what I posted on "Xtra!" here to save you a click! And might I add, God Bless you, Rick Modien!!

    Gay or Straight... it's about LOVE not sex

    Coming from a heterosexual female on the other side of your neighboring country, I am fascinated as I read this article and all your comments. It turns out the similarities between 'gay' and 'straight' continue to pile up. We all have "freaks", we all have biased media, and we all share a planet on which I'm sad to say we've felt a need to define camps and rights.

    I'm pleased that New York State (where I live) FINALLY passed marriage equality on June 24th, and you can hear the shouts of jubilation I sent up along side my gay and lesbian friends here: http://bit.ly/nJrMgf

    As a marketing/communications professional for 25 years, I, too am saddened by our biased media and would love to see more representation of the 'majority of the community' (as James noted).

    And I empathize with Rick, who noted the missed "opportunity to ensure every segment of our diverse community is represented in a positive and uplifting manner".

    Now is the time to embrace humanity, freaks and all -- being purposeful NOT to have a cavalier attitude --understanding that no one segment represents everyone in a group, whether that segment be sexualized leather men, go-go boys, Christians, OR long-term committed relationship (gay or straight). And if it did, wow, what a dull world in which we'd live.

    The final comment I'd like to make is perhaps the most important. It's in response to the letter published today, August 11th, by Nat Nasci, who said, "Gay rights is about sexuality".

    I could not disagree more. Granted, I'm not gay - but to me, gay rights and straight rights alike are about LOVE not sex. Is there sex? YES! And should the sex be amazing? YES! But let's face it, it's not 24/7. There HAS to be more.

    My gay friends celebrate love the same way I do. They make good choices and bad, they get cheated on, and if they’re fortunate, they ultimately discover the Love of Their Life.

    I'd like to invite you all to check out my recent three-part series entitled, "When being gay isn't always so gay" here: http://bit.ly/oe9sf3

    Donna Smaldone, Glens Falls, New York USA
    08/11/11 9:24 PM EST

    ReplyDelete
  4. For some reason, a comment I received from Donna Smaldone didn't register. Here, then, is Donna's comment in it's entirety. My response will follow in a separately.

    Gay or Straight... it's about LOVE not sex

    Coming from a heterosexual female on the other side of your neighboring country, I am fascinated as I read this article and all your comments. It turns out the similarities between 'gay' and 'straight' continue to pile up. We all have "freaks", we all have biased media, and we all share a planet on which I'm sad to say we've felt a need to define camps and rights.

    I'm pleased that New York State (where I live) FINALLY passed marriage equality on June 24th, and you can hear the shouts of jubilation I sent up along side my gay and lesbian friends here: http://bit.ly/nJrMgf

    As a marketing/communications professional for 25 years, I, too am saddened by our biased media and would love to see more representation of the 'majority of the community' (as James noted).

    And I empathize with Rick, who noted the missed "opportunity to ensure every segment of our diverse community is represented in a positive and uplifting manner".

    Now is the time to embrace humanity, freaks and all -- being purposeful NOT to have a cavalier attitude --understanding that no one segment represents everyone in a group, whether that segment be sexualized leather men, go-go boys, Christians, OR long-term committed relationship (gay or straight). And if it did, wow, what a dull world in which we'd live.

    The final comment I'd like to make is perhaps the most important. It's in response to the letter published today, August 11th, by Nat Nasci, who said, "Gay rights is about sexuality".

    I could not disagree more. Granted, I'm not gay - but to me, gay rights and straight rights alike are about LOVE, not sex. Is there sex? YES! And should the sex be amazing? YES! But let's face it, it's not 24/7. There HAS to be more.

    My gay friends celebrate love the same way I do. They make good choices and bad, they get cheated on, and if they’re fortunate, they ultimately discover the Love of Their Life.

    I'd like to invite you all to check out my recent three-part series entitled, "When being gay isn't always so gay" here: http://bit.ly/oe9sf3

    Donna Smaldone, Glens Falls, New York USA
    08/11/11 9:24 PM EST

    Posted by Donna Smaldone to This Gay Relationship at August 11, 2011 6:29 PM

    ReplyDelete
  5. Donna, you're amazing. I can't thank you enough for your honest and balanced feedback.

    As a gay man, my biggest frustration is getting gay men to look at themselves as complete and whole human beings. The emphasis, as you see from Mr. Nasci's comment, is so much on sex that we lose sight of all the other wonderful aspects that make us who we are.

    I honestly believe if we, the gay male community especially, focused on how we're about love and not about sex (which we've confused for decades), we'd find more respect for ourselves, we'd make better choices around how we present ourselves in public, and we'd succeed in endearing ourselves to the mainstream community.

    Like it or not, we still have to live in the world with a majority of straight people, many of whom have control over the rights we do and do not get. If toning down our parades, downplaying our sexuality, and presenting ourselves as respectable citizens would help us to secure our rights, don't you think it would be worth it? I do.

    I can't thank you enough for taking the time to read the material on this subject and for writing such a heartfelt, thoughtful, and supportive comment. You know I appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete