Letters • September 4, 2009

Posted on 03 Sep 2009 at 9:55am

It ain’t easy bein’ GOP
It is difficult to be both gay and Republican. This was very well stated by Joe Linsday and Paul von Wupperfeld in the Letters section of Viewpoints on Friday, Aug. 28.

Equal rights for gay folks is not a Republican value.

Jeffery Weber
Dallas

Oak Lawn a ‘Potemkin village’?
A "Potemkin village" is a pretentiously showy or imposing façade, intended to mask or divert attention from an embarrassing or shabby fact or condition.

Oak Lawn is slowly but surely disguising its gay ghetto past with new, high-priced condos and upscale shopping. It is being transformed into a shiny, straight-acting, high-priced, slightly safer, less flamboyant, more corporate and very much unattractive community close to downtown — and at the same time, it is being swallowed up by Uptown.

But in a city like Dallas, where nothing is sacred except progress, it is not surprising.

I left the ‘hood in 2004 to become a Cliff Dweller.

But every day I long for my old stomping grounds on Holland Street, Cedar Springs Road and Newton Street. Oak Lawn in the ’80s and ’90s was a mecca for advocates for surviving AIDS and the center of Dallas’ well-organized LGBT community. Today, while those activities carry on under the din of construction crews building condos and apartments, there are more Internet cafes, condo complexes, apartment buildings, car dealerships and restaurants than gay bars or community action offices.

It foretells what LGBT life in Oak Lawn will be like in days to come. Gentrification is what we wanted and complete assimilation is what we are getting. While I know we want to be accepted for who we are, I do not think I want to surrender my being to accomplish it. While I love Oak Cliff, I miss the Oak Lawn of the past. It is gone and will not come back like it was.

It is up to us to make it what we want and not let the developers and city planners be the only players. They will just turn it into another Uptown or Las Colinas. And Oak Cliff beware, we may be next.

Don Dureau
Dallas

What happened to ‘community’?
Brothers and sisters, there was a time when things were different.

I need to say it even if it is just to make it real in my mind again. There was a time in our community, much like in a family, where you could fight, argue and fuss with your brother or sister — but Katy bar the door if an outsider tried that. We didn’t have to like each other, only support, love and respect each other. We were bound by one common thread, one hope, a history and — I like to believe — a future.

Was I dreaming? I remember a time when "community" was not taken so lightly. It carried a weight in and of itself.

How many of us had rainbow stickers on our cars, and how exciting was it to see one next to you during 635 rush hour, telling you, "You are not alone"? It never was about flaunting our sexuality in the heterosexual community’s face. It was not for them, it was for each other. Pride was about embracing hope, love and self-respect.

There was a time when, just like the straight boys and girls, we slipped into bars with the fake IDs, except we did it to listen to stories from those that survived the plague — if we even call it that anymore. Now it’s the "epidemic" or "crisis" — very clinical, very sterile. Chalk one up for the emotionless hordes that held us down, because if there is no emotion behind the words, then do we really own them?

In those days it, was an honor to say you knew and understood this community’s combined history, its hopes and fears.

It is amazing how quickly we forget or at least pretend to forget. I don’t think it’s that we don’t care; it’s just that many like to think of it as progress. Many have taken great strides in self-absorption and denial. I ask, at what point are we just going through the motions?

There was a time that the goal was to find the prospect of equality and see the beauty in each other. Strange, how at least for me, it just seems like it was yesterday.

Picture a young man full of hope driving down Cedar Springs Road in an old beat-up truck, his best friend in the passenger’s seat, eyes wide as if to say, "Oh my God, an ocean of gay people!" Where will they go now?

There was a time when it all mattered. At times, I think the lesbians had it right all along, while we as gay men seem now to have existed for dramatic impact.

Where would we be without lesbians, the grand organizers, bastions of reality that at times slapped us in the face with the truth. I wonder what many of them who remember think now, those sages of the past. The plague did not wipe them out, but instead left them behind to carry the collective pain of multiple generations of our community.

Where is the love and admiration they deserve? How did we lose these things and so much more?

What has happened to this community — segmented and compartmentalized and apart? Our bodies and faces have been ravaged, torn by drugs like "G," "X," "T" and "K." (What a way to embrace our ABCs!) We did not realize until much too late that it ravaged our very souls.

Some of us have healed, leaving pieces of ourselves behind, and some never will. The battle scarred have since moved on and we have shifted apart.

Crossroads Market is now a shell, and Hunky’s original location will soon be merely a ghost.

Believe it or not, my point here isn’t to criticize, but simply to seek clarity. Hasn’t it been about wholeness? Hasn’t it been about acceptance? I guess the question I have left now is hasn’t there always been strength in numbers?

Beau Landis
Waxahachie

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 4, 2009.

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