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Leading by example.

Congratulations to Travis Shumake and the other "Future Gay Leaders" profiled ["Look Out, World--Here We Come!" June 21] for their wonderful achievements and positive attitude.

I wonder, however, how much of Travis's confidence about himself and his sexuality stems from his all-American good looks. Society, particularly gay society, equates good looks with value and treats people accordingly. The Advocate only reinforces this with five large photos (including the cover) of Travis in "supermodel" poses, while relegating the others featured to smaller, fewer, less showy photos. The author, of course, points out that Travis has a 'toned body."

For those who feel rejection from the straight world because of their sexuality only to be dismissed by the gay world because of their "lesser" looks, self-confidence can take nearly a lifetime to achieve. Please don't make it harder by bombarding your readership with pictures and stories about how the "beautiful people" seem to get through life with little struggle.

CHAD GHOSH Brooklyn, N.Y.

One has to wonder about the judgment of a gay magazine board that picks as one of its "future gay leaders" a young man who not only thinks one can be conditioned into being gay but also thinks that the physical expression of gay sexuality is a sin needing forgiveness. I guess his quote wherein he says he wants "to be gay, but I want to be normal" sums up his mind-set best. Funny, I never considered them mutually exclusive terms. Hopefully, with a few more years of life under his belt or some therapy for his all too obvious guilt issues, Travis will mature enough to perhaps be a model for younger gays. Not now, though.

LOUIS GONNELLA via the Internet

I was very impressed with Travis Shumake's story. Finally, someone is brave enough to bring a different point of view to the highly volatile subject that being gay is a sin. First of all, people have a choice whether to believe in a religion of any kind. If you choose to believe in the idea of sinning, you must not be hypocritical. I was also raised in a Baptist church and taught that homosexuality is a sin, just like stealing $5 from my mom's purse is a sin. If you are gay and a believer in any religion that follows the teachings of the Bible, who are you to decide which sins apply to you and which do not? Travis has chosen to embrace his religion and still be a proud gay man asking forgiveness for this sin as well as the countless others that he, like us, commit on a daily basis. Travis will be a great future gay leader for posing the hard questions, for speaking his mind, and for not taking the same cookie-cutter gay stance on every issue that we all seem forced into for fear of not being "gay" enough.

HEATHER LeVAY Phoenix, Ariz.
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Title Annotation:FROM THE READERS
Author:LeVay, Heather
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Jul 19, 2005
Words:483
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