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JTT or not JTT

Thank you for your cover stow on Jonathan Taylor Thomas ["Uncommonly Grounded," February 1]. It's always a pleasure to see his new projects come to light and refreshing to hear that he doesn't shy away from the important roles. A big thank-you to him for supporting our lifestyle and being willing to bring that to the screen.

Neva M. Ziegler, Oxnard, Calif.

Proof again that there aren't enough compelling, vital, talented gay people to sell your magazine. Teen-dream cover boy Thomas was the last insult. Apparently we sad, desperate readers will snap at the bait: Is he, or isn't he? Wow! What a conceit. The Advocate is a publicist's dream. In one clever swoop it can clear a client's name of those nasty gay rumors, show the celeb's benevolence, and promote his current project.

Christopher Taber, New York, N.Y.

Matt, Tom, and Ben

Congratulations on your insightful interview with the "talented" Matt Damon ["Going to the Matt," January 18]. The interview demonstrates the validity of the truism that a personal acquaintanceship with gays is the single most effective tool against homophobia. Damon's early and easy familiarity with homosexuals both at home and in school helped to shape the sensitive and compassionate person he has become. His heart is as big as his talent. The interview freely evidences the one. His depiction of the title character in The Talented Mr. Ripley masterfully manifests the other.

Benjamin Hopkins, Waban, Mass.

I found the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley to be offensive and homophobic. Thus I was disappointed to see The Advocate swooning over Damon for his portrayal of the sick and closeted Tom Ripley in the title role. The character of Ripley is a traditional Hollywood stereotype: the closeted homosexual serial killer. Ripley ultimately kills the men he loves in the film. The moral of the stow is that gay love equals death. This reflects another venerable Hollywood formula: Make profits at the expense of the gay community.

Steve Glickman, Oak Park, Ill.

Damon shouldn't be thought brave for playing a gay murderer. He has played the dark side before, as a vicious bigot in School Ties and a lying drug addict in Courage Under Fire. Besides, most actors of his generation willingly take on gay/bisexual roles. (Damon's Ripley costar Jude Law has already played gay twice, in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Wilde.) Rather, Damon is brave for acknowledging the depth of his loving friendship with Ben Affleck and sharing unabashed public affection with his buddy. They are providing a valuable role model for male-male friendships at a time when most "real men" wouldn't think of touching one another (unless they're slobbering drunk or playing sports) for fear of being thought gay.

Henry Dudek, Madison, Wis.

It may be because of data I am unaware of that anal sex was referenced in the interviewer's discussion with the esteemed and classy Mr. Damon. Scientifically, there was nothing wrong with the query. But Damon was not the subject of a laboratory experiment or medical examination; the query was far outside polite society. I suppose the only reasons Damon went well beyond the politeness required of a gentleman and did not exit through the door at that point are that it is part of his job to publicize his films and that he was as shocked as I was and at a loss for what to say or do next. It is no wonder so many people bad-mouth the press, including celebrities.

Marshall Soul, Tumwater, Wash.

Thank you, Matt Damon, for having the integrity to be honest and forthcoming in an interview with the gay press. But shame on you, Brendan Lemon, for not letting up with your "Are you and Ben lovers?" questioning. While many of us have wondered (and most likely fantasized) that either or both are gay, isn't it terrific that a star with his appeal and influence on youth is willing to publicly admit that he and another man (Ben Affleck) have a friendship so deep and fulfilling that one would willingly "take a bullet" for the other?

Michael McFarland, Louisville, Ky.

Damon may be the first celebrity to ever talk about being gay and "not being" gay without saying one wrong thing! I believe that's quite a feat.

William Carey, via the Internet

Singing the praises

Thank you for your coverage of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles's trip to Russia ["A Chorus of Approval," January 18]. The chorus, under Jon Bailey's leadership, has been making quality music that has made a significant impact on the lives of gays and lesbians in Los Angeles for years. It stands to reason that with the impact the chorus members make at home, they would truly "change hearts and minds" with their music abroad.

The entire gay and lesbian choral movement has been making that impact for years. Under the leadership of GALA Choruses (the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses) and the Sister Singers Network, the movement has created a safe haven for gays and lesbians, inspired change, and brought our initiatives forward in our effort to build bridges with the broader community.

Gary E. Keating, Artistic Director South Florida Lambda Chorale via the Internet

Sean Cooley's "A Chorus of Approval" was an incredible chronicle of a history-making event in Russian society. The United States is renowned for exporting innovation and culture to the world. But for our country to be the change agent for another social and cultural revolution in Russia is a singular achievement. I am so grateful beyond belief that The Advocate had the foresight to send along a talented journalist and social observer to preserve this moment in history for those like me who wanted to share the moment.

Roberto Thais, Palm Springs, Calif.

Changing the world

Bruce Vilanch is a genius. In his column "My Own Homosexual Panic" [Notes From a Blond, January 18], he perfectly describes what is necessary to change the world: "to live every day honestly and not be afraid to answer the simple questions truthfully." He suggests this ability belongs to those "for whom a gay life comes naturally." For me, having grown up between the X-ers and the boomers, the challenge is to adopt the behavior, but through the fear rather than absent of it. To learn and believe that "it's their problem, not mine." We must expect this same conscious decision-making from those who would panic in our presence. We cannot afford to wait for future generations of heterosexuals for whom acceptance of gays comes naturally. Thank you, Mr. Vilanch, for distilling the simplicity of what we each must do to change the world.

Matthew Dennie, Rochester, N. Y.

Identity crisis

Gender identity. Sexual orientation. Like so many in the GLB community, Norah Vincent still doesn't get it. In her January 18 Last Word column, she initially identifies Brandon Teena as a "pre-op transsexual" but then violates him even in death by referring to him in feminine terms as she, a lesbian, and Joan of Arc. Perhaps Vincent was only being ironic about the dearth of lesbian films, but her column had quite a different effect.

Brandon Teena wasn't a lesbian posing as a young man to get dates with women. He was a female-to-male transsexual doing the best he could to live his true male gender. Those of us who are FTM know that the gender identity almost always has to come first. Once we are finally able to live as men, only then do we discover our sexual orientation. In Brandon's case, he was attracted to women and so would be categorized as a straight white male or a straight white transman. Had he been attracted instead to men, he would have been a gay transman.

Sean Gardner, Santa Fe, N.M.

The first gay male MP

Contrary to the statement in your January 18 issue, Chris Smith was not the first openly gay member of the British Parliament ["The British Are Coming ... Out"]. Labour MP Maureen Colquhoun came out as a lesbian in the late 1970s, only to lose her seat in the 1979 Conservative landslide that brought Margaret Thatcher to power. Smith's real achievement was to be the first sitting MP to come out and then retain his seat at the next general election.

Steven Botterill, Berkeley, Calif.

For the record

The January 18 issue of The Advocate should have included these photo credits: David Fisher/London Features on page 53; Phil Bray/[C] Paramount Pictures, Miramax on pages 69, 70, 75; and Peter Ross on page 87.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Feb 29, 2000
Words:1433
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