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Thank you for a beautiful and enlightened interview with Ellen DeGeneres ["Ellen: Born Again," March 14]. Yes, time heals wounds, and DeGeneres seems to have forgiven a lot of well-known people. My hope is, she has forgiven unknown people too who just watched from the sidelines and said or did nothing, like me. Yes, I should have written letters to protest the cancellation of her TV show and even agreed halfheartedly that her show was "too gay." I even smiled a little at the "devil made me do it" sense of humor coming from the religious right when Jerry Falwell "knighted" her Ellen DeGenerate. She was sacrificed on the altar of inconvenient truth, suffered alone, and had every reason to feel abandoned by the whole gay community. We owe her. Therefore, I feel confident to speak on behalf of us all: Dear Ellen, deep down we always loved you and always will, and we wish you and Anne a wonderful relationship, love, and success.

Peter Clauss, Laguna Hills, Calif.

I find it so ironic that DeGeneres feels the need to apologize for the "mistakes" she says she made in public; I think all of her actions and all of the backlash are part of everyone's coming-out process. If her coming-out had gone without painful reactions and backstabbing, it wouldn't have been real. Her original idea has unfolded even more beautifully and truthfully than any of us ever imagined. Ellen shows true courage and resilience: She suffered through the dark moments, overcame them, and now stands in a better place. How many of her straight counterparts in show business do you think could have come through the same pain without picking up the bottle or needle after suffering a fraction of her experience? We are all lucky to have Ellen just the way she is.

Jackie Dessel, Wayne, N.J.

Without even trying, no gay celebrity or activist has represented us better than DeGeneres. This interview was worth the wait, and she deserved to have done it on her terms. Honest and poignant, she is a voice to the world on our behalf. By example she continues to make it a little bit easier for all of us. Thank you and God bless you, Ellen!

Kelly Devanny, Cheshire, Conn.

I found the article on DeGeneres to be enlightening, especially her comments on the gay press and the gay community. It appears she wants unconditional support from the gay community but doesn't understand why she never receives it. The answer may be that support is a two-way street. Where was her support for the gay community for the 15-20 years before she so opportunistically came out? The answer is, in the closet. The one (and possibly only) good thing about Ellen's coming-out is her introducing us to a real role model and hero: her mother, Betty.

Michael Triplett, Arlington, Va.

When DeGeneres said that "we can't rely on our schools to teach our babies because our schools aren't doing such a good job," she must have misspoken. What she meant to say is, "As parents, we should participate in our child's education, unlike many parents who leave the job entirely to the school. It's a partnership." The schools can't be left alone to raise our children into educated and responsible adults. Her TV show was a casualty of an entertainment-industry attitude that devalues education and diversity. Many teachers fight this every day--but we can't do it alone. Join us, Ellen!

Judith Sanderson, Tony Spano Jr. Culver City High School Culver City, Calif.

I worked with Ellen a couple of times when we were both in the closet. I always felt very much alone when talking to other closeted showbiz folk.

Then in 1991, after having had a grand old time at the pride festival in Los Angeles and feeling really good about myself as a gay man who was out in life in every area but my work, I bumped into her. I asked what she thought about the pride celebration (assuming she had gone). At the time she didn't have a show and was about as successful as I am now. She said, "I could never go to such a public place where there would be TV cameras and all these gay people would see me and think I was gay." I said I understood, but I was lying, and that was one of the reasons I decided to come out I couldn't live like that, always looking over my shoulder. So every time I see Ellen now, I see her growth and get a good feeling in my heart that I'm not alone.

Jason Stuart, via the Internet

Counting genders

I want to thank writer Michael Bronski and The Advocate for the March 14 piece on my new book, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality ["In the Realm of the Sexes"]. The article includes a sidebar based on a 1993 article of mine in which I came up, tongue in cheek, with the proposal for five sexes. One of the nice things about the culture of science is that it encourages one to change one's mind if new information comes to light. Since then, in response to conversations with others in the field, I have come to see the number 5 as being just as inappropriate as the number 2. I articulate a new position in Sexing the Body, arguing instead for the idea of continuous gender variability, in which individuals mix a variety of temperamental types with a variety of body types and builds. I also argue that the continued use of the concept of pseudohermaphrodite (individuals with gonads of one type combined with secondary sex characteristics of a different type) is anachronistic, suggesting--wrongly--that we can know a person's true gender if we know what cells are in his/her gonads.

That this classification system and the medical practice of early surgical intervention are likely to change sooner rather than later is attested to by the recent formation of the North American Task Force on Intersex to reevaluate the reigning medical model for intersexuality. The task force contains some of the leading physicians in the field, intersexual activists, and academics knowledgeable about some of the theoretical and ethical implications surrounding medical treatment of intersexuality.

Anne Fausto-Sterling, Providence, R.I.

Standing on ceremony

Julian Potter, the president's liaison to gays and lesbians, states that marriage "is a religious institution with 2,000 years of tradition behind it" [Washington, March 14]. There are millions of people who get married in civil ceremonies with no religious rituals. Why does she abdicate marriage to being a religious institution? Many atheists and humanists get married without any religious overtones at all. They are just as "married" as the religious. It can be the same for gays. I think she gives away too much to religion.

Nathan White, Naples, Fla.

For the record

The Eyes of Tammy Faye, included in our March 14 coverage of the Sundance Film Festival in The Buzz, will be distributed theatrically by Lions Gate Films, not Fine Line Features. It will then air next year on Cinemax.
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Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Apr 11, 2000
Previous Article:That's sexertainment.
Next Article:Teaching from the closet.

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