I’m a little older than Benjamin Moser, but my experience was not all that different from his in “How I Stopped Being Gay” [July 11/18]. I agree that it’s wonderful to have acceptance, but we, indeed, paid a price for it. In spite of our oppression, we had the freedom to create ourselves—and we had to create ourselves because there was no preordained, respectable way to be a gay man. I don’t wish for young LGBT people to experience the fear, loneliness, and danger that we did, but it makes me sad that they, much like straight people, will go from their high school Gay/Straight Alliance, to dating nice young men in college, to finding the “right guy” to legally marry and adopt children with, and never have any reason to be wild, to feel that power of being on the outside of the city walls, free to roam the countryside, with no desire to get back in.
While I rather confidently disagree with a few points made in Benjamin Moser’s essay, I can at least hope I am wrong in questioning his assertion that, as a gay man coming of age in the mid- to late ’90s, he is fortunate to be living at the right time and place as to not have to fight for his rights. My view is that this sort of complacency is myopic. A vicious anti-LGBTQ backlash is bubbling and is about to boil over. Again, I hope I am wrong. But I suspect it is too early to stop organizing and marching under the assumption that acceptance in American society is secured.
san jose, cal.
I was delighted to read about my last gay bookstore in Benjamin Moser’s beautiful essay as I start the second half of my ninth decade. I say “last” because at one time or another, my partner, Bill White, and I had six such stores. In the over 30 years of my gay stores there were countless stories like Mr. Moser’s. One small clarification: He noted I had once been married, but I’ve known since I was 5 years old that I was only attracted to males. It was a different time and complicated circumstances.
Louis Michael Seidman’s exposé of the Supreme Court was an eye-opener for me [“The Problem of the Supreme Court,” June 27/July 4]. I would also like to add something about Hugo Black, the justice with links to the Ku Klux Klan who was nominated by Franklin Roosevelt. In 1921, James Edwin Coyle, a Roman Catholic priest, was shot and killed by E.R. Stephenson, a Methodist Episcopal minister and a Klan member, in Birmingham, Ala. What motivated the attack was that Coyle had performed a marriage that day between Stephenson’s daughter, Ruth, who had converted to Catholicism a few months earlier, and Pedro Gussman, who was Puerto Rican. The Klan paid for Stephenson’s defense. Four of his lawyers were Klan members, and the fifth was Hugo Black. Though he was not a member of the Klan at the time, Black played a role in Stephenson’s acquittal for the murder of Father Coyle.
newark valley, n.y.