September 9, 2010 | by Kevin Naff
Feedback for Sept. 10

The following comments were submitted as letters to the editor or posted to our web site. Click on the headline to join the discussion.

Re: “Mehlman coming out draws mixed reactions” (news, Aug. 26)

Since Ken Mehlman’s coming out last month, we have seen numerous opinions from those who are outraged at his silence and active role in some of the anti-gay rhetoric from six years ago. They decry his hypocrisy, espouse his cowardice and are incredulous that he now wishes to speak up and become an ally. To those who hold these opinions and to all the gay community, I challenge those who have never remained silent to speak the first criticism.

At one time or another, even currently in our day-to-day lives, we have all remained silent when confronted by or exposed to intolerance, anti-gay rhetoric or insensitivity. It may have been something said or done by a family member, a stranger or co-worker and we did or said nothing to correct them or raise their consciousness. At times, we even “straight-wash” or couch our own language so we do not create an uncomfortable conflict or conversation, telling ourselves, it’d be too much trouble.

Make no mistake that this passive action and activity is just as damaging, dangerous and destructive as the active acceptance that Ken Mehlman engaged in. We all become guilty of promoting the “rhetoric” when we do nothing to contradict it. At times, when there is real physical danger involved, keeping silent is necessary, but all too often in situations where this danger does not exist, we pass on correcting and confronting intolerance. When we do, we give a pass to the offending persons. We give a pass to let them think that their words, opinions, jokes, etc. are OK. After all, no one is saying otherwise, so you must agree. Remember, silence equals consent.

Should we not be upset over Ken Mehlman’s damaging involvement in being part of a policy that has set us back years in our quest for equality? No. We do have cause to be upset, angry and hurt over it. But we should also look at those three fingers that point back at ourselves when we point the fingers at others who don’t speak up. We should make an effort in our own lives to speak up more than we do; strive to speak up every time we encounter someone or something that impedes us from true equality.

We should also realize that we cannot change what has been. We have no time machine to go back and fix it and make it right. We can only change what lies ahead of us. No matter how upset we may be with Mehlman that will never get us closer to the equality we seek. The only thing that can get us closer is accepting every ally we can no matter how late or by what means they arrive at the game. You can’t deny that we need to make more allies than we do enemies. —Patrick Hunter

Re: “What’s so great about Vincent Gray?” (viewpoint, by Lane Hudson, Sept. 3)

Lane Hudson states that four years ago he “supported Adrian Fenty for mayor because he inspired me to believe that we could have a better city.” Well, yeah, and Fenty delivered.

By most measures — from crime to student performance to rec center and school renovations to neighborhood development — we do have a better city now than we did four years ago. That’s why more people are moving in than moving out. And isn’t, “are you better off than you were four years ago?” the right question to ask when an incumbent runs for re-election? Yes, Vincent Gray is a good man, and were he running for re-election as Council chairman, I wouldn’t hesitate to support him. But he’s given me no concrete reason to toss out the incumbent. Indeed, if Gray wins and improves the city, in September 2014 won’t he be asking the same, “are you better off” question? He’ll be right to ask — and, if this year is any indication, right to wonder why more voters aren’t asking themselves the same thing. —Bob Dardano

Re: “Gambling with lives and livelihoods” (news by Chris Johnson, Sept. 2)

As much as I detest Sharron Angle, I almost wish she’d win so we might have a shot of getting a Senate majority leader who actually leads instead of hiding under a rock every time the going gets rough. Reid’s spinelessness is directly responsible for most LGBT Americans remaining without job protections. We deserve far better, that is if Democrats really care about our support. If we get nothing then Democrats should be able to expect the same in return. Our trust and support has been taken for granted for far too long. Now, they should be forced to actually do something to earn it before it’s offered. —Rebecca Juro

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

1 Comment
  • Re: Mehlman: “Make no mistake that this passive action and activity is just as damaging, dangerous and destructive as the active acceptance that Ken Mehlman engaged in.” You have got to be kidding!!!!! To compare an individual’s silence as he/she negotiates coming out to the active, anti-gay pogrom that Mehlman orchestrated to elect Bush in 2004 by means of a ravenous appeal to the Religious Right is insane. These aren’t even comparable, and to state that they are is just intellectually inept.

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