To the editors:
I am seething with rage after reading the idiotic review by your theatre critic Mary Shen Barnidge of Bailiwick's Secrets production, the lesbian entry in their annual Gay & Lesbian series [July 27]. How dare she trivialize the whole point of the proceedings by suggesting that the characters in question are not lesbians! Give me a break! Her dismissal of their sexuality is tantamount to stating that the Holocaust really wasn't a Jewish experience, yeah, it was "something far more complex" (to quote her insensitive crap verbatim).
You, Ms. Barnidge, are the classic half-ass liberal masking her real homophobia and hatred behind a well-intentioned collection of arrogant lies, condescension and wincing toleration. In your finite wisdom, you maintain that "schoolgirl-league cuddling and kissing" do not a lesbian make. Well, just what kind of visual justification do you need? Full-scale cunnilingus? And if memory serves me correctly, there was some pretty intense groping and foreplay on display that the Brady Bunch girls never explored. You perpetuate the stereotype that lesbians and gays are incapable of relating to each other in the same quality-filled intimacy and sexual fulfillment in love that straights enjoy. Who needs "to make censors twitch" when you do it so well yourself?
Damn you, Ms. Barnidge, for suggesting the gamut of lesbian and gay love runs from "going steady" to "jumping anybody's bones"! What a set of options you offer us! Arrested adolescent puppy love or orgiastic promiscuity! You make me sick!
Do the world a big favor, Ms. Barnidge. Sell insurance. Or better yet, if you can't really contain your bigotry, let it all hang out, baby! Go find a production of Bent somewhere and tell us in your review that homosexuals and Jews didn't die in concentration camps. Or that the impact of AIDS on the gay community depicted by The Normal Heart is exaggerated. Or that the nurturing, long-term relationships between gays in Longtime Companion is a myth.
Or maybe you could do an apprenticeship with theatre critic John Simon for New York magazine? He loves to throw words like "faggot" around in his reviews! As a matter of fact, do anything, Ms. Barnidge--just don't pass yourself off as a sympathetic voice regarding the gay and lesbian community. And please don't flatter yourself in concluding your review with the idea that gays and lesbians have any desire in coming together with you or your straight world. You'd only sully the beautiful worth and meaning of who and what we really are about.
Jason T. McVicker
Mary Shen Barnidge replies:
Labels exclude far more than they include. In saying that the two female protagonists of Secrets were not necessarily lesbians, I meant that love is love, regardless of the gender of the lovers or the name others give to them. A story of lifelong devotion between any two people has something to say to all audiences.
I do not recall having ever read a theater review by John Simon, nor do I recall using in my review words such as "faggot" or any of the colloquialisms for gay men and women that I see regularly in Windy City Times and Gay Chicago. Neither do I recall any attempt to pass myself off as any kind of "voice" for the gay and lesbian community--not now, not 20 years ago, when I was a member of the Gay Liberation Front.