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Gay Chicago Is Heavier Than It Looks


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To the editors:

In the account of the Sotomayor cartooning affair, Michael Miner referred to Gay Chicago magazine as "a featherweight entertainment guide" [Hot Type, February 16]. Ralph Paul Gernhardt did develop a very complete calendar of entertainment and other events every week for the past 12 years or so, but the magazine has always been more than featherweight because of the other material in it. It is also true that the magazine never CLAIMS to be anything other than an entertainment guide. This is just typical Midwestern fear of pretentiousness. I'm sure those in charge also THINK of this publication as sheer entertainment.

However, first of all, for a long time there has been a column on legal problems and another one on medical problems; every year at tax time there is a column on tax problems, and these are regular features. None of these columns is at all entertaining, but they are informative, and the writers are professionals with the right degrees.

Second, Gay Chicago magazine published the columns of Jon-Henri Damski for several years before he went to Windy City Times. Damski is not a featherweight, but a gentleman and a scholar (with the right degrees). He is an intellectual who is, nevertheless, able to handle practical gay issues. He is ideally suited temperamentally to politics and was one of the Gang of Four who got the Gay Rights Amendment passed. He holds numerous honors from the gay community and the general community as well.

Third, there are the other columnists of the magazine (besides the gossip columnists) who do book reviews, write on gay and lesbian concerns, and propose models for living--for instance especially Don Eric, who writes on many subjects (including footnotes and citations), and especially on art. He also does down-to-earth faux naif pieces as well. These are often as pretend-featherweight as the magazine as a whole.

It makes everybody happy in the gay community to think of Gay Chicago magazine as a bar rag, because the community's old guard despises wind-baggery, but everybody knows what the publication really is. Ralph Paul seldom gets the credit he deserves, which was not to appear in the Reader merely as one of the several players in the recent cartoon controversy. The gay community would not be what it is without his organization of events that come under the LABEL of entertainment but that are the reason anybody comes out of the house on weekends in our community, which is to have a good time. There's nothing "merely entertaining" about this--think what GAY means!

Ralph Paul probably has no pretensions of being a magister ludi, but that's what I'd call him. The awards event and his personal touch of encouragement of special events every weekend in countless bars and other places make him also a magister businessi--money flows, including to and from advertisers, and a lot of people are employed in various capacities, all in the tradition of American enterprise from which everybody benefits.

As for the cartoon issue itself, the only person who is justified in taking things seriously is Danny Sotomayor himself, as it is his job, his career in general, and his concern for life and death that are involved. Most of the other people need to remember "our" old saying, "Get over yourself."

David J. Pallinberg

W. Cornelia

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