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Re: Ferndale and Drag

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Editor:

It seems unproductive to respond to the same old, tired, hateful rhetoric that was repeated in the letters from a number of people in your Feb. 23 issue. So rather than respond to them specifically, I would like to address this letter to the greater community.

As a straight, cis person, I support our LGBTQIA+ neighbors, friends and family. I want to thank groups like Redwood Pride, Queer Humboldt and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for inspiring people to live their true lives. I appreciate these groups for hosting welcoming community gatherings, from pancake breakfasts to drag shows. I believe it is important to stand up alongside queer folks who are being harassed and belittled because we are all members of a greater loving community.

Randy Terra, Eureka

Editor:

Tourist season will be starting soon. Cash-dispensing tourists arriving here — via cruise ships or visiting through the Roads Scholar senior educational program — are offered day trips to Ferndale. The sponsors promote Ferndale for its charm and well-preserved Victorian architecture.

I wonder if the day trip sponsors are aware that Ferndale is becoming known as a place where LGBTQ+ folks are not welcome. Who would want to visit such an awful place? To counter the damage, Ferndale needs to mount a visible and consistent PR campaign of inclusivity for all. Without it, I expect a majority of tourists will be saying no thanks to the opportunity to spend money in a town that promotes hate.

Sheila Evans, Eureka

Editor:

All throughout nature (the very definition of natural) there is overwhelming evidence that both gender identity and sexual orientation run along a spectrum. The insistence on a gender binary, on the other hand, is a social/cultural construct, as is the notion that same-sex attraction is unnatural. Do you know what else is a social construct? Religion. And the concept of a god or gods, of whom our species has worshipped more than 18,000, according to anthropologists.

Your inability to relate to another's lived experience doesn't invalidate their experience, and it certainly doesn't give you the right to harass, verbally or otherwise. I trust most residents of Ferndale would agree, even if some exhibit attitudes as Victorian as the town's architecture.

Garrett Snedaker, Eureka

Editor:

I welcome the recent spate of letters re: drag shows in Ferndale from folks who are opposed to them. This allows us to ask some important questions.

Have any of these people ever attended a drag show, especially those that are for children? One cannot reliably comment on something that one knows nothing about.

Would any of these folks be comfortable being told what they can and cannot do with their own children by strangers? It is the very definition of arrogant overreach to presume one knows better than a parent how their child should be raised.

Have any of these people ever pretended to be someone else at Halloween or performed in a play for the enjoyment and entertainment of others? Community standards are universally liberal regarding this.

Just as the First Amendment in the Constitution protects the right of religious folks to express their views, it also protects the right of drag performers to entertain and for parents to choose to take their children to those shows, or not. If a believer demands that I, as a non-believer, observe their taboos in the public domain, they are not asking for my respect, they are demanding my submission.

Steve Brackenbury, Fortuna

Editor:

The discussion about drag queens would be even more interesting if more people stated their degree of familiarity with the topic. Having never attended a drag performance billed as family friendly, I don't know what they're like. Actually, I've never attended any drag performances, so you can imagine how many questions pop into my mind. The two I looked at online looked like spoofs of a Miss America contest or any other beauty pageant. Perhaps some performances are more sexual, and that's why people are so concerned for the children — especially extremely sheltered children.

It's been surprising to see drag performances become so popular. I don't get the appeal. It's not that drag queens are men that is so weird. Women in all that make-up and outlandish costumes, just so over-the-top, would also baffle me. Drag queens are probably both paying tribute to and making fun of a female type. I don't enjoy the campy theatrics, but that's OK.

I wish some drag queens would participate in this discussion. That could be really illuminating. But they're probably tired of being called Satan's spawn and accused of obscenity because they like make-up and dresses. For anyone interested in this area of human psychology, I recommend a memoir by Deirdre McCloskey entitled Crossing. McCloskey is a Republican professor of economics who began cross-dressing at the age of 11 and eventually transitioned surgically. It left no doubt in my mind that gender dysphoria is a genuine human experience, but it also inspired questions about how we — including the author of this memoir — define gender.

Martha Walden, Westhaven

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