Thank you for the excellent article "Public Displays of Affection" (June 22). This subject is very near and dear to my heart, as my husband left me for a man after my second daughter was born. The difference between him and the men described in your article is that at least my ex had the balls to come out of the closet. Because of this, I have a lot of respect for him, and we maintain a good relationship after all of these years.
I completely understand that "coming out" or being open about your sexuality is a difficult process. It may be impossible for some people. However, this does not give closeted people the right to engage in extremely high-risk sexual adventures and expose their spouse or partner to a variety of sexually transmitted infections.
I have no sympathy for people who commit the behaviors described in your article. And to read from the "experts" about the sympathy they have for these people is ridiculous. How about if these professionals save their sympathy for the real victims of these abuses: the wife and girlfriends of these immature and selfish men. I doubt that the majority of these encounters even involve the use of condoms.
The agencies that deal with these issues should start holding these men accountable for the damage they do to themselves, their families, and the entire community. No doubt the practice of completely anonymous sex contributes to the spread of AIDS among heterosexual women, which is exploding is this country.
To all of the men involved: My heart goes out to you. I just hope that you will gain some respect for yourselves and your loved ones and at least engage in less risky sexual situations. If you cannot do this for yourself, perhaps you can do it for the woman that you supposedly love.
Annette Adams-Peterson, Rochester
Thanks for the great story on the policing of public sex in our parks.
First off, public sex and indecent exposure in public parks is illegal, and it should be stopped. That's not in debate. But let me say this:
Hey, straight people! Imagine you live in a world where attraction to the opposite sex is actively discouraged; where the president himself calls for an amendment to the constitution to stop you from marrying someone of the opposite sex --- even though it's already illegal in most states. A world where you're casually referred to as "immoral" in the press by public officials (such as County Parks Director Frank Allkofer) and nobody blinks. Where government officials seduce you --- and slap cuffs on you, threaten you with prison, and expose you in the newspaper if you respond even with a touch.
In such a world, wouldn't you keep your sexuality a secret? Wouldn't you resist your true nature, and find your sexual release in the shadows, rather than face that kind of systemic bigotry? And wouldn't you waste your life in hiding as a result?
Ask yourself: Have you done anything to change this culture, to make it more accepting of gay people in your day-to-day life?
You could start by coming to the Pride parade (on July 16 at the Highland Bowl) and help us celebrate our very existence. Maybe if you do, someone in your sphere of influence will choose to live their life more openly, less covertly, less shamefully, and decide that cruising the park is not the only way they can find sexual expression.
If you don't try to eliminate the larger societal stigma that allows such a situation to evolve, then accept your part of the blame.
Finally: Hey, fellow gay men! Stop going to the parks for sex. Come to the gay pride activities in the coming weeks. Do the hard work of becoming comfortable with who you are. Face your fears. Then go ahead, have all the sex you want! I recommend falling in love first --- it makes the sex exponentially better --- but hey, it's your life, live it your way.
Leave the fear behind. Come out of the shadows --- and maybe someday we can share a laugh about Frank Allkofer, who can kiss my big gay immoral ass.
By the way: Who does this Allkofer report to? Maggie Brooks? Is this how she encourages her government to speak about gay people to the press?
Martin Brennan, Belmont Street, Rochester
Your cover story "Public Displays of Affection" was daring and heart-wrenching. Not being really wired to appreciate anonymous sex myself, your article illustrates how deep the human need to communicate sexually is, and what risks some folks are willing to take in spite of some potentially dire consequences.
As utterly reckless as the behavior described in the article is (when it does occur), I believe that sexual repression and its kissin' cousins guilt and shame are a cottage industry. And that if and when, at last, all people are free to love without shame, courts, churches, and couches across the land will be free to do some real good for humanity.
Mark Mason, Oxford Street, Rochester
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