To the Editor:
As a gay, black libertarian, few are more aware than I how minorities are hardly monolithic in their outlooks or approaches to problem-solving. My response to Tre Borden’s column on the LGBT Co-op’s resisted rapprochement with Toad’s Place (“Co-op must mediate stances, unify membership,” 4/17) is simple. To be blunt: Tre, when did having a modicum of self-respect become “radical”?
Brian Phelps, the owner of Toad’s, is a person who has repeatedly sponsored performers who openly call for gays and lesbians to be shot in the head, set on fire and killed in all manner of grisly ways. Buju Banton, the most recent of such performers, not only went on an anti-gay tirade at the end of his Toad’s performance (according to the Hartford Courant), but he is himself on trial in Jamaica for physical gay-bashing. For Phelps, or Borden, for that matter, to claim incomprehension at Toad’s being labeled a homophobic institution is disingenuous at best, obtuse at worst.
We at the Queer Political Action Committee have tried many times to arrange a talk with Mr. Phelps – we even went so far as to ask the University to mediate. There were no preconditions. Our hope simply was to talk and explain that we do not find the club’s hosting of murderous anti-gay performers to be conducive to a good relationship. Holding some kind of fundraiser would have looked like extortion; we simply want Toad’s not to support those who advocate the murder of gays and lesbians.
Would black student groups patronize an institution that welcomed performers who sang of the glory of lynching negroes? Would Jewish student groups raise money at an institution that bore the motto, “If only Hitler had gassed a few million more!” Or, are those all “radical” positions now? Hopefully, Borden’s more honeyed approach will produce better results with Phelps (though I don’t think QPAC’s approach was like vinegar at all). Regardless, I will not patronize a business that denigrates my basic worth as a human being, and I will urge all my friends to do the same.
Davon Collins LAW ’07
April 17, 2006