If the writer of the May 2 letter decrying an article about the local drag queen nightlife thinks the gay lifestyle is nothing positive or affirming, maybe it's because being gay/homosexual isn't a lifestyle. It's a sexual orientation.
I can't speak about the drag scene in Tennessee, but drag queens are not necessarily homosexual, contrary to still popular and mistaken beliefs. I have personally crossdressed at fan conventions for fun, where it's called crossplay (similar to cosplay, where people dress as fictional characters). Crossdressing is not the same thing as drag, which exaggerates female stereotypes. But this isn't saying one is better than the other. I have a gay friend who crossdresses, though I don't know specifically why. He hurts none in doing so.
Heterosexual men crossdress for various reasons, such as sexual fetishism or gender identity. But the idea that male crossdressers must be attracted to males because they dress as women is purely correlative and has no causal basis. I am attracted to women. Crossdressing in no way affects my masculinity. As Iggy Pop put it, "I'm not ashamed to 'dress like a woman' because I don't think it's shameful to be a woman."
I commend Charles Joynes, principal of Brainerd High School, for being so forthcoming about the problem of apathy among his students. It would be easy for him to avoid it and the negative publicity. It would also be easy for the general public to assume that the problem is unique to black culture in general or Brainerd High School in particular.
An impartial observer would admit that a considerable degree of student apathy exists in the suburban schools, and as a teacher in one of North Georgia's pre-eminent public schools, I can attest to it in that region, too. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a national concern.
To compete in the new era of information technology and globalization, educational reformers and social critics have offered numerous ideas to increase student achievement. This is so that young people will have the tools necessary to achieve a middle-class lifestyle. However, many students do not care about achievement, competition or success. The causes lie deep within our culture and defy simplistic solutions. The aforementioned experts have not suggested remedies of any sort, but we as a society must find them soon.
THOMAS D. CARTER
There was an excellent article on the Times Free Press (May 9) front page concerning the increased dangers that young drivers face when they have passengers in the car.
We in Tennessee have long known that more passengers equal more distractions, and therefore the odds are increased that a crash will occur. That's why, on July 1, 2001, our state Legislature enacted the Graduated Drivers License program.
This multilevel licensure program is designed to ease young novice drivers into full driving privileges as they become more mature and develop their driving skills.
Certain restrictions are placed on teens under the age of 18 who have learner's permits and driver's licenses. Parents, you need to know these restrictions and make sure that your teen driver abides by his/her level of licensure.
As part of its course curriculum, the city of Chattanooga Drivers Education Program reviews and explains those levels and restrictions in detail so that the program graduates are well-versed in the requirements of the law.
I also was pleased to read that Alabama has very wisely joined Tennessee and Georgia in outlawing texting while driving. That's great news for all of us!
Drivers Education Coordinator
Traffic Engineering Division
City of Chattanooga
The Flo Summit-Oak Street Playhouse cast outdid themselves Monday night.
The play is called "The Dixie Swim Club." It was so funny that I, and I'm sure everyone else who saw it, still hurt Tuesday morning from laughing so hard through the entire play.
The cast was terrific, especially Mrs. Jenny Bacon. She is an experienced play actor, but this was, by far, her best performance ever. She should be given an Academy Award, along with this play.
The Oak Street Playhouse is part of First-Centenary United Methodist church.
I recommend everyone in the Chattanooga area consider the Oak Street Playhouse for entertainment outings.
On May 5, my brother and I attended graduation at Middle Tennessee State University. They were celebrating the university's 100th anniversary. There were 800-1,000 graduates. As the program began, we all stood for the color guard to present the flag. To my astonishment, they did not play or sing the national anthem. We just stood there and looked at each other.
When we are in a public arena, acknowledging the work of so many people in this great country, I cannot believe we do not recognize the country that gave each of us the chance to make ourselves better.
We as Christians should fall on our knees and ask the Lord to forgive us for our lack of concern for what is going on in our country. I never thought in my lifetime I would see this happen. It truly breaks my heart, and I for one pledge to let my voice be heard.
In the next six months, we will elect a president. If playing the national anthem or saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag offends someone from another country, I say to them in all kindness, go home.
David Cook's analysis, "The painter of light meets 'The Scream,'" (May 7) was quite stimulating. His juxtaposition of the art of Norwegian Edvard Munch and American Thomas Kinkade raised to mind a historical understanding of current events.
"The Scream" of Munch came from the early years of the industrial revolution that jammed people into city slums and turned workers into wage slaves. His paintings reflected the early angst of the Age of Anxiety, which reached its vortex in the English poem of W.H. Auden and American symphony of Leonard Bernstein.
To escape the modern whirlpool, Kinkade offers solitude in haloed rural settings and immersion in crowds voyeurizing sport. America's upper class left the city. Its middle class couch-potatoed in the suburbs.
While Malvina Reynolds was lamenting "The Little Boxes on the Hillside" of suburbia, Petula Clarke was singing Tony Hatch's gospel, "When you are alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown." Downtown Chattanooga is now seen as "Escape City," an Eden to be exploited.
Mr. Cook, "The Scream" in Chattanooga is downtown on the Westside. Come! Listen and see!
THE REV. LEROY T. GRIFFITH
Westside Community Association
First, let me preface my comment by saying I am a Democrat and obviously won't vote for any GOP candidates.
I found the statement released by Scottie Mayfield's campaign explaining his absence in the May 21 debate rather humorous. The reason given is "the issues are not where the candidates differ, it's experience." I'm pretty sure Fleischmann is the incumbent and is, in fact, the one with experience. Perhaps the experience argument was not Mayfield's best defense - unless he's referring to experience in dairy products.