“From Chick” by F. William Chickering reprinted from the August 1988 issue of Times Squared

The reprinted articles in February will revisit the responses we had as a club around the issue of drag and how we were perceived my the straight community as a result of an article about the 1988 Pride Parade in the New York Times excerpted here:

“A bearded man calling himself Virginia Hamm, wearing a blond wig, a pink dress, pink gloves and white high-heeled shoes, marched with the Times Squares, a New York square dancing organization.

Was he overdressed for a parade?

“Only if it rains,” he said.

After scattered showers in the morning, the afternoon was hot and hazy, and it didn’t rain on his parade.”

Read the next article.

Dear Dick:

I was deeply disturbed by the tenor of the announcements delivered at club night last evening. Taking the lead from the movement slogan “SILENCE=DEATH,” I feel I must speak out on the issues raised last evening.

If conformity were a prime value of gay people, there would be no gay movement. Those who would have our members be more conformist should just as well send us back to Iowa, Texas Georgia, Montana and all of the other places from which we have fled conformity and bigotry to be able to live our lives as who we truly are.

The themes of tolerance, acceptance and respect for diversity and individual differences are not only at the foundation of the gay movement but at the foundations of this nation. If we begin by actively discouraging “drag” in our club because some people are offended, then other activities with which we feel at home in our club may also be discouraged. Will we be told that leather is unacceptable; that kissing is unacceptable at club functions’ that hand holding and embracing while not dancing is unacceptable? Where might this end? If conformity is so highly valued, why do we, as gay people form our own clubs? Why don’t we just join “straight” clubs?

Those who are quick to express their displeasure with drag are likely to always find causes for their displeasure. Those who would not join the Times Squares because of drag activities or any other characteristic of the club do not really want to dance with us and are probably not the kinds of people who would assist the club in growing and flourishing

I also feel the need to stress that announcements of a serious nature need to be carefully considered and thoughtfully worded. They should be expressed by peers to peers without hostility or condescension. In communications, both style and substance are important if significant issues are to be discussed without divisive effects on the club.

We are fortunate to have a large club with a wide diversity of members. This diversity should be cherished and nurtured.

Sincerely,

F. William Chickering