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Gene Elder, Free Speech Artist


Gene Elder at the GayBLT archives at the Bonham, November 2008

Gene Elder is a CurBlog hero.

You may remember Gene Elder from his very entertaining and informative Chartreuse Couch interview of City Council hopeful Chris Forbrich.

Or from his hilarious conceptual art correspondence with e-mail scammers.

Or from this feature I wrote about him in conjunction with this November cover story about his best friend and co-activist, SA's fairy godfather, the late, Great Hap Veltman.

You may know Gene from his arts-humor-politics e-mail list, too, or as a fellow-bruncher at Candlelight (if you're lucky), or as an art performer (his medium is wine) during openings at his friend Joan Grona's gallery at Blue Star.

Well, here he is again, opining with great wit and wisdom about the recent fracas involving the fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family and their (thus far) thwarted attempts to buy ad space in the Express-News.

Read more about the FOTF/E-N fracas here.

And don't get me wrong--Focus on the Family and other organizations which seek to "reform" gays and lesbians, oppose equal marriage rights, and claim that God disapproves of certain kinds of families give me the heebies, but good. I'm not eager to see "ex-gays" touting their new Christ-given zeal for the correct naughty bits in the E-N. Nor am I wild about the fact that this organization is holding an "ex-gay seminar" here in SATX. "Reformed gay?" That's a "Big Love" subplot, honey, not any kinda way to live.

And, given Gene Elder's activism and his status as an out and proud gay man, I suspect he agrees with me there.


The following letter, which he sent to Robert Rivard and Bruce Davison at the Express-News, as well as to Chris Forbrich, to Sam Sanchez, and to the Current, makes clear that Gene Elder's commitment to free speech extends to everybody.


(Editorial note: the formatting stylistic flourishes--unerlinings, text color and such, are Gene Elder's. he's got a hell of an art piece as his signature, too, but as yet I am unable to duplicate it on our blog program).


Dear Express News editors and such:

I have to say that I would not object to your newspaper selling ad space to Focus On The Family. I hardly think the GayBLT community is going to worry about that at this late date in the game. This only gives them (i.e. FOTF) reason to start a campaign about how they are discriminated against.

I did attend the 3 day Exodus conference at Trinity in the 80s. I thought it was very enlightening. I enjoyed myself thoroughly. They did not know I wasn't one of them but I talked to many about their decision to stop being gay and to get Jesus. I also do not think the GayBLT community has any business telling the newspaper what kind of ads you can put in your paper. I support free speech. People should be allowed to decide for themselves. This is just the equal and opposite reaction to what Hap and I ran into when we wanted to place the full page ad protesting Anita Bryant when she came to SA.

(We did get the ad in the paper. I still have a copy. I can't remember if it was The San Antonio Light or The San Antonio Express.)

Anyway the newspaper should be for everybody.
Gene Elder

Hello, str8 peeps (including myself): Gene Elder's ready to speak out for everyone's human rights.

Will you return the favor?

Kenneth Garrett, Gene Elder (in cowboy hat), Wade Strauch and two friends with the AIDS quilt in Washington, D.C. in 1987. Photo by Hap Veltman.

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