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LGBT Center Bars Sarah Schulman Reading

Sarah Schulman has been a leading lesbian playwright, novelist, and scholar in New York for the past three decades. | DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Sarah Schulman has been a leading lesbian playwright, novelist, and scholar in New York for the past three decades. | DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS

BY DUNCAN OSBORNE | A leading queer community author was barred from an appearance at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center apparently because the book she was to discuss deals with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We requested space for me to do a presentation of my new book ‘Israel/ Palestine and the Queer International,’ which has gotten a good review in the Lambda Literary Review,” wrote Sarah Schulman in a February 11 email. “It is amazing to me that after all my work in the community, I could be refused a platform to present a queer book.”

Schulman has published 17 books and is a leading progressive voice in the queer community. She holds the title of distinguished professor in the City University of New York (CUNY) system and has received multiple awards and fellowships.

Lesbian playwright, novelist, scholar’s book on Israel and Palestine runs afoul of “indefinite moratorium”

On January 23, John Francis Mulligan, a member of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA), a group that opposes Israeli government policy on Palestine, applied to rent space for a March event featuring Schulman reading from her book.

The reading was to coincide with Israeli Apartheid Week, a series of events that organizers say will discuss Israel’s “apartheid policies” toward Palestinians and promote the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel.

In a January 25 email, a Center staffer told Mulligan “We are unable to accommodate your request.” In later emails, Mulligan twice asked for an explanation for the refusal and was referred to the Center’s published room rental policy.

In 2010, the Center rented space to the Siege Busters Working Group, an organization that was challenging the Israeli naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. In early 2011, Siege Busters sought space at the Center for a party to coincide with that year’s Israeli Apartheid Week. The group was denied space  for the party and banned from the Center following complaints.

DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS

DUKE UNIVERSITY PRESS

Siege Busters was banned because the party was “an incredibly controversial and contentious event” and “it was not LGBT-focused,” Glennda Testone, the Center’s executive director, said at a 2011 town hall meeting. Siege Busters and QAIA have members in common.

Following that ban, the Center permitted QAIA to rent space for three meetings, but abruptly banned that group after the first of them. The Center also announced an “indefinite moratorium” on renting to groups that “organize around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The moratorium is still in effect.

“We were particularly intent on inviting Sarah for a number of reasons,” said Pauline Park, a QAIA member. “She is a particularly well known author, activist, and academic in the community, a Jewish lesbian, and the Center’s refusal to rent room space to have her speak is not only an insult to Sarah Schulman, it is an insult to the community.”

In a direct challenge to the ban, QAIA held unsanctioned meetings in the Center’s lobby for several months in 2011. The continuing ban is in marked contrast to a similar fight at Brooklyn College.

February 7 appearances at the college, which is part of the CUNY system, by Judith Butler, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and activist Omar Barghouti to advance the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement drew protests and threats by some members of the City Council to cut the college’s funding. The school refused to back down and the event went forward.

In 2011, the Center, which declined to comment on the Schulman matter beyond confirming that the moratorium remains in place, said that it instituted the ban because it was “forced to divert significant resources from its primary purpose of providing programming and services to instead navigating between opposing positions involving the Middle East conflict.”

At the 2011 town hall, Testone said she initially heard from 50 to 60 people who either opposed or supported Siege Busters and that “hundreds” more have expressed their views to the Center.

The loudest voice opposing Siege Busters was Michael Lucas, the owner of Lucas Entertainment, a gay porn studio. He threatened to organize a boycott by Center donors if the party took place.

Stuart Appelbaum, the openly gay president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Steven Goldstein, who chaired Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s gay lobbying group, until this year, also opposed the Siege Busters’ event.

125 Responses to LGBT Center Bars Sarah Schulman Reading

  1. busterbobby February 13, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    "…the Center’s refusal to rent room space to have her speak is not only an insult to Sarah Schulman, it is an insult to the community.” I'm not insulted, and I'm part of the community. In fact, I'm delighted that our LGBT Center and the gay community has not been hijacked by the agenda of the ever-persistent hate-Israel faction. Does any book by a gay person deserve gay sponsorship? If some gay crackpot writes a book supporting conspiracy theories that the Newtown massacre was a government hoax, must the Center sponsor that author, too?

    Reply
    • Melinda Goodman February 13, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      She is one of our most important voices and her anti-racist analysis is relevant to everyone. Israel is exploiting the Israeli LGBTI movement to appear progressive and deflect attention from their fascist treatment of the Palestinians.

      Reply
      • busterbobby February 13, 2013 at 8:07 pm

        That's nothing more than a sound-bite. Israel's LGBT progress is no more of a deflection than is America's. Progress on LGBT issues is progress. Period. And what makes Shulman important? Because some people think so? Some people think Ted Nugent is important. And what is anti-racist about her analysis? It's simply anti- every Jew and every other human who doesn't agree with her "discovery." The attempt to represent her extremely idiosyncratic and dogmatic position as relevant to gay people in general I simply find absurd.

        Reply
      • Dmitriy M February 14, 2013 at 2:10 pm

        You know by comparing Israel to fascist and nazi's you in fact are complicit in holocaust denial and insulting the victims of the holocaust. The victims of the holocaust didn't curse gentiles, blow themselves up and have an entire national movement based on hatred.
        Nothing is quite as fascist as the 1st world living conditions of the 2 million palestinians living in Israel, you know with their right to vote, ascension to the supreme court, and ability to become professionals alongside israeli jews in universities.

        Btw if this is really about defending palestinians. Where is the outrage about the millions of palestinians denied citizenship in the arab world even though almost all palestinian residents of arab countries were born in them?

        What's a bigger travesty is the anti-Israel's queer crowd's silence about the murder of LGBT people in the Palestinian territories. Oh yes how easy it is to defend barbarians from the comforts and safety of NYC.

        Reply
    • @hragv February 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm

      I'm insulted and I'm part of the community too. This is offensive that the LGBT Center does not allow this event to proceed. Sarah Shulman is a well respected author with great opinions. I will now look at the LGBT Center in a negative light as a result of this.

      Reply
    • @Boots February 13, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      you out of all people would benefit most by attending events like this.
      a) homonationalism is not a conspiracy
      b) s. schulman is not some gay crackpot but a respected scholar
      c) note by McManigal, the LGBT community center must not deny space to queers (Community Center must find ways to sustain without submitting to threats from private funders)

      Reply
    • Michael Lassell February 13, 2013 at 9:10 pm

      Renting space to a speaker does not constitute "sponsorship." It's ironic that LGBT people, so long wedged out of the public forum, is willing to use the same revolting tactic. Sarah Schulman, who is herself Jewish, in case this has escaped you, is one of the most consistent and courageous and singular voices our "community" has. And anything she says is noteworthy. That doesn't mean she's always right. But she's never irrelevant. Plus, she's a lovely, lovely human being who deserves better treatment form people she has spent her entire life representing.

      Reply
    • Carol Demech February 13, 2013 at 10:03 pm

      FOLKS why are you discussing this with someone who won't use their real name?

      Reply
      • David Ehrenstein February 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

        Won't iuse hisreal name and compares Sarah Schulman to Ted Nugent. I'm scarcely the first person to note that there's far ore freedom to discuss the Israel/Palesntine situation in Israel than there is in the United States. Dare to question Israel in any way shape or form and you're automatically an ant-semite. Especially if you're a Jew.

        Reply
        • Stuart Baanstra February 15, 2013 at 10:05 pm

          David, surely it's not anti-semitic for a non-Jewish queer person to challenge the bible and it's claim that homosexuality is an abomination?

          Reply
    • Derrick Kardos February 14, 2013 at 12:50 am

      silencing those you disagree with isn't the answer. never is. shame on you, fascist.

      what are you so afraid of, anyway? that she may be right? that she may change your mind? or that she might make you THINK?

      Reply
      • busterbobby February 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        “silencing those you disagree with isn’t the answer. never is” And what is calling someone a fascist designed to do?

        Reply
    • Jack Murray February 14, 2013 at 4:56 am

      From the Presidential election, to the Congress, to the hearings for US Secretary of Defense, the pro-Israel crowd tries to squelch free speech all across America. One upon a time The Center was a place where the gay community spoke truth to power. But under the trainwreck that is Glenda Testonne, free speech is banned at the Center.

      Gelnda Testonne MUST GO.

      If you want to get results, go to the Center, get a copy of their Annual Report, and write a letter to EVERY major corporate and foundation funder they have, complaining about The Center's support for apartheid in israel.

      Reply
    • Sasha February 14, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Renting a room for a community event does not equal sponsorship. Duh.

      Reply
    • Kyle Michel Sullivan February 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      Sorry, but 90% of the Palestinians' problems are of their own making. When Hamas and the PA agree to the fact that Israel has a right to exist, then maybe I'll start sympathizing with them. But they'd also have to stop lobbing rockets into Israeli cities. And stop killing Jews around the world. And explain what's happened to the hundreds of billions of dollars given them that's vanished into the massive corruption of their own political and bureaucratic system. I don't see any of that even beginning to happen.

      Reply
    • Stuart Baanstra February 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Whatever camp you're in, bedrock issues surrounding both Jewish and non-Jewish queer people are not being addressed, nor have they ever been. It's like the centre continues to believe in a flat-earth theory.

      Reply
  2. A. McManigal February 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    The LGBT Community Center should not, and can not, determine what queers think and organize around. A prominent dyke wants to share her work, sponsored by a queer group and they are denied! The Center should be ashamed of themselves.

    Reply
    • D. Siegel February 13, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      I am calling tomorrow and withdrawing my annual support for the Center. This denial of free speech is not what the Center was founded for and it is most certainly not anything I care to fund. Raising your voice against this kind of censorship is fine but I would encourage everyone who actually provides financial support to withdraw it unless this issue is adequately addressed. They'll listen to that far more attentively.

      Reply
    • John February 14, 2013 at 8:25 am

      This is about an anti-Israel group using Sara to advance their two-year campaign against the Center. THis is disruptive, counterproductive, and frankly a bore. There are many places for queers to organize against Israel. Doing it at the Center and turning the Center into a place that's unwelcoming for others is just wrong. Good for the Center.

      Reply
  3. Chip Duckett February 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    You can disagree with Sarah Schulman if you like, but do not DARE throw the word "crackpot" into the mix. She is a brilliant woman and a respected and reasonable voice.

    Crackpot?

    AWARDS:
    Guggenheim (Playwrighting), Fulbright (Judaic Studies), 2 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships – Fiction, 1 NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship – Playwrighting, Kessler Prize for Sustained Contribution to LGBT Studies, Stonewall Award for Improving the Lives of Gays and Lesbians in the United States, Revson Fellow for the Future of New York City at Columbia University, Fellow – NY Institute for the Humanities at New York University, 6 residencies at MacDowell, 3 residencies at Yaddo, 2 American Library Association Stonewall Book Awards – fiction/nonfiction, Brown Foundation/Houston Arts Museum Fellow at the Dora Maar House, Fellow – University of Toronto Bonham Center for Sexual Diversity Studies

    Choose your words more carefully, sir.

    Reply
    • busterbobby February 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      I didn't call her a crackpot. You need to read more carefully. I was simply trying to demonstrate that at some point along a continuum, all of us would agree that a certain gay person's positions do not merit sponsorship, depending on the outlandishness of that position. That point obviously varies for different people.

      And pardon me, but I'll DARE just as much as I like. Or are YOU trying to censor ME? Shulman can DARE to demonize 98% of Israel's Jewish population, but I'm not allowed to suggest that she might be a little bit off.

      Nice list of credentials, but credentials in and of themselves impress me very little. I'm sure David Horowitz and Bill O'Reilly can produce equally impressive ones.

      Finally, all of this is beside the point anyway. The point is that the Center doesn't want to involve itself in the Palestine/Israel conflict in any way. Considering the unheaval that resulted when Judith Butler last tried to bring her circus to town, I don't blame them. And no, I don't apologize for referring to Judith Butler's entourage as a circus, credentials and all.

      Reply
      • @Brenshu February 14, 2013 at 1:15 am

        You are right, you didn't *say* Sarah Schulman was a crackpot. You just implied by likening her to Newton Shooting conspiracy theorists.

        By silencing the voices of queer writers who have the temerity to criticize Israel the Center has involved itself in the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

        Reply
      • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 9:47 am

        If you're suggesting that 98% of Israel's population is "demonized" by the idea that Israeli government policies violate human rights, I'd say you're the anti-Semite. Part of what this is about is the idea that Jews (like me) are not represented by Israel.

        Many Israeli Jews (like my family) are in agony about their situation — much like many white people in the US who understand the racism that colors our ability to live well here, whether or not we can stomach a real solution to it. Israelis' analysis of the situation varies across the political spectrum: because Israelis of my generation have been effectively completely separated from Palestinians since we were kids (when Israel threw out Palestinian workers and replaced them with Ethiopians and Filipinos) many get their information about the Occupation through the filter of the Israeli spin machine, and accordingly Palestinians are dehumanized even on the Israeli "left."

        But the idea that 98% of Israelis think that challenging the Israeli government is an attack on them is a delusion constructed for you right here in NYC by the JCRC and friends. The idea that it's an attack on Jews is even siller.

        Reply
        • busterbobby February 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

          You misunderstand me. Schulman does not bother me because she opposes Israeli government policy. I oppose Israeli government policy myself. And having lived in Israel, I am well aware of the tremendous diversity of opinion regarding relations with the Palestinians. I oppose Schuman’s appearance because she is sponsored by QAIA and appears to be in sympathy with their aims, which are to turn Israel uniquely into an international paraiah state, to ban Israeli academics of whatever pont of view from speaking overseas, and to even ban Israeli teenagers from speaking outside of Israel.

          Reply
          • Guest February 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

            "The point is that the Center doesn't want to involve itself in the Palestine/Israel conflict in any way."

            Censorship = involvement.

  4. Jeffrey February 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    What a shame to people who claim to be so open minded. Such a punch in the face.

    Reply
  5. Richard Jackman February 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Sarah Schulman is one of the most important queer writers and thinkers in America today. (Read her "Gentrification of the Mind" — brilliant!) Her analysis of Israel's use of LGBT tourism propaganda (for which she coined the term "pinkwashing") is thoughtful and provocative. I also know her personally — ironically I met her in an ACT UP meeting at the Center — and she has always struck me as a kind and compassionate person. I'm appalled that the Center is censoring what views can and cannot be discussed there, from what I've heard, basically because some of the Center's funders won't allow anything critical of Israel to happen on "their" turf. But guess what? The Center also receives an awful lot of government funding. Something to consider as people strategize their response. And the Center does not belong to a few rich funders. It belongs to all of us.

    Reply
    • busterbobby February 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm

      "Pinkwashing" is one of the most offensive, blanket generalizations that has ever been tossed out, but because it's coined by an "important" queer theorist, it suddenly becomes brilliant. It's a stereotype, a grotesque over-simplification. But this is where the "progressive" left and the extreme right join hands, in their common fervor to reduce the most complex of situations to a sound-bite.

      Reply
      • Lorenzo Penza February 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

        Sarah Schulman was integral in the founding of ACT UP, which fought for the rights of gay people in the face of aggressive opposition. She has written dozen of well-researched books. She's a distinguished professor. She lectures at universities, conferences, and intellectual gathering all over the world. If this doesn't make her "important", I wonder what the definition of "important". Certainly, her contributions to queer culture surpasses those of Michael Lucas. Speaking of which, if Lucas is so confident in hos own convictions, why won;t he allow the other side ONE night to present their case. If that were to happen, he would be allowed to attack each point the other side makes. However, he's chosen the extremely cowardly route of holding the Center's funding hostage, which appears to be a sign of insecurity on his part.

        Reply
    • Laura February 14, 2013 at 1:54 am

      Sarah Schulman was NOT censored. Sarah Schulman NEVER applied to speak at the LGBTQ Center.

      It was Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) who applied for the meeting space.

      Reply
    • John February 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

      I agree that the Center belongs to us all — and that's why its important not to let a small number of people who want to organize on non-lgbt issues like the Israel/Palestinian conflict turn the Center into their campaign headquarters. There are lots of places to organize on Israel, people. Not so many to organize around and just be LGBT. Leave the Center alone.

      Reply
      • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

        How is Palestinian queer organizing for self-determination, and the use of queer rights to cover abuses of human rights, a "non-lgbt issue?" How is an issue that the queer community is actively organizing on, worldwide and in NYC, not relevant in a queer space?

        Reply
  6. Justin Yockel February 13, 2013 at 8:37 pm

    Fittingly, much of Schulman's book is devoted to examining knee-jerk (re)actions taken without evidence. Since at least the end of 2009, Schulman has studied the Israel/Palestine conflict in an inspiring search for integrity and justice and arrives at the conclusion that at this point the treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government is nothing less than apartheid. Schulman, an inspiring thinker and longtime New York activist, witnesses firsthand the effects of the Israeli security apparatus to create a (profitable) underclass. In the book, she describes her decision to decline a speaking engagement at the LGBT Studies Conference in Tel Aviv (because it was state sponsored) and join the boycott by organizing a solidarity visit with queers in both Palestine and Israel. The Center should be encouraging someone who's devoted so much time to examine this issue, not fearfully shutting her down. Who's hijacking whom?

    Reply
  7. Jim Eigo February 13, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Thank you, Duncan, for bringing this to our attention. If I got down in writing how deeply I admire Sarah Schulman—as a person, as a playwright, as a novelist, as a social critic, as a cultural thinker, as a theoretician, as a speaker, as an activist, as an artist—I would certainly embarrass myself and probably Sarah too. I think that both of the recent documentaries about ACT UP, How to Survive a Plague and United in Anger, help fill in the historical record about AIDS activism and will prove useful activist tools. But let’s face it: ACT UP’s least incomplete history in the end will be that monumental effort, the ACT UP Oral History Project, and the intellectual underpinnings of that endeavor are Sarah Schulman’s (not to overlook Jim Hubbard, Sarah’s invaluable co-conspirator in that effort). I hope ACT UP, which continues to meet at the Center and over the years has flushed a considerable fortune in rental fees into the Center’s bank account, finds an effective way to protest the Center’s latest outrageous, dumb, tone-deaf, unjust action.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: MuzzleWatch » NY’s LGBT Center acting like medieval church: bans Sarah Schulman

  9. John Magisano February 13, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    I have never weighed in on this controversy at the center in re QAIA. It disturbed me but as I stopped going to the center or supporting them financially years ago, I decided I had no horse in this race. But this is over the line. Brooklyn College recently did the right thing and allowed a controversial forum take place on the principle that the answer to free speech you do not like is to engage in more free speech.

    For the Center to engage in this kind of censorship, especially when it takes public funding and claims to be a center for the WHOLE community. Let the queer zionists have a forum to offer their point of view.

    If this is to accommodate rich board members and contributors, then they should resign and the executive director should be fired.

    Reply
  10. Tom Leger February 13, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    An online petition has been started in support of Sarah Schulman, urging the LGBT Center to change their policy of censorship: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-lgbt-center-o

    Reply
  11. Matt Kirschbaum February 13, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    The implications of the nixing f this event can't be overstated. It puts into clear light the unreasonable amount of influence wealthy donors have over this organization. It's a true eye opener and will discourage me donating to the Center in the future.

    Reply
  12. guest February 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    Maybe they'd get more mileage with a less offensive title than "Israeli Apartheid Week." I would say the Arab countries practice a good deal more than "apartheid" when they don't allow Jews into their country and jail Christian preachers. In fact, Arab-Israelis are members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, and one recently served in the cabinet. Let's see Saudi Arabia, Jordan, et al., make the same claim for non-Muslims.

    Reply
  13. yuriconalc February 13, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    This is genuinely outrageous.

    Reply
  14. guest February 13, 2013 at 10:06 pm

    Maybe they'd get more mileage with a less offensive title than "Israeli Apartheid Week." I would say the Arab countries practice a good deal more than "apartheid" when they don't allow Jews into their country and jail Christian preachers. In fact

    Reply
  15. anon February 13, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    @Jim Eigo: "I hope ACT UP, which continues to meet at the Center and over the years has flushed a considerable fortune in rental fees into the Center’s bank account, finds an effective way to protest the Center’s latest outrageous, dumb, tone-deaf, unjust action."

    Agreed.

    Reply
  16. Sheri Clemons February 13, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I think the Center is mistaken in not allowing Ms. Schulman to read, and in not renting the room to the QAIA. This is not a meeting or reading I would attend. I can understand the Center's concern over the controversial nature of the subject matter. However, free speech and free association are vital to the integrity of our GLBT community and Center.

    I don't think that I have been "pink washed" by Israel. It is a fact that LGBT people are treated much better in Israel than in any Islamic culture that I am aware of. Moreover, I abhor the international terrorism propagated by Palestinian and pro Palestinian operatives since the late 1960s. Nonetheless, if a GLBT group wants to have a meeting at the Center to discuss why GLBT people should overlook these issues and be more supportive of the Palestinian people, I believe they should be able to do that, space permitting. (Just like any other group).

    One of the reasons I have always loved the Center is that any GLBT group (except NAMBLA) could meet there. The resulting diversity is the Center's strength. The Center would be stronger for allowing the meeting/reading to proceed. People who are offended by the meeting or the organizers simply need not attend.

    I hope the Center Board revisits this issue and changes the policy.

    Reply
    • Roman Fingers February 14, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      So, you admit that a "line" must be drawn somewhere because of your belief in denying, as I agree, NAMBLA a platform even though their membership is mostly comprised of gay men, and even though there are centuries of literature they cite to justify their crimes. To allow an American LGBT outlet lacking infinite resources to be sidetracked by the political death spiral that has been for ages the Middle East Conflict is to deny the realities of fully funding the limited movement just here in the USA for LGBT quality of life issues to be advanced. I am not a "Zionist" (which is just one of the 1,000's of politically ambiguous value-laden labels tossed at each other in the Middle East verbal melees) but I am a US citizen who knows a bit of the history more than seven decades long, predating the time when the United Nations started taking on the centuries old question of the establishment of a nation state for Jews, later resulting in the State of Israel. Both sides in this conflict, as well as many of their near and far neighbors have blood on their hands. But Israel exists, the Palestinians exist and many foreign influences fight their internecine conflicts by proxy in both communities. The New York LGBT community can easily travel to Brooklyn College, an institution whose primary purpose is to foster intelligent informed debate to educate about a worldwide multitude of issues. One LGBT center lacks the resources to host one author, and the end of freedom of speech is upon us? Let's be a little more reality based and not become histrionic to embellish our personal reactions, okay? The Middle East Debate in all its facets has plenty of forums from which all sides can espouse their views. Would all of those forums be open to helping resolve those issues particular to the American LGBT community in and around New York City?

      Reply
  17. Jay Michaelson February 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    As a pro-peace Zionist who has publicly disagreed with Sarah Schulman's views in print (http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/147026/pinkwashing-is-not-black-and-white/) I think this decision is outrageous. The LGBTQ Jewish organization I direct, Nehirim (www.nehirim.org) will not hold or cosponsor any events at this so-called community center until this gag rule is lifted. At least not as long as I'm director.
    I call on folks who are anti-Zionist or anti-Occupation to state that banning pro-Israel LGBT groups (such as A Wider Bridge) would be equally offensive to the values our community is meant to stand for.
    This debate should not be about Israel/Palestine or pinkwashing or the merits of Sarah's ideas, but about what a "community center" does. It provides space for our community to meet. While we could come up with weird hypotheticals about who maybe should possibly be excluded, obviously Sarah Schulman is not that person.

    Reply
    • Laura February 14, 2013 at 2:07 am

      Jay Michelson-
      Sarah Schulman was NOT censored. Sarah Schulman NEVER applied to speak at the LGBTQ Center. It was Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) who applied for the meeting space.
      I assume that it now the official policy of the Board of Directors and the membership of Nehirim to support Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA)?

      Reply
  18. Gail S. Goodman February 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    And you wonder why you don't have a better mix at the Center in NYC. Do you even know who Sarah Shulman is and her roll in the community these past 30 years. Her book tour will continue and it will be an embarishment that the center boycotted her. You should all be ashamed of the center's decision. I suppose if her book was on one of the many 12 step programs you run she would have been welcomed with open arms. This is just disgusting!

    Reply
  19. Sarah Chinn February 13, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I was executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies when we awarded Sarah Schulman with the Kessler Lectureship for contributions to queer studies. It was a unanimous decision by the CLAGS board, and she spoke from Ties that Bind, her incredible book about familial homophobia. Sarah has a voracious intellect: in the past five years she has published three important books on very different social phenomena: homophobia as a social force, gentrification in the wake of AIDS, and the interconnections between transnational LGBT rights movements and the Israel/Palestine conflict. She's certainly in the top two or three most distinguished lesbian novelists in the US — prolific and unafraid of stylistic experimentation. I won't even mention her contributions to feminist and queer activism, from anti-sterilization campaigns in the 1970s to ACT UP in the 1980s and co-founding the Lesbian Avengers in the 1990s. It's astounding to me that the Center has blackballed her for explicitly ideological reasons, and calls the leadership of the Center in question in fundamental ways.

    Reply
  20. Chip Duckett February 13, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    "busterbobby," my name is Chip Duckett — I am happy to use my real name as I speak in support of Sarah Schulman, though you apparently are not willing to do so when attacking her.

    I certainly read your comments carefully. I know exactly what you said, and understood the implication of your tossing that incendiary word into your post, and my response was appropriate.

    As I said, you are welcome to disagree with her. You are NOT welcome to denigrate someone that I know to be honorable, and reasonable, and brilliant. Whether you like it or not, Sarah is an extremely important voice in this community. She certainly deserves a forum to discuss her book, just as you deserve the chance to dispute her point of view. There's certainly an intelligent argument against what Sarah posits, and I know she wouldn't shy away from a lively discussion, "busterbobby." (By the way — she signs HER real name every single time she writes something, even if what she writes will piss off a few people. So do I. You might give that a try sometime, "busterbobby.")

    And by the way — the day Bill O'Reilly can show Guggenheim/Fullbright/Kessler et. al. awards/fellowships…well, we don't really need to address that question, for obvious reasons.

    Reply
    • busterbobby February 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      I’m thrilled, Chp Duckett, that you choose to use your real name. How many points would you like for that? And once again, you generously allow me to disagree, while regally establishing what I may NOT do. And Sarah uses her real name, too. That certainly settles all of the issues that have been raised here.

      Reply
  21. Laura February 14, 2013 at 1:45 am

    Sarah Schulman was NOT censored. Sarah Schulman NEVER applied to speak at the LGBTQ Center.

    It was Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) who applied for the meeting space– knowing the Center's established policy on Israel and Palestine and knowing that it would create a very calculated provocation.The irony is that QAIA and it's sister anti-Israel groups' have a long track record of censoring anyone and/or any discussion/open dialogue with anyone who challenges/opposes it's anti-Israel mission.

    Where was the "community" rage last year when a QAIA's sister group censored a delegation of young Gay Israeli leaders visiting Seattle & whom at the last minute pressured the Seattle LGBT Commission to censor a meeting with these gay leaders from Israel? (A censorship which Sarah Schulman openly celebrated).
    Where is the rage when Jewish and Israeli academics and cultural groups are censored?

    Where is the rage, when Sarah Schulman engages in censorship at her "Homonationalism and Pinkwashing Conference?" At an "academic conference" Schulman has deliberately censored any speakers whom do not agree with her positions (just look at the list of speakers she selected).

    This manufactured action illustrates why these issues get so contentious and disruptive: it's because the anti Israel vs Palestine activists are never above race-baiting, faking outrages, censorship, and other dirty tricks. They co-opt other people's causes and spaces like a retrovirus.

    Reply
    • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

      Sarah and QAIA are engaged in the same work — and it is that work, in which much of the queer community is engaged, that the Center has banned. (In fact, few issues are more front and center in queer political organizing right now than Palestine.)

      The work of QAIA and Sarah that the Center is banning is this:
      1) exposing Israel's pinkwashing of the occupation, and
      2) supporting the human and civil rights of Palestinian queers, which are inseparable from the human and civil rights currently denied to all Palestinians.

      Palestinian queers have clearly articulated that they cannot have "queer rights" under an occupation in which there are no rights at all. The Center ban covers anyone working with or in support of Palestinian queers who are trying to secure their rights. Seems pretty straightforward.

      Reply
      • mikepdx February 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

        Really? When and where was this survey of "Palestinian queers" taken? Or is this just a convenient catch-all for someone else's rabidly anti-Israel agenda? Palestinians who I know who are queer thank Allah they are not in Palestine, because unlike in Israel, they would be killed for being gay.

        Reply
        • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 1:23 pm

          Palestinian queers are organized and speak for themselves. Google is your friend.

          Reply
          • Dmitriy M February 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

            so why do they keep organizing their "palestinian queer parties" in "apartheid tel aviv"?
            Why is gay murdering palestine not nice enough???

    • Andy Podell February 14, 2013 at 11:58 am

      Laura, are you saying Sarah wasn't aware that she had allied herself with Queers Against Israeli Apartheid when they made a request to The Center to present her book? There seems to be a concerted effort here to separate Sarah from QAIA but that distinction doesn't seem to be one shared by Sarah Schulman herself. If you're looking for "community" you can find it in Sarah's principled support of QAIA. She's sharing their marginalization by an institution that no longer represents much of the LGBT community. By her actions Sarah is creating LGBT community. She's putting community back into "The Center".

      Reply
    • @cornetmustich February 14, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      shame on a people of a holocaust for acting so viciously in israel-palestine……

      Reply
      • Laura February 14, 2013 at 9:52 pm

        Your anti-Semitism is a bit too transparent.

        Reply
  22. Jon Winkleman February 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Siege Busters which initially rented the Center for an event to raise money for a flotilla intent on creating a hostile confrontation with Israel's military. The language used in promoting the event of the non-LGBT ortganization was felt to be anti-Semetic which is what led to the event being cancelled. The members of Siege Busters then used anti-Semetic stereotypes right out of the Protocals of Zion claiming that the "Rich Jewish Donors" were forcing them out. With the exception Michael Lucas most of and the first voices to complain to the Center about the anti-Semetic language of Sieige Busters were not wealthy people. Siege Busters knew this but kept repeating the rhetoric about the evil rich Jews.

    The people behind the first event then cynically reorganized calling themselves calling themselves Queers Against Israeli Apartheid to reapply for the same event using the same "evil rich Jews" rhetoric. The same coalition of activists defends and whitewashes the homophobia of the political organization Hamas which advocates the killing of LGBT Palestinians and then accuses Israel of "pink washing" which by some bizzare definition means Israel is progressive and actually ahead on equality for it's LGBT citizens only because they want to cover up their mistreatment of Palestinians so LGBT equality in Israel is actually a bad thing.

    For the record many of the Siege Busters and QAIA critics are also very critical of how Israel treats Palestinians and support a 2 state solution. However QAIA is not for a peaceful resolution in the middle east but a unilateral dismantleling of Israel and expelling all Jews from the region.

    Their claims of censorship are also cynical and hypocritical as the same activists have pressured organizers of other forums to ban speakers who were going to talk about LGBT rights in the middle east and use Israel as an example of a safe place for LGBT people both Jewish and Palestinian. The US Social Forum was scheduled to have panelists on both sides of this issue speak and the Siege Busters insisted that any pro-Israel speakers be banned from speaking. At first the organizers refused to censor anyone. The Siege Buster activists then put enormous pressure on the US Social Forum board until they capitulated and banned anyone who disagreed with them from participating in or organizing any panels.

    I am willing to engage a conversation about censorship when Sarah and QAIA also condemn the anti-Israeli activists who censor other views. I asked this question to Sarah at a Center town hall on the subject and she dodged the question. I personally like Sarah and admire the other work she has done.

    Pauline Park is the executive director of Queens Pride House and the chair of their board. At that same town hall I asked Pauline if she might want to save the Siege Buster event and invite them to use space at Queens Pride House. Of course we know that in the past 2 years the executive director of a nearby LGBT community center has yet to host an fundraiser or book reading for QAIA but meanwhile has made multiple comments to the press as a member of QAIA attacking the 13th St Center for not hosting events she won't host herself.

    I openly challenge Ms Park to host the book reading and offer Queen Pride House as a space for a QAIA fundraiser.

    I openly challenge Sarah Schulman to condemn the censorship at the US Social Forum of opposing viewpoints to her own.

    I do not support censorship. However the cynical dishonest and manipulative manner QAIA activists have repeated tried to provoke conflict at the Center is not about an honest debate of the issue. To date they have never tried to put together a real Town forum to discuss the arguments of both sides. That QAIA would book the Center during Israeli Apartheid Week, the same event the first fundraiser was planned on, says a great deal about their intentions regarding the Center.

    Reply
    • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

      Wow, that is incredibly disingenuous, not to mention dangerous! If anyone would like to know what QAIA is *actually* about (rather than through the crazy straw of the above post) visit QAIA's blog: http://queersagainstisraeliapartheid.blogspot.com

      Reply
      • Laura February 14, 2013 at 11:43 am

        I just looked at QAIA and its sister anti-Israel blogs and websites.What is clearer to me now is that their targeted boycotting of Israel as a whole, including all of its academics and thought leaders, proponents of QAIA /BDS engage in the very act they condemn in others.
        If that’s not hypocrisy, what is?

        Mr. Winkleman says it best: "….the cynical dishonest and manipulative manner QAIA activists have repeated tried to provoke conflict at the Center is not about an honest debate of the issue."

        While Sarah Schulman dodges questions, (as I indicated above), she continues to actively engage in censorship. At her upcoming "academic", "Homonationalism and Pinkwashing Conference," Schulman has deliberately censored any speakers whom do not agree with her positions (just look at the list of speakers she selected).

        One has to ask why Schulman and her comrades continue to censor opposing perspectives, and why they refuse to openly debate any who disagree with their perspective?

        Reply
    • Tom Leger February 14, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Jon, that narrative about the wealthy donors is one perpetrated by Michael Lucas, not the activists. During the town hall, Lucas yelled at the room, "WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITHOUT OUR MONEY?"

      Good news, we don't want or need your money, wealthy people! ACT UP was not started with foundation grants! Go buy a Ferrari and take a bath in champagne for all we care. No one, not Ms. Schulman, not QAIA, has ever asked that groups with opposing viewpoints be barred from the LGBT Center, because proponents of free speech know that to censor any speech is to threaten all speech.

      BTW only a small minority of the Homonationalism conference addresses the issue of the Israeli occupation. There are queers throughout the rest of the world, ya know. (conference schedule is freely viewable to all at http://www.homonationalism.org)

      Reply
      • Dmitriy February 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

        except Tom you're forgetting that ACTUP's goals were to keep gay people from dying. Yet ignoring Palestinian homophobia because it's not as in as screaming "israeli apartheid" continues to do the exact opposite.

        Reply
      • Jon Winkleman February 17, 2013 at 7:24 pm

        Tom: ACT UP at it's most powerful and effective had a large budget that rented a huge office space along with enormous photocopy machines, computers and office supplies. ACT UP paid for many members to fly not only around the country but the world to attend events such as the World AIDS Conferences. When needed ACT UP also paid for their hotel rooms. ACT UP also took out a number of full page ads in the NY Times that cost a small fortune. I was very involved with old ACT UP and it would be completely revisionist to claim that they did not greatly benefit from the generosity of donors, some very wealthy donors who wrote big checks or left some of their estate to ACT UP when they died.

        That aside, ACT UP and many other organizations greatly benefit from cheap meeting space at the Center that includes elevators and ramps for the handicapped, heating, electricity, microphones and PA equipment in large forums other infrastructure that was not free.

        Michael Lucas has a loud mouth. However unlike most boycotts he never produced a list of donors supporting him. QAIA has never shown any evidence beyond the words of a single person's threat, Mr Lucas, that a group of rich pro-Zionist donors are responsible for the Center's actions.

        If anything it is the intellectual responsibility of those making a claim to back it up. I want to see a list of powerful people aside from Lucas who threatened the Center.

        Also as a personal observation that seems like common sense, the moratorium also banned pro-Israel events. If there was a cabal of powerful wealthy pro-Zionist Jews seeking to censor one side of this debate, why did the Center create a moratorium that also bans them as well? Doesn't make sense when you cut through the inflammatory rhetoric and think about what actually happened.

        Reply
    • Michael Bouldin February 14, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      QAIA and Siegebusters are actually quite typical of parts of the Palestine Solidarity movement. Setting aside how one feels about their goals and language, it's quite obvious that these are not shared broadly by the U.S. public in general and New Yorkers in particular.

      In response, these groups don't moderate their stances per se, but try to capture the institutions other, more successful political movements have built – such as the LGBT rights movement.

      Reply
    • Stuart Baanstra February 15, 2013 at 11:17 pm

      Jon, if "Israel is progressive and ahead on equality for its LGBT citizens", can you tell me how queer Jewish people reconciled themselves with a bible describing them as an abomination, or is there something that I've missed?

      Reply
      • Jon Winkleman February 17, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        Stuart:
        Queer Jews recognize that the Old Testament also prohibits wearing fabrics made with mixed fibers. Though I personally find poly/cotton to be an abomination, I look to how the vast majority of modern Jews treat LGBT people. Israel today does not ban fabric blends, demand that adulterers be stoned or require by law that menstruating women be forcibly locked up and separated from society.

        I also do not judge Islamic governments by outdated civil law woven into ancient religious text but how they govern people today.
        The Hamas faction in Gaza believes LGBT people should be killed and it is the responsibility of their friends and neighbors to kill them. In fact there are a number of LGBT Gaza refugees who fled to Tel Aviv knowing that as former Gaza refugees they would be living under house arrest. Still these LGBT Palestinians felt safer and preferred to live under house arrest and the scrutiny of Israeli security knowing that they were not at risk from physical harm, than to stay in Hamas controlled regions of Gaza where they risk being killed while the Hamas will either encourage or refuse to stop their murders. The Israeli government and it's laws protect all LGBT people from anti-LGBT violence be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

        As someone who is presumably a critic of not only Israel but Jews as a religion and an ethnic group, I am more agnostic/ atheist myself, reconcile with the actual record of deed of Hamas towards Queer Palestinians in Gaza?

        Reply
  23. Richard Jackman February 14, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Jon Winkleman's post is the first one criticizing Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Sarah Schulman that actually includes facts and history to back up its arguments. Other posters, take note. If you want to change minds, you have to add factual information and rational argument to the debate.

    It doesn't hurt that I know Jon as well as I know Sarah, and respect them both — they are both outspoken, honest people. So it also doesn't hurt that Jon signs his real name. If we are to be a community that can have honest, open debate about things that matter, we have to be able to stand up for and own our opinions and not be afraid to have those opinions challenged by others. The Center's actions do not contribute to that open debate at all; if what Jon says is correct, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid and Queens Pride House are guilty of similar censorship. Since he makes very specific claims I now have the opportunity to follow up if I like and see for myself if I agree with his assessment of their actions. Folks, that's how debate and the development of ideas works in an open society; read his post and learn.

    Reply
    • Laura February 14, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Calling for a boycott of Israel as a whole, including all of its academics and thought leaders, proponents of BDS (including Sarah Schulman) engage in the very act they condemn in others. If that’s not hypocrisy, what is?

      Reply
      • Emmaia Gelman February 14, 2013 at 11:28 am

        If you read the BDS call, it explains that it calls for boycott of Israeli academic institutions because of the ways that they reinforce apartheid, and do not embody academic freedom. It's easy to rail against a set of ideas when you define them any way you want!

        Reply
      • Jack February 14, 2013 at 8:19 pm

        Give me a break. You clearly didn't read Schulman's book, where she descirbes her travel's to Israel/Palestine (yes, she stayed in Israel and spent money there… gasp!!!!) – nor her description of BDS in the same work, which she supports as a boycott of Israeli government institutions and institutions acception government funding. Yes, that includes boycotting speaking at universities that accept government funding. Not everyone in the BDS movement agrees with all aspects of the boycott (something else you would have noticed had you taken the time to read Schulman's book), but to say she calls "for a boycott of Israel as a whole" is a patent lie.

        Reply
  24. Pingback: NYC LGBT Center bars Sarah Schulman from discussing book on Israel/Palestine | Mondoweiss

  25. K Davis February 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

    The continued ban against pro-Palestinian queer groups at the Center is absurd, and their refusal to let Schulman present her new book there just highlights that fact (whether she applied for a permit directly, or a group applied on her behalf).

    It's tempting for those in charge to prevent meeting and activities of those they disagree with, but very wrong. So much for an inclusive "center."

    Reply
  26. Michelle Baker February 14, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Unconscionable that The Center would take this position. You'd think free speech and tolerance of alternative views would be a priority. The Isreali/Palestinian situation is difficult and complex but shutting down the voices of those who don't share your position is like out shouting an opponent in a debate, brutal, dirty play and, ultimately, counterproductive.

    Reply
  27. Marcelo February 14, 2013 at 10:21 am

    And by 'banning' this event, they are now giving a lot of unintended publicity to a probably average book. I wonder how Schulman feels about LGBTi oppression in Cuba, Venezuela, all of the Arab World, North Korea, China, Central Asia, Russia, most of Eastern Europe, all of sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc… I guess writing anything Israel-related just sells better.

    Reply
    • Duncan Mitchel February 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      Maybe you should try reading the book; you have no idea what you're talking about. But there's plenty of material available about antigay oppression around the world. It sells pretty well. (I notice how selective your own list is, by the way: mostly official enemies of the US, whose crimes are always safe to publicize.) It's probably also true "writing anything Israel-related just sells better," but that goes for writing pro-Israel material, and probably is even more true. Has there ever been a pro-Palestinian equivalent of Leon Uris's "Exodus," for instance?

      Reply
  28. Laura February 14, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Calling for a boycott of Israel as a whole, including all of its academics and thought leaders, proponents of BDS (like Sarah Schulman) engage in the very act they condemn in others. If that’s not hypocrisy, what is?

    Reply
    • @cornetmustich February 14, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      apartheid needs to be dealt with…

      Reply
      • myackie February 14, 2013 at 6:22 pm

        Then you should consider boycotting all arab countries…

        Reply
  29. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Although I'm not familiar with this writer's written words-I'm much too busy now with my own- I have to agree that The Center is no place to discuss political views that don't have a direct bearing on the Gay Community-its members- relatives- and friends.
    And I'm the person who Robert Woodworth had police escorted out of the building on Little West 12th Street 13 Halloween Parties ago because I was openly opposed to having alcoholic drinks sold to minors for a dollar a piece
    And I haven't gone back to The Center since then!.

    Reply
    • Jack February 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Schulman's book is on glbt organizing in Israel/Palestine, including the upsurge in queer Palestinian organizing over the past several years and the way the Schulman as a queer Jewish American came to discover and understand the needs and aspirations of progressive queers organizing in Israel/Palestine. How does that not have a direct bearing on the gay community?

      Reply
  30. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 11:54 am

    I stopped reading Gay City News when it became a twin to The New Amsterdam News-A Pot Smoker's Rights Paper-and-Don't Stop and Frisk Leader.
    Thankfully, it has now gone back to a publication to advance the rights of Gays as was originally intended.
    Let this writer push her book with views on the mid East crisis where people who are involved in this very serious subject will go to hear what she has to say about it.

    Reply
  31. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 11:54 am

    That said, I'd also like to say that Christine Quinn has blanketed the building with millions upon millions of tax payer's dollars, and continues to do so with a yearly endowment coming directly from the city's coffers.
    Not all taxpayers are either Palestine or Israeli sympathizes.
    My views on that subject are my own and will gladly be shared at a different forum than this one here.
    I've been more than happy to tell of all the wonderful Jewish Friends I've had in the past, and the ones who are still alive to be with me today.
    However, there are many more convenient and proper places within the immediate vicinity where discussions of this much needed sort can be successfully held.
    Gays have become so successful in their freedom to be themselves that they can now take on all the problems of the world?

    Reply
  32. Jim Eigo February 14, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    To Perley J. Thibodeau: Sarah's work directly engages queer issues and LGBT people–they also happen to be issues of global import.

    Reply
    • Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      And this latest work does also?
      She knew the rules of the house and she broke them for publicity purposes.
      And it's worked.
      One thing I don't abide by is cheap publicity stunts in order to push anyone's self serving agenda!

      Reply
      • Jim Eigo February 14, 2013 at 1:22 pm

        The title of the book, as the article states, is: Israel/ Palestine and the Queer International.

        Reply
        • Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm

          And of course, you are the publisher or simply the advanceman?

          Reply
    • Stacy Williams February 14, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      By "directly engages" you mean "writes mind-numbing propaganda in obscure journals read by a few dozen people."

      If she were sincere about directly engaging "queers," as she maliciously calls gay/lesbian people, then she would take her big ideas to Gaza. She should have a huge reading there. The reception would be unforgettable. I would pay money to see that.

      Reply
      • Dmitriy M February 16, 2013 at 12:58 pm

        I would too in fact i'd book her a one way trip to gaza!!!

        Reply
  33. Duncan MItchel February 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    It's ironic that Michael Lucas should be pressuring the Center to exclude certain points of view, when he was whining in the gay press a couple of years ago that "supergays" and "superlesbians" made some photos of him disappear from a news site. Thanks to pressure from his own supergay friends, the pictures were restored. But it's a typical American (and unfortunately, glbt) attitude: freedom of speech for me but not for thee.

    @Laura: There's nothing hypocritical about calling for a boycott of Israel, in whole or in part. Gay people have often used boycotts, sometimes successfully. Hypocrisy comes in when you claim the right to use pressure against others yourself, but yell indignantly when someone uses it on you. It is not "the very act they condemn in others." Your overblown rhetoric indicates that you're ill-informed about BDS, possibly deliberately.

    Reply
  34. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    CENSORED!!!!

    Reply
  35. Scott Piro February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Hanukkah comes early this year!

    Reply
  36. Robert Vazquez February 14, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    It is clear that not in one thing alone, but in many ways equality and freedom of speech are a good thing.

    Herodotus

    I begin to feel like most Americans don't understand the First Amendment, don't understand the idea of freedom of speech, and don't understand that it's the responsibility of the citizen to speak out.

    Robert Ebert

    It is easy to believe in freedom of speech for those with whom we agree.

    Leo McKern

    Reply
  37. jim fouratt February 14, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    As one of the four core people who originally organized to create the NYC Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center (the language of the '80's) and sat in, organized and agitated, even meeting with Mayor Koch until we succeeded . As one of the people who co-formed the interim Board of Directors and choose the members of the first formal Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center Board of Directors I am outraged at what has happened to a space that was conceived bottom line as a "safe space for all lesbians and gay men". Note the word ALL. .While language has changed the basic idea has not: We wanted to and though we did create a place for discourse and conversations about who we are and what kind of world we wanted to live in. Sarah Schulman has earned the right to be respected and to be listened to by all of us . Discourse on difficult subjects that are present my our community and our individual lives was a basic goal in creating this center. When I tried to meet with the Executive Director to speak of history and intention I was rebuffed. So much for putting my homo ass on the line for my community. To this day neither she or the Board has ever spoken to me on this issue or sought my historical perspective or advice on any issue. So much for a Senior activist's experience. I apologize to Sarah and to all the people who have been shut out of the Community Center. I can tell you what happened to you was never our intent. I believe in free and fair discourse. Listening to each other helps all of us grow. Silencing any one of us is dangerous and turns its back on the founding principles of this Center. But this is not the first time power politic and money has trumped an open and free discussion..The true history of the founding of the Center has been suppressed for some of the same reasons Schulman was not allowed to speak. Shame on the Board and Shame on Ms. Testone. And please .. stop the spin of she did not apply. Freedom of speech does not exist at the Center. Period. And to porn king Lucas, you should know best that when you suppress freedom of expression you put your self and your millions at risk too. To my queer children: rise up and seize the time . Stonewall was a rebellion and a revolt against oppression. Act Up please and create a safe space for difficult discussions. Our freedoms and humanity depend on it. I stand with yo

    Jim Fouratt

    Reply
    • Jack February 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      The fact that you refer to yourself as a "homo" and to gay people as "queer children" shows that you have deep-seated issues relating to self-hatred and internalized homophobia. Given this, it is probably wise for the Center and for all of us to listen to your advice and then do the opposite.

      Reply
      • Richard Jackman February 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm

        Surely, Jack, you've heard that some of us have chosen to reclaim certain derogatory words for our own use, thus defusing their power for those who would use them against us? "Queer" has been used this way for at least 20 years, with the rise of Queer Nation in activism and Queer Studies in academia. Other words, like "homo" have also been rehabilitated this way to a lesser extent. Whether you agree with this strategy or not, surely you know that some of the most out and proud activists today self-identify as queer? You couldn't possibly be that out of touch, could you?

        Reply
        • Jack February 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm

          I think you are the one out of touch. "Homo" is offensive and derogatory and has not been "rehabilitated" by anyone. "Queer" came into use first as a noble effort to reclaim a slur. That effort was a total failure, and the term is still widely used as a slur today. The other use of queer, as in "queer studies," is to tag gay people as marginal actors in their communities, inherently in conflict with their neighbors and the norms of society. The anti-gay bully who uses "queer" wants gay people to be seen as alienated outsiders and the "queer studies" academics, for their own ideological reasons, agree. That is what Fouratt means when he calls gay people queer and it carries precisely the same meaning as the slur. Fouratt's use of the term is objectively anti-gay. Shame on him.

          Reply
  38. @cornetmustich February 14, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    It's time for peace with justice for Christian, Muslim and secular Palestinians in the W Bank, E Jerusalem, Gaza, and apartheid Israel…. I was a member of the Center back in the early days of ACT UP New York….
    America first, not AIPAC….

    Cheers, Jos. A. Mustich, CT USA

    The Israeli Jews are armed with nukes, yet they continue to kvetch about everyone else…

    Reply
  39. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    As an old newspaperman and now a novelist of fictional based on many facts murder mysteries with a professional female impersonator as the amateur sleuth, I know full well how easy it is to shade any well intentioned penned thought into an extension of the writer's own belief, or point of view on any given subject.
    Right down to being able to send disguised personal messages in the formal printed text that is aimed strictly at friends and loved ones.
    But, I as a writer of both fact and fiction would find it extremely difficult to write an article or book on the possible subject regarding the number of real or supposed, gays who perished in the World Trade Center bombings without casting some sort of aspersions on the religion, and or country of origin of the perpetrators to these horrendous crimes.
    That, of course would be inflammatory on both my part, and also the country of origin that my writings were written and published in.

    Reply
  40. Perley J. Thibodeau February 14, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    We people who live in New York City are completely vulnerable to further destructive acts on the part of terrorists' with an ax to grind, so to speak; and it is completely both needless and dangerous in the first place to drag the safety of all of us into a fight that has been now going on for thousands of years, and many many more so miles away.

    Reply
  41. Pingback: News: Singapore, Tim Tebow, Sarah Schulman, Brahim Zaibat – Towleroad | LGBT Indonesia

  42. Jorge Derizio February 14, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Good for the Center. It isn't hard to see that this booking is just another attempt to stage a protest. The Center doesn't have any obligation to facilitate protests against itself.

    These people represent no one. This woman is not a "leading author" as GCN mis-reports. Few people read what she writes and fewer care about what she has to say. Center space should be used productively for the underserved in our community, not for the vainglory of this failed, obscure faux academic.

    Reply
  43. Bernard February 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    You can also voice your protest directly by going to the LGBT Center's web site and selecting "contact us" at the bottom of the page. I have just sent an email from there. Site: http://www.gaycenter.org/

    Reply
  44. Pingback: News: Singapore, Tim Tebow, Sarah Schulman, Brahim Zaibat | marina bay sands

  45. Pingback: News: Singapore, Tim Tebow, Sarah Schulman, Brahim Zaibat | tebownews.com

  46. Noli February 14, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    As someone mentioned earlier, it is absurd that there is more freedom to discuss and criticize Israeli policies in Israel than in the USA.

    Reply
  47. Pingback: News: Singapore, Tim Tebow, Sarah Schulman, Brahim Zaibat | Singapore Hotel

  48. Jon Winkleman February 15, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Sarah Schulman is not banned from the Center.

    Pro Palestinian positions have not been selectively banned from the Center.

    Rich Powerful Jewish donors are not making these decisions.

    The Center moratorium, which I agree is a poor solution to the problem, is being evenhandedly applied to all events and organizations focused on the Israel/Palestinian conflict including pro-Israel events.

    If Sarah was going have a reading for another book or wanted to rent the Center for e wedding, she would be welcome at the Center.

    Pro-Israeli and pro-Zionist organizations and events have been banned by the moratorium as well. If a cabal of evil rich Jewish Zionist donors was really running the show, do you really think they would be banning themselves as well?

    I would publicly invite Sarah Schulman to co- write and co-sign a community letter, that is non-partisan on the middle east conflict , which jointly urges both the 13th Street Center and the US Social Forum to welcome and allow open civil debate from all sides of this issue. In 2011 Sarah was dodging all questions regarding the censorship at the hands of her colleague at the 2010 US SOcial forum of the one pro Israel speaker.

    Sarah do you really oppose censorship? If so lets do this.

    I will also publicly invite Sarah to add to this letter a condemnation of all who use hateful and divisive racial and ethnic stereotypes of any group such as all Muslims are violent terrorists or that a cabal of rich Jews controls the Center if not the world. Though we can agree that it is vital to support open debate and the freedom to make any clear civil intellectual argument for or against any issue, that divisive rhetoric that seeks to inflame rather than explain actually stops real dialogue, kills actual debate and sows hate and division.

    Reply
    • Perley J. Thibodeau February 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Back when I went to the Center rich Italians ran it.
      They were all members of The Imperial Court.

      Reply
    • Vincent Mauricio February 15, 2013 at 5:31 pm

      Thanks for standing up to these hypocrites, Mr. Winkleman. Sarah Schulman and her "queer studies" gang couldn't care less about a free and open exchange of diverse views. Their academic departments are run like churches – only the true believers are allowed to join.

      I would hope that we could move this debate beyond the Center to the more important issue of why taxpayer money is being used to fund sham academic programs – really just radical political advocacy under the thin guise of academics – like the one at CUNY. Could we gay and lesbian people – who are decidedly not "queer" – not organize to insist that CUNY either terminate the program or transform it into a program that welcomes sincere academic inquiry?

      Reply
  49. Paul Halsall February 15, 2013 at 5:41 am

    "Although I think the LGBT Center is wrong, and also that Israeli efforts to take over the Occupied Palestinian Territories are wrong, I am not yet convinced that Israeli openness to gay people is just a matter of hasbara. If you are gay, Israel, and to a lesser extent Istanbul, are more or less the only parts of the middle east you would want to live.

    Queers should challenge Israel about its treatment of Palestinians (and also in fact immigrant groups from the Philippines, Romania, and Africa), but also need to call out the absolute homophobia of all the surrounding states."

    Reply
  50. Stuart Baanstra February 15, 2013 at 7:11 am

    From a purely LGBTI point of view, I'm yet to come across a single queer activist who challenges the authority of Israel's rabbinical council and its opposition to gay marriage. As the world moves towards marriage for all, it seems to ignore the fact that queer Jewish people will, almost certainly, never have that right.

    New York State marriage, or French marriage, do and will not provide the mechanisms for queer Jewish people to marry. All they do is provide a secular marriage certificate, even if the couple are married in a synagogue. In order for the Jewish queer couple to be truly "married", the certificate must be issued by the ultra-orthodox rabbis back in Israel and that is unlikely to ever happen.

    QAIA's fight for human rights, however noble, is somewhat nullified knowing the most fundamental human right, the right to marry, is refused.

    Reply
  51. Robert Seth Vorisek February 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Sarah is not a "crackpot' – to which she was referred (deny it all you like, read the context in which it was written, and the natural extension is hat she is a crackpot. For a fact, having known her in the early days of ACT UP, I know she is not!) – she is a scholar of deep, moral thought and a woman who take on the more difficult, unseemly topics and tries to parse them into making some sort of sense. She is pretty frakin' brilliant, and I am proud that she is such a well-spoken, prolific spokesperson in the LGBT community who is not afraid of taking on these topics. The Community Center is showing its newly branded, true colors; afraid of losing the donations of both the rich 1% and the Federal grants they so often fight to acquire. We are a community of VERY diverse individuals. But, if we are not able or ae afraid to ruffle some rich old white dudes who think they are giving back to 'their' community, then the Center is no more progressive and accepting than the GOP, and we see how that's playing out all over the news. Every day. Badly. Show some spine. Be the Center that Keith Herring and all those who have passed from AIDS complications expect you to be. Be the Center I was proud to be a very small part of when I helped pay the rent working for the Heritage of Pride and Body Positive decades ago. If I had the access to financial gifts, which I do not being shouldered by SSDI's low income, I would pull my gifts from the Center ASAP and find a more inclusive venue for my support. Sarah Schulmann is a brilliant, well researched writer, thinker, and orator, and to have her banned from the Center brings shame to that once beacon of diversity. let her speak.

    Reply
  52. Pingback: LGBT Center Ends Moratorium on Israel/ Palestine-Themed Gatherings | gaycitynews.com

  53. Stuart Baanstra February 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    "Israel's apartheid policies"? You needn't go to Israel to find apartheid. It's alive and well in New York city with progressive rabbis calling on queer Jewish people to only marry other queer Jewish people.

    Not that queer Jewish people can even marry.

    Reply
  54. Pauline Park February 15, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    Jon Winkleman's comments are misleading if not downright false and absurd. I invited the Siege Busters working group to do a film screening at Queens Pride House in May 2011:
    http://www.paulinepark.com/2011/05/queens-pride-h

    I actually proposed to my QAIA colleagues that we hold the Sarah Schulman book reading event at Queens Pride House after the Center in Manhattan rejected the space rental request from QAIA, but my colleagues opted for NYU instead because they thought we'd get better attendance if the event were held in Manhattan rather than in Queens. Of course, those were internal deliberations and Jon wouldn't be expected to know that, but leveling the charge that I've "made multiple comments to the press as a member of QAIA attacking the 13th St Center for not hosting events she won't host herself" is false and ridiculous. I organized the Siege Busters event in May 2011 and I've been trying for some time now to organize a QAIA-sponsored event at Pride House but have not been able to do so because of scheduling issues; I actually set the date twice but then had one of the key speakers tell me he couldn't make it on those dates. In fact, we're going to have a QAIA-sponsored event at Pride House in May — the same event that I've been working on for quite some time now; it's going to be a public forum, not a fundraiser. I'm not quite sure what point Jon is trying to make by making a reference to my not holding a QAIA fundraiser at QPH; QAIA has actually never held a fundraiser anywhere~! As for his characterizations of the perspectives and objectives of QAIA and Siege Busters, those characterizations are false, slanderous and beneath contempt.

    Reply
  55. Dmitriy M February 16, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    You know even Norman Finkelstein has called BDS a cult.
    Why you ask?

    Let's see:
    BDS supports positions that they know will never be implemented./
    BDS has three goals
    1. Ending the military occupation of the palestinian territories.
    2. Full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel.
    3. Implementation of UN resolution 194: a NON BINDING UN resolution btw that calls for the return of 4.5 million Palestinian "refugees" aka Palestinians born in Arab countries deliberately kept stateless to maintain anti-Israel attitudes as the core of Palestinian nationalism.

    You see goal #3: Is code for destroying Israel. Everyone knows that if Israel were to do this: the state would become Palestine and of course this is exactly what QAIA along with all other BDSers want but cannot publicly say because otherwise they would not be welcomed in any public forum.
    And yet BDSers are convinced that they have had "big successes" as Finkelstein puts it because a few universities have signed onto their propaganda and because Palestinian civil society aka obscure organizations that have no clout what so ever.

    It's interesting to note the BDSers will often claim that a 2 state solution is dead but when met with willingness to end settlement building and actually implement some semblance of a Palestinian state in the west bank sans the "right of return" they refuse it on ideological grounds, arguing that Palestinian "refugees" deserve justice.

    Al in all: they're a collective of various hate groups bent on delegitimizing israel.

    Reply
  56. Pingback: Queer activists welcome end of New York LGBT Center’s ban on Palestine events, but plan to test it | khamakarpress.com

  57. Pingback: Queer activists welcome end of New York LGBT Center’s ban on Palestine events, but plan to test it « altahrir, news of Islam, Muslims, Arab Spring and special Palestine

  58. Pingback: Queer activists welcome end of New York LGBT Center’s ban on Palestine … – The Electronic Intifada (blog) | LGBT Indonesia

  59. Pingback: ZIO PORNO KING LOSES HIS BID TO BAN PRO PALESTINE EVENTS AT NEW YORK’S LGBT CENTRE « Desertpeace

  60. Pingback: Gays Debate ‘Pinkwashing’ as N.Y. Center Reverses Ban on Israel-Related Events (Forward, 2.20.13) | Pauline Park

  61. Pingback: LGBT Community Center: A Bad Policy Ended Badly | gaycitynews.com

  62. Pingback: New York's 'Apartheid Week' kicks off: Queer scholar Sarah Schulman advocates BDS at LGBT Center

  63. Pingback: NYC ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ kicks off: queer scholar Sarah Schulman advocates BDS at LGBT Center 15Mar13 | Australians for Palestine

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