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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.



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.

126 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?

  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.

  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.


    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.

  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.

  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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

  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:

  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.

  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.

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

    This is genuinely outrageous.

  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

  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."


  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.

  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 ( I think this decision is outrageous. The LGBTQ Jewish organization I direct, Nehirim ( 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.

  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!

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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."

  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.

  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.

  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?

  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!.

  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.

  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?

  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.

  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.

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


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

    Hanukkah comes early this year!

  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.


    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

  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

  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…

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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:

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

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

  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.

  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.

  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."

  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.

  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.

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

  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.

  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:

    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.

  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.

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

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