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Permission granted by author for anyone to distribute this
writing free of charge (including translation into any
language)...under condition that no profit is made therefrom,
and that it remain intact and complete, including title and 
credit to the original author.

Ezekiel J. Krahlin

(A True Tale From The Castro. Eat your heart out, Armistead!)

© 1997 by Ezekiel J. Krahlin

February 26, 1990

Dear Editor,

     I have heard many folks in our gay community complain
about the excessive panhandling on Castro Street.  I, too, am
tired of it (even though one of my best friends is
"houseless").  But what outrages me even more, are all these
political non-gay organizations inundating The Castro with
their booths, tables, donations, and petition requests.  My
bone of contention is not against the good causes they
represent; but the fact that nowhere in their flyers do they
include any mention (whatsoever) of how their groups also
incorporate gay rights as part of their agenda.  It sickens me
to think of these potentially homophobic organizations
draining the already- financially-overburdened and
medically/politically-endangered lesbian/gay community.  If
they don't include a statement of unequivocal support for
their sisters and brothers of same-sex persuasion, then I
refuse to give them any money, signatures, or even the time of
day...and make it clear to them exactly why, before walking

     I must say, I have received interesting reactions from
these solicitors, when I say:  "Before I consider helping your
cause, please show me a flyer stating how your organization
supports gay rights." The latest example happened on Sunday
(Feb. 25), at the "Uhuru House" table in front of Bank of
America (Castro & Market).  I told the (white) woman that I
first wanted to see a flyer explaining how Uhuru House, an
organization for black people's rights, includes support for
black lesbians and gays.  As expected, there was no such
flyer, nor did she convey any concern of Uhuru House for gay
rights, nor express any compassion on a personal level, for
lesbians and gays.  I told her, "Now you go back to Uhuru
House, and have them design a leaflet in support of lesbians
and gays.  When I see that flyer on your table, I'll give you
a big hug and a kiss, and ten dollars."  Well, at that point,
she really flew off the handle, shouting me down with
accusations that I am anti-black.

     Before departing, I managed to squeeze in one more point:
"This is a gay neighborhood.  We are already stressed to the
max over AIDS, and fighting for our rights against powerful
homophobic forces.  This includes a lot of gay blacks, who are
disenfranchised by their own black organizations.  I resent
arrogant groups such as yours, who come into our community,
and further drain our resources without so much as a verbal
acknowledgment in support of homosexual rights." Again, she
screamed at me. "Well, I'm glad I made your day," I said, and
walked away. (Addendum:  I was very pleased to discover that,
upon walking by Bank of America an hour later, the woman, the
table, the flyers:  all gone. I wondered if, perhaps, my loud
voice may have encouraged other pedestrians to challenge her.)

     I realize, of course, that many solicitors do not
represent organizations for "people's" rights...but address
other (equally important) issues of abuse and corruption; such
as ecological threats, endangered species, and big business
control.  But is that supposed to mean that we, as lesbians
and gays, are "irrelevant" to such "non-people" issues?
Lesbians and gays have a great tradition of contributing to
all good causes (blacks, women, children, the poor, the
disabled, animals, trees, mother earth...etc., etc.).  So I
urge all pro-lesbian/gay supporters to first take the time (as
I do) to question these solicitors regarding support of
lesbians and gays...before plunking down a donation, or
signing a petition.  (In other words:  "Read their beads."
Don't assume that a sweet smile means your lifestyle is
condoned.)  You will be surprised at how much anti-gay hatred
spews from some of their mouths!  Hopefully, a united effort
from the lesbian/gay community can eradicate homophobic
solicitors from our neighborhood, leaving behind only those
groups who actively defend rights of homosexuals, regardless
of which causes they represent.  As far as I'm concerned,
they'd better put it on paper. Lip service doesn't cut the