Friday, May 05, 2006

Dear Mr Leno:

This apparently appeared in Salon Magazine and was sent to me via email by dear friend Maggie. You can also see it on Mr Whitty's site WITLESS

Dear Mr. Leno,

My name is Jeff Whitty. I live in New York City. I'm a playwright and
the author of "Avenue Q," which is a musical currently running on

I've been watching your show a bit, and I'd like to make an observation:

When you think of gay people, it's funny. They're funny folks. They
wear leather. They like Judy Garland. They like disco music. They're
sort of like Stepin Fetchit as channeled by Richard Simmons.

Gay people, to you, are great material.

Mr. Leno, let me share with you my view of gay people:

When I think of gay people, I think of the gay news anchor who took a
tire iron to the head several times when he was vacationing in St.
Maarten's. I think of my friend who was visiting Hamburger Mary's, a
gay restaurant in Las Vegas, when a bigot threw a smoke bomb filled
with toxic chemicals into the restaurant, leaving the staff and gay
clientele coughing, puking, and running in terror. I think of
visiting my gay friends at their house in the country, sitting
outside for dinner, and hearing, within hundreds of feet of where we
sat, taunting voices yelling "Faggots." I think of hugging my
boyfriend goodbye for the day on 8th Avenue in Manhattan, and being
mocked and taunted by passing high school students.

When I think of gay people, I think of suicide. I think of a
countless list of people who took their own lives because the world
was so toxically hostile to them. Because of the deathly climate of
the closet, we will never be able to count them. You think gay people
are great material. I think of a silent holocaust that continues to
this day. I think of a silent holocaust that is perpetuated by people
like you, who seek to minimize us and make fun of us and who I
suspect really, fundamentally wish we would just go away.

When I think of gay people, I think of a brave group that has made
tremendous contributions to society, in arts, letters, science,
philosophy, and politics. I think of some of the most hilarious
people I know. I think of a group that has served as a cultural
guardian for an ungrateful and ignorant America.

I think of a group of people who have undergone a brave act of
inventing themselves. Every single out-of-the-closet gay person has
had to say, "I am not part of mainstream society." Mr. Leno, that
takes bigger balls than stepping out in front of TV-watching America
every night. I daresay I suspect it takes bigger balls to come out of
the closet than anything you have ever done in your life.

I know you know gay people, Mr. Leno. Are they just jokes to you, to
be snickered at behind their backs? Despite the angry tenor of my
letter, I suspect you're a better man than that. I don't bother
writing letters to the "God Hates Fags" people, or Donald Wildmon, or
the Pope. But I think you can do better. I know it's "The Tonight
Show," not a White House press conference, but you reach a lot of

I caught your show when you had a tired mockery of "Brokeback
Mountain," involving something about a horse done up in what you
consider a "gay" way. Man, that's dated. I turned the television off
and felt pretty fucking depressed. And now I understand your gay-
baiting jokes have continued.

Mr. Leno, I have a sense of humor. It's my livelihood. And being gay
has many hilarious aspects to it -- none of which, I suspect, you
understand. I'm tired of people like you. When I think of gay people,
I think of centuries of suffering. I think of really, really good
people who've been gravely mistreated for a long time now.

You've got to cut it out, Jay.


Jeff Whitty
New York, NY

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