Cleve Jones Responds: Letter to the Editor

Disheartened by writer James Kirchick's recent commentary 'A Friend to Gays and Antigay Dictators Alike,' Cleve Jones writes a letter to the editor in support of his friend Sean Penn, a man he says is a "tireless champion of human rights both in the U.S. and around the world."



That’s what Sean has to say. Let me be clear, Sean Penn does not endorse dictators in any way, shape or form. (And by the way, like him or not, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected official.)

As Advocate readers know only too well, our own history haunts us. Bowers v. Hardwick, 1986, was a United States Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults. Seventeen years later the Supreme Court finally overruled Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, 2003, and held that such laws are unconstitutional. Those who would cast stones at Castro’s Cuba should remember that people could be arrested for gay sex in the US as recently as 2003.

Sean Penn is a citizen of the world. He harbors a tireless curiosity and a healthy skepticism, so he goes out and ascertains things for himself firsthand. His explorations as a journalist have put a spotlight on some of the biggest issues of our time: in Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and -- closer to home -- New Orleans. His visits and dispatches have opened avenues of communication and encouraged dialogue.

Since the film Milk has been dragged into this, I’ll simply add that Sean Penn’s deeply felt portrayal of gay rights activist Harvey Milk has re-energized our fighting spirit, inspired thousands of young LGBT activists and focused public attention on the struggle of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our continuing fight for equal rights.

Sean Penn is a man who has completely embraced our community and our cause.

Cleve Jones Palm Springs 


Tags: Politics