LETTER- <i>Hook</i> humiliated amorous old men

The Hook did a bad thing. Shame on the Hook for gratuitously publishing the pictures of two unfortunate senior citizens found allegedly having oral sex in a car in Staunton [November 13: "Wal-Mart tryst begets felony charges"], and for flamboyantly describing alleged facts of the arrest.

While the story is supposed to be about inequitable prosecution of Virginia's antique "sodomy" laws (questionably Constitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, yet never repealed by Virginia), techniques of sensationalism are not appropriate to make this point.

Does the Hook call this piece journalism or story-telling? If story-telling, for what purpose?

Is the reader to be entertained by seeing the humiliation of these unfortunate seniors? If the purpose of the writing is to disclose inequitable application of Virginia law, why use sensationalism?

The Hook should explain its purpose and techniques in publishing this story. And it should disclose its policy for publishing alleged facts and for publishing pictures before trial.

The Hook and other local media should explore worthwhile stories rather than sensationalistic stories about LGBT people.

For example: Are there equitable and culturally competent social, educational, housing, recreation, and health services for gay and lesbian persons throughout the lifespan, including seniors living in rural areas? Do the Virginia Department on Aging, JABA, the Senior Center, have special programs for LGBT senior citizens?

Are there LGBT-culturally-competent mental health services, alcohol dependency, and other addiction treatment, including for sexual addictions, at Region Ten, UVA, and Martha Jefferson hospitals, and within the local League of Therapists?

Do any churches and congregations have LGBT-inclusive social ministries for LGBT seniors, youth, and families? What legal advocacy services exist in rural Virginia, or even urban Charlottesville, for LGBT people caught within Virginia's many homophobic and transphobic laws?

Edward Strickler
Albemarle County

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3 comments

Edward, unfortunately I think it's important to realize that the more the heterosexual public hears about situations like this one, or the one at Ivy Creek, the less likely they'll be willing to put time, energy, and money into providing services.

Furthermore, I don't think the alleged behaivors of these two men can even be explained by lack of services. If anything, I think it'd be worthwhile for the LGBT community to publically condemn such activities. After all, it does no favors to the responsible committed gay couples I know to have the public witness this kind of situation.

Maybe this bust and front page coverage will get this behavior behind closed doors here it belongs

thanks to all who read the letter and made a point to agree or disagree; btw, i've received favorable comments in person and by personal email; to lonnie's point: it is The Hook that sensationalized the story, with picture nonetheless, not me; and about services, it is the responsibility of consumers of services and prescient planners, to identify needs and ask to meet those needs (in other words, IF our community and Virginia WANT to attract seniors with resources, they should also attract lgbt seniors, as are other states; and lgbt retirees, seniors and consumers should ask for services they need; & to dice's point: if guys being amorous in parked cars is wrong, so is it wrong for anyone else having oral sex in cars; so, prosecutors MUST arrest the teenagers in cars (and, they DO KNOW where teenagers go to 'park' ; they should also arrest them to throwing out the condoms at the parking lot at the trailhead (but it is a good thing that they are employing condoms, isn't it?); the Hook's story intentionally, or ignorantly (which do you think?) was playing WITH the homophobic/age-biased stereotype of 'dirty old men' and that is pure sensationalism and not journalism