To borrow from Socrates’ “Apology,” the unexamined publication is not worth publishing.
Last week, Good Times issued an apology for a letter to the editor that unfairly characterized a drag story time event and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Its publication bypassed our normal review processes and violated our policies against anonymous letters and hate speech.
I have spoken with one of the performers, to Raices y Cariño and to leaders of local organizations to personally apologize, and to listen to concerns expressed representatives of the LGBTQ+ community, with whom we stand. We apologize unequivocally for granting a request for anonymity, for allowing this letter to appear and for the hurt it caused.
We spent the past week reflecting and implementing more thorough pre-publication review to ensure that harmful stereotypes and anti-drag hysteria are not reinforced. Montana this month passed a poorly drafted and harmful law that mischaracterizes and outlaws story readings of the type that the local letter writer opposed.
Santa Cruz cannot be a haven for that kind of misguided thinking. Good Times and its associated publications have historically been at the forefront of the movement to advance inclusivity and will continue to do so. We are committed to fostering a safe and welcoming community for all.
Our training and guidelines for editors in our publishing group will improve to ensure that we do our best job for our readers and communities.
In addition, please join me in welcoming Brad Kava, an experienced editor, publisher and journalism educator, to our company. He answered the call to help us publish this week’s issue, keep Good Times on track and ensure that a fitting tribute was incorporated to welcome attendees at this year’s Santa Cruz Pride. Brad will head the local editorial team until we complete the process of hiring our next Editor.
We Proudly Sign Our Names
On May 17, 2023, Good Times published a letter to the editor, “Woke Up Call.” We found this letter contained homophobia and transphobia targeting our LGBTQIA2S+ community, specifically the families of color in Watsonville and Pajaro. The rhetoric used was to encourage violence by spreading ignorance and hate speech to dissuade families from attending a Drag Storytime event hosted at the Raíces y Cariño family center of Watsonville.
We are the two drag performers from this event: Xinistra (Jorge Guillen) and Rogue Roulette (Zak Keith). When we discuss Drag artistry, we are not talking about “cross-dressing giant overgrown makeup-covered men,” we are talking about an unapologetic expression connected to a rich and beautiful history. Drag is about sharing the art of gender in a way that is accessible to everyone. Good Times released an opinion that does not match the values of Santa Cruz County, and so we are here to remind you of those values in our call to action.
We ask our local businesses for their support in our call to action. The family who runs Raíces y Cariño has truly demonstrated the meaning of being an ally to both the local and queer community—and for that, we cannot express enough gratitude. Their allyship is what reflects the true values of the LGBTQIA2S+ community and the model for our call to action. The discomfort that can emerge in questioning what role you play in this discourse is the same discomfort LGBTQIA2S+ folks experience every day while homophobia and transphobia continue to have space in our community, and so we implore you to be public in your opposition to homophobia and transphobia.
The anonymous author attempted to create harm in our community by spreading ill-informed beliefs while using their children as an example of malice. On the contrary, it has galvanized our community. We hope that throughout this process, the author has learned something for her ill-informed views and her family. Drag Story Time was an incredibly successful event, with over 70+ family members coming to read children’s stories together in solidarity. The children laughed and learned with us as artists; plenty of pictures show the joy that filled the space. We value the people of our community, not the harmful words of someone who finds comfort in hate. The children who got to see this visibility, who got to see themselves represented and who were told they were allowed to be whoever they wanted to be are the people we are celebrating.
We are disappointed to see Good Times release such a hate-filled letter, and we want to share with the community we are part of the ongoing conversation about how we can heal together with sustainable actions. The country we live in is rapidly using the fear and violence against the queer community to gain power over our well-being, expression and joy—and as Drag artists, we refuse to allow that to permeate the inclusive environments we continue to create. We cannot justify such grossly ignorant events, but we can choose to walk our values as a Queer community. We are colorful. We are vibrant. We are loud. We are proud. We are resilient. We are freedom. We are authentic. We are love. Those who choose not to be part of that will live a life of dullness—but that is not the path we walk together. Celebrate with us at Santa Cruz Pride and begin the process of healing together.
We proudly sign our names,
Xinistra and Rogue
Starting June 3, fire practitioners from around the world will join forces to hold a prescribed fire training. The prescribed burns will be open for the public to observe on various days throughout the training, which lasts through June 10. The program will also include lectures and seminars on local fire ecology of plant and animal species. Members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Esselen Tribe of Monterey will also teach the history of tribal burning practices. Learn more at calpba.org
Santa Cruz local Carla H Brown has done it again: She is the two-time winner of the World Laughing Championship (WLC), a worldwide event that celebrates the art of laughter. On May 23, participants from around the world joined in on the virtual event. They were judged by the contagiousness of their laughter by a live online audience. Brown herself is a laughter specialist, trained in Laughter Yoga and her performance left audiences in stitches. Read more at www.worldlaughingchampionship.com
Quote of the Week
“This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another.”