Vote for Young Lions

Yettakurland Last week, New York City's Gay City News published their endorsement for the New York City Council, representing New York's 3rd Council District—traditionally an edgy, outsider, outlaw kind of place to live. Their endorsement of the incumbent council member—a moderate Democrat—just didn't sit right with me. We don't have that many plain-speaking left wing lions left, and I think we need to elect them whenever and wherever we can. So, I wrote this letter to Paul Schindler, Editor of the Gay City News. I'm endorsing Yetta Kurland for New York City Council in the upcoming election.


Dear Editor,

The nothing-less-than-amazing Democratic victories in the last two national elections is nothing less than a mandate for more progressive legislation and more progressive legislators. Wherever possible, we the people need to cast our vote for truly progressive leaders. We need elected officials who will turn the tide of the crushing oppression of the last eight years. For that reason, I’m endorsing Yetta Kurland in her bid for the City Council seat representing New York’s 3rd District. She’s got heart, she’s got attitude, and she’s got a mouth. New York City hasn’t seen a feisty politician like that for a long time.

I am sick and tired of Democrats’ subdued murmurs in the face of Republican bully tactics of fear, intimidation, and lies. We need us a lion on the City Council. To me, that’s the self-described, “plucky little dyke,” Yetta Kurland.

Come on… isn’t it obvious that the Bloomberg Administration has slowly and surely been shifting the face of New York City politics to a moderate right-wing point of view? Yes, yes, that’s much better than the conservative politics of say, Rudy Giuliani—the man who Disneyfied Times Square. In the absence of a more progressive voice, however, moderate is not good enough. As LGBTQIAetc people, we need us a lion on the City Council who will help forge a coalition of people fighting on behalf of equity in race, age, class, sexuality, gender, looks, ability, religion, family status, and citizenship. I’m convinced that lion is Yetta Kurland.

Kurland’s opponent in the upcoming election is sitting Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Recently, Quinn was referred to by The Gay City News as“The biggest political prize in the LGBT community.”

Ouch… on a great many levels. 

No doubt, Quinn has been a good and honorable civil servant, but over the last eight years it’s become increasingly clear that Ms. Quinn’s progressive edge has been worn down by the soul-numbing back-room politics of this city. In fact, the only reason Ms. Quinn is running against Kurland at all is because Quinn joined forces with hizzoner, Mayor Bloomberg to extend term limits for the two of themselves. That’s called classism—keeping the power to yourself.

No, Yetta doesn’t wear pearls. She’d probably look out of place at a State Dinner. So would most of the constituents of the historically marginalized 3rd District of New York. The 3rd doesn’t need a smooth-talker with powerful connections. The city needs a fighter with stamina, someone who’s lived as far out on the margins as most of the people in this city. That’s Kurland. Besides, what’s the value of powerful connections if you don’t use those connections on behalf of the people who are most in need of them?

As for who’s going to get more done for the “LGBT Community,”the clear answer is Kurland. She understands that there’s a lot more letters to be added to our community’s name before it becomes truly representative of all of us. 

Honestly, now: are you a gold star lesbian—never once thought about a guy? 

Are you a 100% gay man? Really, 100%? 

Are you bisexual all the time? You never spend some time leaning to one side or another? 

Do you see yourself as a real transgender person in a world where other people who claim to be transgender aren’t as real as you? 

Do you pretty much have everything you need for a decent life, but you’d like a little bit more?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then by all means: vote for Christine Quinn. But if you’re more complicated than that, if you’re oppressed by more than simply your sexuality and/or your gender, then cast your vote for Yetta Kurland.

The time for single-issue politics is over. There’s no way the LGBT community is going to get civil rights for itself to the exclusion of any other marginalized group. Single-focus politics may have worked in the ‘80s, but over the last two decades the right wing has learned how to manipulate single-focus politics, and play us off one against the other. The right wing has not yet learned how to manipulate an unpredictable, outspoken force like Yetta Kurland. 

Over the last two decades, the right wing has carved up the left like a Thanksgiving turkey. We’ve been bullied into submission, reduced to asking for scraps at Master Bloomberg’s table. The way I see it, Yetta Kurland is our best shot at reunification.

Reader, when you cast your vote, please keep in mind: we just lost Teddy Kennedy. The grand old leftie, Paul Wellstone is no longer around to champion the disempowered of this country. There are only a handful of left wing lions running for office. New York City is lucky to have one of them, in the person of Yetta Kurland. She's been working tirelessly behind the scenes. It's now her time to step forward and make this city worthy of that lovely lady who stands so tall in our harbor, holding up a torch for all of us who don't quite fit it.

Kate Bornstein, 
New York City author, performer and advocate for teens, freaks, and other outlaws.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.