| Chicago Reader

Who Killed Quona 

Dear editor:

After reading Todd Savage's very depressing "Requiem for a Teenage Cross-Dresser" [May 20], I really have to wonder what he and the Reader had in mind by publishing such a downbeat story. Quona Clark's road to destruction has been duplicated many thousands of times across the country.

To be sure, there are some lessons to be learned here, although I fear many might overlook them. However, at the risk of being presumptuous, I feel a strong inclination to point out at least several. Firstly, I was wholly mystified as to why Quona's brother Darryl (who admitted to his own homosexuality) felt the need to badger Quona for being a cross-dressing gay!

As a 30-year-old gay man, Darryl should have learned somewhere that there are essentially two types of gay men: those who choose on occasion, if not all the time, to act like women, talk like women, dress like women, and those--probably like himself--who want to be viewed as men in every way except from a gay perspective. The reality here is that both groups are misguided and therefore have problems as a consequence of being gay. So for Darryl to chide his brother Quona for being one that likes dressing in female attire is analogous to a pickpocket criticizing a purse snatcher.

Secondarily, I also have to wonder what Juanita Clark, Quona's mother, knew about raising kids to pick such a neighborhood for her family, not have a mature adult at home to make sure they were home at a certain time, and, more importantly, not hanging out with the wrong element--which is, in fact, what happened. While she doesn't speak directly to Quona's (or Darryl's) homosexuality, I can't believe that she really felt good about it. (I don't think any mother does.) But yet she picked an area I would call "Queerville" to raise her sons!

As she drove her CTA bus along Broadway, she should have readily noticed all the gay hustling, gay bars, and the many other horrible-looking, misguided souls like Jo-Jo Arguellas. Could she have not known that we are, to a large extent, products of our environment? The sad reality here is that Quona Clark was overexposed to this horrific environment with its "alternative life-styles" even before Juanita's boyfriend decided to kick him out.

Lastly, I found it interesting that following Quona's death some of his "friends" asked how his family could love him and still put him out. (Those of us who read the story know that his mother did rent him a room.) This struck me as such a dumb question, especially considering the present time, when there are so many gang-bangers, dope dealers, and drug abusers exposing their families to all kinds of dangers because there is no one there with enough sense to say, "Enough is enough. Get out!" The question becomes, should one hardheaded, misguided family member be allowed to endanger the whole family, or, in other cases, continuously cause strife and disruption within the family?

I'll be closely watching your readers' reponse to this letter in light of the fact that your readership is overrepresented by members of the gay community--a most regrettable fact for a paper of such high literary quality.

Hubert Sharpe

E. 73rd St.

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