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Protesting the PATH plan is not progress

 Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

It is a very sad state of affairs for gay rights when gay activists must resort to protesting the building of subway entrances to very crowded stations ("PATH protest," June 14). These activists are being very shortsighted with their "not in my backyard" protests.

September 11 was a very tragic day for many in the metro region. Many people died in buildings that they could not get out of. Now these so-called gay activists want to maintain a situation where more people could die in unsafe subway stations if a fire were to break out. Many of these same so-called gay activists have somehow forgotten that the gay members of the "bridge and tunnel crowd" have helped to sustain Christopher Street and the Village area. Many of these same so-called gay activists have somehow forgotten that many gay people, among others, died on September 11. Are these protests a tribute to their memory, or just evidence of the gay activists' small-mindedness?

Many of these gay activists say that they wish to "preserve" the neighborhood and its historic buildings. Yet historic preservation was never about "retaining" or continuing to use unsafe buildings or structures, or to not fix unsafe conditions. Have any of these so-called activists ever had to use a subway station where there is only one exit, and that exit is crowded?

If a fire were to break out in one of those stations and many people died, would those gay activists really be happy that they saved the historic nature of the Village in the face of so much death? Would those deaths be "worth it"?

A part of the Stonewall legacy was the freeing of gay people from small, crowded firetrap bars. So as a result of that legacy, gay activists today wish that commuters remain in small, crowded firetrap subway stations, even if some of those commuters are also gay. I am not sure that that is progress.

Some of the gay activists involved have invoked the image of the "big bad Port Authority" against "neighborhood folks," or that the Port Authority is "disrespecting" the gay community, or similar "us" versus "them" rhetoric. What is really being discussed is the building of additional subway entrances, because the current stations lack them. The entrances would be very useful, because if a fire were to break out in the stations, many people would die.

Gay activism in recent years has meant saving people's lives, through a variety of responses to AIDS, campaigns for gay rights, changes in laws and reducing discrimination.

The protests against the building of subway exits that would provide emergency exits for commuters fleeing fire-filled stations is one example of a sad state of affairs for gay rights. One of the first gay rights is the right to live, it is that simple.

Michael Sherrell
New York City

New Jersey commuters contribute to NYC

To the Editor:

I realize that anything I have to say will automatically be discounted by the GLBTQ "leaders" in the Village because I am a New Jersey resident. It seems that they and other leaders throughout New York City, gay and straight, like to complain about New Jersey residents when it's convenient for them, however they'll gladly take all the money we spend and contribute to New York City businesses and charitable organizations.

If it weren't for the PATH stations that give GLBTQ New Jersey residents access to the Village, there would be many stores and bars doing a lot less business. We contribute to the community and our needs for our safety should be considered. I suggest that everyone who is opposing this plan spend 10 minutes on the Christopher or 9th street stations during rush hour.

Wall to wall people on the platforms and trains running in both directions could lead to people being pushed onto the tracks and injured if there was any panic on the platform. Try it and then tell us you oppose new station entrances.

David S. Bimbi
Hoboken, NJ

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