Black Tie dilettanti
Brava! Ann Zimmerman. Thanks for putting into print what I, as well as many others, have been saying for years ["Black tie winners," July 25]. As a gay man, I am not surprised--and no less outraged--at how the Black Tie Dinner operates. Elitism knows no sexual orientation. What better way is there to self-promote than to throw a party in "honor" of charity? Why would anyone expect gays to be any different?

It is no secret that the Black Tie Dinner is a "see and be seen" affair. To pretend that it is anything else would be the height of hypocrisy. As for the distribution of funds, of course the process is unfair. How else do you expect a group of self-serving, incestuous dilettanti to behave? Any good that does come from the funds raised is incidental. Can you imagine if Miss America were selected by audience vote? Of course the hometown favorite would be the winner, even if she called hogs in the talent competition.

I have never attended the Black Tie Dinner, although I am approached to attend every year. I cannot bring myself to attend any function where the attendees judge one another not on the quality of their mercy or the depth of their charity, but by the quality of their tans, the labels inside their tuxedo jackets, or the cars in which they arrived.

Black Tie Dinner attendees, lamentably, fall into one of three categories: a small, elite group of self-proclaimed gay royalty; an all-too-large group of sycophants (those who believe that being seen with the aforementioned somehow improves their social standing); and a far-too-small minority of people who genuinely care. Those who are offended by this letter undoubtedly recognize themselves as belonging to the first or second group.

This year, I will donate the cost of Black Tie Dinner admission directly to AIDS Services of Dallas. I challenge others, gay or straight, to do the same.

George Henson

The dilettanti's defense
I can say it, because right now I am not an officer of any gay and lesbian or AIDS organization. I'll probably get into trouble with someone next year when I am.

For years, Don Maison and AIDS Services of Dallas have refused to work with other members of the gay and lesbian community, or other AIDS agencies. ["Black Tie winners," July 25] In the past, small AIDS organizations and those unable to meet Black Tie requirements have gotten funding from Black Tie by teaming up with larger organizations like the AIDS Resource Center. It's that simple.

The Dallas Observer, which loves to bash the gay and lesbian community and has never printed anything positive about anyone in the gay and lesbian community (except for the Cheer Dallas article), picked up on one person's criticism without mentioning all the good that is done with all of the money that is raised.

If Maison doesn't like how Black Tie works, let him look elsewhere for funding. If his board and development director can't put together five tables, he needs a new board, since fund-raising is the major function of a nonprofit board. Or, if he were willing to work with another agency, he'd get his funding.

As usual, I'll look for my coverage of the gay and lesbian community in The Dallas Morning News. It doesn't have the anti-gay agenda you do.

David Taffet

Of Miller and maggots
Once again, Laura Miller reminds me why I bother to read anything printed on paper in Dallas. While I admit to being a partisan Dallas Morning News basher, I freely admit to wading through the swill on a daily basis to maintain minimum reading skills. My hard-earned money feeds the corpulent maggotry of A.H. Belo Corp. every day.

With the demise of the Dallas Times Herald, I had become resigned to being slowly worn down with the persistent monotone party line. As a CPA, I harbor no illusions about printed media, but Belo offers me nothing but limp, putrid tripe across the board, save for an occasional sports page.

Miller is a shining beacon in these dark days of print journalism, and an outstanding example of an apparently lost art--investigative reporting. Beyond fairly presenting facts, writing has to stand on its own merit, interesting the reader, moving the story along, then securely closing up the container.

If Laura Miller is not the last apparent investigative reporter in this town, she is certainly the best. Period. I remember her articles because she communicates things best remembered. In stark contrast, at the Morning News journalism is apparently like ad space--something disposable that needs to be updated every now and then. Gee, why would anyone think of Dallas as black hole of culture?

Thank you, Laura; Dallas is reading. Shame on you, Dallas Morning News; you're being beaten badly, consistently, and fairly by a single writer. Oh, I forgot, money is everything, but if life were fair, the Morning News would be reporting record-busting profits for the Observer.

Allen Harrington