Attacks on artistic expression are proliferating at a frightening rate, and any connection with lesbian or gay matters brings campaigns for suppression. This censorship is affecting the visual and performing arts, museums and movies, television and art exhibits and it is occurring in small towns and big cities everywhere in the country.

  • Last year in Cincinnati, Ohio, the owner, manager, and clerk of the Pink Pyramid, a small lesbian and gay bookstore, were arrested on charges of "pandering obscenity" for renting a video of Salò, a film by renowned poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. They faced fines and six-month jail terms. NCAC wrote a letter of protest to the prosecutor and, recruiting the ACLU Arts Censorship Project as its partner, organized and filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of 40 distinguished filmmakers, artists, institutions, and film scholars. The judge dismissed the charges but the prosecutor has appealed. The American Family Association has attacked NCAC and its participating organizations for "supporting pornography." As a result of those charges, the National Council of Churches considered—but decided against—withdrawing from NCAC.
  • As part of a national campaign against public broadcasting, Donald Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, attacked the American Playhouse series Tales of the City as "the latest in an ongoing campaign by PBS to promote the homosexual lifestyle and agenda." He produced a video with "offensive" excerpts strung together out of context and sent it to each member of Congress. He also urged AFA members to write their senators and representatives objecting to federal funding of public broadcasting for "promoting the homosexual life-style, profanity, drug use, etc." In 1995, in part as a result of the AFA campaign, Congress reduced the proposed budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by ten million dollars. The AFA also attacked the series at the state level, lobbying against state funding for public broadcasting.
  • In New York City, Mayor Giuliani has proposed and the City Planning Commission narrowly approved (7-6) changing zoning regulations to drastically limit the location of adult businesses including videostores, theaters, bars, and galleries which "regularly" or "substantially" involve themselves in sexually explicit expression. This threatens the gay and lesbian community with the destruction of the cultural life of Greenwich Village and with the movement of many establishments to unsafe warehouse and harbor districts. NCAC helped organize New Yorkers for Free Expression (with Lambda Legal Defense Fund, Empire State Pride Agenda, AIDS Prevention Action League, and other groups) to oppose these changes.
  • In Cobb County, Georgia, all funding for the arts was eliminated by the County Commission in response to community objections to homosexual references in a local theater production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart by Terrence McNally. The County Commission first passed a resolution condemning homosexuality, and considered a proposal to limit arts funding to groups that "support family-oriented values" but instead voted unanimously to deprive the county arts commission of any public funds.