Editor’s Note: These first two letters arrived within a few days of each other, and seeing them side by side brought to mind the old saying: “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” We are certainly aware that homosexuality is a volatile topic, one that evokes a wide range of reactions, from profoundly negative and unaccepting to positive and embracing. Needless to say, everyone is entitled to form his or her own conclusion. We do want to point out, however, that The Juilliard Journal was in no way being “cavalier on this subject.” Indeed, a great deal of thought went into planning the Coming Out feature, from the initial selection of contributors and topics to be addressed to the editing and presentation of the stories, and many of the top leaders and administrators of the School weighed in on the feature before we went to press.
I want to congratulate The Juilliard Journal on the wonderful articles and profiles in honor of National Coming Out Day (“Coming Out: Stories of Family, Liberation, and Love,” October 2007). I hope that this Coming Out Day spread will become an annual feature, both to highlight G.L.B.T. faculty, staff, and students, and also to make it clear that The Juilliard School is a safe and welcoming environment for G.L.B.T. people. Coming out is a difficult process for many people, especially for young people new to the college experience. Regardless of how comfortable you are with your own sexuality, coming out can be a difficult hurdle to jump when moving away from home, making friends, and forging professional relationships. Having a safe environment in which to come out makes that process much easier; I hope that somewhere at Juilliard, a kid read these articles and felt empowered to tell a new friend, “I'm gay.”
I received the October Juilliard Journal and read it through as I have for more than 20 years. I am very disappointed that you have allowed The Juilliard Journal to become a forum for the gay and lesbian lifestyle. I am speaking with specific reference to the two pages in the center of The Journal devoted to articles on “Coming Out.” I have been a Christian pastor for more than 30 years and the heartache and tragedy of the “gay lifestyle” is one of life’s greatest sorrows. For you to be so cavalier on this subject and present the testimonies you allowed in The Journal is unthinkable to me. To lead people into sin and a life of unhappiness and self destruction is to me one of the worst sins.
A. Patrick Vaughan ('74, double bass)
On Painted Ponies
I was somewhat surprised, while leafing through the November Journal, to see the article (Focus on Art column) about the American Museum of Folk Art. After all, folk art is not a subject which can be taught, even by such an auspicious institution as Juilliard.
But then my eye was taken by a familiar image: the carousel horse pictured, and then the name of my grandfather, who had carved it.
Charles Carmel emigrated here in 1883, settled in Brooklyn near Coney Island, and worked for a while for the carousel horse carver Charles Looff. When Looff moved his factory to Rhode Island he opened his own shop, where he carved animals for builders of carousels. These horses originally sold for $25 to $35. I recently saw one being offered for sale at $18,000.
The author of your article, Greta Berman, indicated a particular affection for the carousel in Central Park, with animals by Stein and Goldstein—which, if you grew up in Manhattan, would be expected. My particular affection is for the machine in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, with animals all by Charles Carmel. It was built in Coney Island in 1912, moved to Prospect Park in 1952, but deteriorated and was closed in 1983. A group of volunteer enthusiasts, with the help of the Prospect Park Alliance, lovingly restored the carousel and its Carmel horses. We (and all his known descendants) attended the grand reopening around 1990. It is now open to the public from May through October on Thursday through Sunday, and only costs 50 cents to ride, which is up from the 5 cents that my father used to collect when he worked the carousels during the summers at Coney Island.
Other carousels that have all (or mostly all) Carmel animals can be seen at Rye Playland in Westchester County and at Carousel Park in East Providence, R.I.
A Web site of interest can be found at http://history.amusement-parks.com/
coasters.htm#carousel. Also, a beautiful coffee table book by the late Charlotte Dinger—a collector, who actually owned the horse you pictured—is titled The Art of the Carousel.
My thanks to The Journal and to Ms. Berman for calling attention to this virtually lost art.