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The Letter Wars

as featured in USA Today and The Advocate
Plus, how The Letter Wars started...


Letter one

Our first Christmas letter goes out, largely in response to Wes' life being ignored in Wes' family's previous Christmas letter, written by Aunt Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest.
(December 1992)

Letter two

Wes' aunt first writes with her concerns about him being gay.
(June 13, 1993)

Letter three

Our second annual Christmas letter goes out.
It includes this comment: "In April, I went to Washington D.C. for the 1993 March on Washington for Gay/Lesbian/Bi Civil Rights to do my part to counteract the lies, hysteria and hatred being promulgated by the so-called "religious right" in its push to eliminate civil rights for homosexuals."
(December 1993)

Letter four

Wes' aunt writes, having bitten the Radical Right propaganda about homosexuality hook, line & sinker.
She's pissed at Wes' comment in our Christmas letter, above.
(February 10, 1994)

Letter five

Our third annual Christmas letter goes out.
(December 1994)

Letter six

Wes finally responds to his aunt's two unsolicited letters about gays-being-demons in a VERY long letter.
(December 18, 1994)

Item seven

Phone icon
Wes' Aunt Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest, calls to inform him that Tom is not invited to an upcoming family get-together.
(June 1995)

Letter eight

Wes writes a letter to The Aunt and her siblings stating why Tom should be included in the family gathering.
(June 5, 1995)

Letter nine

Wes' aunt writes one of the best bizarre letters of the series, going off about NAMBLA, fecal matter, and the homosexual threat to children.
(June 29, 1995)

If you want to save time and just read one letter, this one is it! The woman is not right.

Letter ten

Wes refutes the massive inconsistencies in Aunt Priscilla's position in a letter to her, her siblings, and all of their children. (By now, the others in his generation were getting pressured by their parents. So, we might as well include them directly in the dialogue.) Wes also includes copies of all previous correspondence.
This means he sends a major package to 26 people.
(July 12, 1995)

Letter eleven

Wes' mother -- long divorced from his father, and not having to maintain a relationship with the aunt involved -- tells his aunt she's a lazy busybody sticking her nose where it doesn't belong.
(July 26, 1995)

Letter twelve

Wes' sister Susan (who was hosting the get-together), writes her take on the situation:
Tom is invited to Oregon whether the party happens or not.
(August 3, 1995)

Letter thirteen

Wes' sister Susan writes his sanctimonious aunt and tells her that her actions are not those of a true Christian.
(August 3, 1995)

Letter fourteen

A cousin's husband critiques the Biblical references in Wes' December 18, 1994, letter (letter six).
(July 12, 1995)

Letter fifteen

Wes writes his aunt an apology for any wrongs he has done.
The Aunt returns it, unopened, belligerently marking "Refused" across the front.
(August 24, 1995)

Letter sixteen

Wes forwards all the above correspondence to his aunt's minister and tells him how divisive the subject of homosexuality has been in the family.
Wes asks that he intervene.
(September 26, 1995)

Letter seventeen

Another aunt writes requesting a pause in the letters while she compiles her thoughts.
(October 24, 1995)

Letter eighteen

Our fourth annual Christmas letter goes out.
It contains a brief mention of the summer's happenings, then says that readers can see the letters for themselves when our Web site debuts February 1, 1996.
Friends are intrigued.
Much family is aghast.
(December 1995)

Item nineteen

Old fashioned crank phone
Wes' father calls, telling him he doesn't think a Web site with the letters is a good idea.
(He was supportive throughout the ordeal, but feels it's time to let it rest.)
(December 1995)

Letter twenty

Yet a third aunt now writes, telling Wes she also doesn't think a Web site with the letters is a good idea.
(December 14, 1995)

Letter twenty one

Aunt Priscilla's youngest daughter writes, telling us she was offended by our Christmas letter.
(December 15, 1995)

Letter twenty two

Aunt Priscilla's other daughter writes one of the most explanatory letters in the "opposing camp's" series.
(December 16, 1995)

Letter twenty three

Now Wes' aunt's ATTORNEY writes!
He is actually quite tactful, which is good: Wes' whole family is comprised of hard-heads.
(December 27, 1995)

Letter twenty four

The aunt who wanted to compile her thoughts creates a detailed recap of all the events of the summer from her perspective. The letter is a massive (20-some page) waste of paper, as she bases many of her later "findings" on the faulty premise that leaving Tom out of a family gathering is not discriminatory.
(December 28, 1995)

Letter twenty five

Wes responds to his aunt's attorney's letter.
Basically Wes assures him that he'll take reasonable measures to protect The Aunt's identity so that she doesn't receive harassing mail or calls. He sends copies of this letter to those who expressed concern about the Web site, as most of those had claimed to be wanting to protect Priscilla's privacy.
(January 6, 1996)

Letter twenty six

Our fifth annual Christmas letter goes out.
It contains the cryptic line that The Letter Wars "is being featured in a national publication in January."
As he had agreed, Wes does not send one to Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest.
(Presumably she hears about it from other family members.)
(December 1996)

Item twenty seven

USA Today does a writeup of "Wes & Tom's Cool Site!" largely due to the Letter Wars.
As agreed to in her attorney's letter, there is not a peep from Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest.
(January 29, 1997)

Letter twenty eight

Our sixth annual Christmas letter goes out.
Having told the truth about our lives to the entire family for the last six years -- and about the lives of gays and lesbians in general -- the final printed version of our letter goes out. The significance of this final printed version is that most of the family is not online, so they will not be receiving future editions. We accomplished what we set out to do: We succeeded in preventing Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest from slandering gays and lesbians unchallenged, and from erasing the true Wes -- a gay man who happens to have AIDS (and the man who loves him!) -- from the extended family's knowledge.
(December 19, 1997)

Letter twenty nine

Our first Internet-only annual letter is published.
(December 4, 1998)

Item thirty

The Letter Wars pretty much died down after the USA Today writeup.
My sister and brother-in-law who were hosting the Uncles' Party in Oregon moved back to Texas.
But the after-effects really lived on in a strong resentment from Aunt Priscilla toward my father. She shunned him at family events, and her children seemed obliged to follow along. My father made one overture toward her that I remember, and it went unanswered. Obviously it wasn't time yet.
Then my stepmother's mom died in May 1999. (My stepmother has been in the family for 33 years so she has long-standing relationships with the rest of the family.) My father called to let his siblings know. When he spoke to Priscilla, they agreed it was time to put this behind them. She invited him to a family gathering later that month. He went and had a nice time.
(May 1999)

Special letter

In the letters from Aunt Priscilla, Queen of the Northwest, she repeatedly talks about "saving the children." In September 1996, Wes was re-reading More Tales of the City and came across this section which articulated many of his feelings.

Wes & Tom's annual recaps after The Letter Wars ended











Wes' annual recaps





Wes' & Barry's annual recaps






Wes' & Barry's & dog's annual recaps





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