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Portable Toilets to Remain Nameless

May 9, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ A company supplying portable toilets to a Gay Pride Parade says it won’t let its ″johns″ be called by any other name, particularly as a means to ridicule opponents of the city’s homosexual rights bill.

Port-O-San Corp. of Kearney, N.J., said Thursday it will not rent units to Heritage of Pride, an organization promoting the June 29 parade, if the group goes through with plans announced in a news release to let contributors name a portable toilet for their ″favorite homophobe.″

Homophobe is what homosexuals call their critics.

″We don’t feel our company should be used for the vilification or lampooning of anyone,″ said Joanna Thon, company sales manager.

Candida Scott Piel, a parade coordinator, said naming the toilets was meant as a joke and as a way to raise money for the toilets, which the organizers could not otherwise afford.

She said toilets could also be named for individuals, restaurants or bars that wanted to sponsor them.

″Of all the objections raised, the only one that worries us is that the company may not rent them to us,″ she said. ″Then we’ll have to think twice about this. I don’t want 100,000 people not able to go to the toilet.″

But because of the news release, volunteer parade coordinator Matthew Foreman, executive assistant to Corrections Commissioner Jacqueline McMickens, may lose his job. The release listed Foreman’s office number as a contact.

″I’m not thrilled my (office) number is on there; it was a mistake,″ said Foreman. Calls to the number are answered ″commissioner’s office.″

″I will do everything not to embarrass her (McMickens),″ Foreman said. ″If that means I have to resign, I will.″

A spokesman for Mayor Edward I. Koch said the inspector general for the Department of Corrections was investigating the use of a city phone number for non-work-related purposes.

As for the naming of the toilets, ″It will not happen,″ said Koch spokesman Tom Kelly.

In its release, the group announced that names for toilets already sponsored included ″The John Cardinal O’Connor Throne Room,″ ″Yehuda’s Heaven″ and ″Dear John.″

The allusions were to three major opponents of the recently enacted homosexual rights bill: O’Connor, the Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, Rabbi Yehuda Levin and City Councilman Noach Dear of Brooklyn.

Dear called the gesture childish, but said he was honored to be associated with the other people chosen.

The Rev. Peter Finn, spokesman for O’Connor, called it not worthy of comment.

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