It's reassuring to learn that your lofty "standards for news" have kept you from printing the names of allegedly gay individuals who have been targeted for public exposure, or "outing," by "AIDS terrorists" {"The Media, at Odds Over Outing," Style, July 13}.

But your paper's foray into the "outing" debate makes it clear that you do not have an inkling of a gay perspective on this or any other important contemporary issue that involves homosexuality. The media -- through their ignorance, their discriminatory hiring practices, their internal bigotry, their lack of objectivity in coverage of gay issues and, most of all, through their silence -- have helped create the situation they now are at a loss to explain. If homosexuality had been treated honestly, objectively and thoroughly by the mainstream media during the years, presumably far fewer homosexuals today would have to be forced kicking and screaming out of a self-imposed and societally imposed closet.

What most straight people fail to grasp is the sense of urgency, frustration and impatience felt by many gays who have paid the considerable price associated with being honest with themselves, and with the world, about who and what they really are by "coming out." In part this is because of the AIDS debacle.

It also has to do with the realization that despite ironclad assurances to the contrary, equal justice does not always just happen without the application of equal measures of political activism and vigilance. The activism of blacks and Jews and other minorities has gotten them included in the reportorial and editorial mix. The gay community is belatedly discovering that it too can carry significant economic, political and social clout.

Incidentally, if your paper really does adhere to Managing Editor Leonard Downie's stated standards for news -- that the charge is true and that it is "germane" -- then the name of the mysterious senator ought to be revealed in print. As much credibility should be attached to his vehement denials concerning his alleged sexual orientation as was given to Richard Nixon's insistence that he was "not a crook." Your experienced reporters know only too well how to go about the task of getting at the "truth."

With regard to Downie's requirement that the news is "germane -- that it affects the official's job or reflects on character in a way that voters would consider important," there is little question that a gay U.S. senator who wraps himself in the cloth of a fundamentalist sect that excoriates homosexuals, who votes against or refrains from taking positions on gay rights legislation, who advocates causes and individuals whose intention has been to deny full citizenship to some 10 percent of the American public, who accepts money from organizations and individuals who have an interest in keeping gays as second- or third-class Americans surely meets the requirement of his homosexuality being "germane."

-- Stan Sparks