Wednesday, February 15, 2006


The sign on the front desk reads "Queeries." The office has a giant window in the shape of a Q. Green walls and purple carpets greet students.
Any idiot on the street can have pride — the difference between genuine and vicarious accomplishment being entirely subjective, apparently — but only certain self-designated classes can have Pride:
The Pride Library at the University of Western Ontario has come out of the closet, with 200 people celebrating its opening yesterday on the main floor of Weldon Library after 10 years of being shuffled from place to place.
"Valentine's Day at Western is never going to be the same again. It's got to be the queerest Valentine's Day we've had," joked James Miller, the library's co-ordinator and founder.
"This facility is unique in North America. At Western, we embrace diversity as a defining principle" [said UWO president Paul Davenport].
"You have something we don't have in Toronto. I am extremely jealous," said Mathieu Chantelois, host of PrideVision TV's Read Out! and a regular on CBC's The Hour.

Chantelois spoke of the relief he discovered in high school when he read a book with gay characters. "I started crying and crying and couldn't stop crying. It wasn't a story about them; it was a story about us, about me."

The library is important not only for research, but as a social centre, he said. "To flirt, to find boyfriends and girlfriends, that is important as well."
The library entrance also features a stained glass work by London artist Lynette Richards.

"Stained glass is a metaphor for light coming through," she said. "I hope that window will encourage people to let their own light shine through."
Pride seems to mean a lot of things these days — it means the suggestion of cultural fiat, it means substituting meaningless buzzwords for principles, it means coquettish emotional demonstrations, it means banal absurdly inscrutable metaphors. It's too bad that one thing Pride clearly doesn't mean is dignity.


Alberta Pat said...

What in God's name is going on at UWO? It seems to want to be known as the most PC university in N. America. As a long-time resident of London, it appears to me that UWO is utterly out of touch with reality. Once upon a time it was known for a modest but acceptable academic record, a fair humanities research profile, and a good medical research establishment. Its law faculty had some dubious characters, now promoted to the federal bench or to the Department of Justice where they can make the maximum nuisance. I guess that's where the rot started.

Ah, for the days of Country Club U!

Anonymous said...

Having works about homosexuals is fair, especially since a lot of the great literature in the regular library is written by homosexuals.

The real question should be: why was literature about homosexuals denied library space before now?

Dr Kyla, Londoner (also a contributor on _The Hour_)

Phronk said...

As usual, I barely know what you're trying to say, but it seems vaguely homophobic.

I don't see anything wrong with this...where's the lack of dignity?

Maybe I just don't get it.

MapMaster said...

Believe it or not, Phronk, I am quite grateful that you have only suggested a semblance of homophobia without outright accusing me of it. Those who know me would be quite astonished to find that anyone would think I'm homophobic, but then you don't know me — your comment was more mitigatory than some that I could have expected given the propensity of so many to presume offence against culturally-tempered limits for PC-approved associations.

My criticism — if you can even call it that — is aimed at the vulgar, meaningless and childish demonstrativeness of some homosexuals and their supporters under the banner of the word "Pride." The word, now, has lost all its life — while never synonymous with dignity, genuine pride is debased when not carried with dignity. Moreover, genuine pride is properly felt ordinate to one's genuine accomplishments, rather than vicariously felt through association. And if the association is accidental, or by birth, as many homosexuals claim to take advantage of insitutional protections, the vicarious pride is even cheaper. If you don't see a lack of dignity, that's your interpretation. I see it otherwise, but I'm not suggesting any censure in any case, just an observation.

Homosexuals can do as they please, and it certainly doesn't bother me if they want to have a library. Furthermore, I readily acknowledge that libraries typically have special collections for certain interests, and there's no reason why there shouldn't be a gay and lesbian section at the Weldon Library. (Why anyone would have an academic or otherwise interest in literature or studies about a particular sexual orientation is beyond me, but whatever turns a person on…) By calling it a Pride Library, however, its proponents are abandoning any pretense to serious academic purposes as befits an academic library, and are simply being unbecomingly demonstrative for their own sake. Is the subject pride? If so, is the purpose of our educational institutions simply to inculcate feelings, especially if those feelings are understood as nothing more than cheap emotional upholstery?

As a student, I do take exception to the university's complicity in these kinds of vulgar and meaningless displays. If the university took the subject of gay and lesbian studies seriously, I don't think it appropriate to institutionally engage in or pander to such demonstrativeness. In answer to Alberta Pat, UWO, as with most or all universities, is home to a rarified atmosphere almost entirely detached from real life — the void is too easily filled with mindless platitudes. As such, there is never any shortage of volunteers for slightly hysterical and exquisitely ethereal causes. In the case of UWO, though, the rot really starts at the top — there's never a public communication from the university's president Paul Davenport that isn't filled top to bottom with devotions to every untenable progressive buzzword. They're really quite appalling.

Sky Captain said...

It's no good Mapmaster.
Any resistance at all to the patronisation of the activist active homosexuals, who realise that they have a valid gripe as to their lot in life(whether they admit it or not),will automatically expose you to accusations of 'homophobia'(taken to mean resentment of homosexuals, actually meaning 'fearing other men').
This is precisely the sort of taboo/mind exclusion that the creators of the (bowel)movement wish to engender.
All scoundrels first seek to place themselves above judgement, before committing their crimes, for they are both cowards and liars.

Phronk said...

This seems a bit like arguing semantics. The word "pride", in the context of gay issues, differs from the everyday use of the word. The word has taken on additional meaning through its frequent association with these issues (i.e. "gay pride" are two words that now naturally flow together). Sure, the library isn't about "pride" in general, but it's clear to most modern people what is meant by it. Perhaps "Library for Gay and Lesbian Studies" would be a more descriptive title, but more wordy. I still don't see a lack of dignity implied by the title they chose.

And you question why anyone would study sexual orientation. Why wouldn't they? Sexuality is a major part of every human life. It affects every aspect of our existence. Why would such an important topic of study be ignored?

MapMaster said...

It's just me, I'm sure, but I am at a loss to see what is to be gained by studying sexual orientation. But, as I said before, whatever turns people on…

I grant that "gay pride" has a semantic meaning that is quite divorced from ordinary conceptions of what "pride" means. What that meaning is, I couldn't really say. Can you? It's a pity, I think. If dignity is bequeathed by exchanging meaning for a meaningless slogan on the name of a library, dignity is meaningless too. But in any case, our definitions of dignity seem to differ. I consider a "Queeries" sign on the front desk and the gratuitous "It's got to be the queerest Valentine's Day we've had" of the library's coordinator and founder to be beneath the propriety the place and occasion would demand. "To flirt, to find boyfriends and girlfriends, that is important as well." That, I think, speaks for itself — it is a library after all. In the case of Paul Davenport and Lynette Richards, I'm sure that their physical comportment was of the most upright semblance of dignity — unfortunately, it was accompanied by absolute idiocy coming from their mouths.