A public art exhibit in a small town library in Canada has been censored because one person found a gay sculpture offensive. The library threw a cloth over the sculpture (which is tame, it's "Joy" at the link, not the photo to the right) while they decide what to do. Here's what the local paper had on the one letter that got the work covered up:
In a letter published on Dec. 9, Tillsonburg resident Greg Friesen said he found it "appalling that the person(s) responsible for hosting this exhibit would be so insensitive as to put something as controversial as homosexuality in a public library."?
"Since when did a public library become a place to showcase any sort of sexuality?" he wrote. "When I go to the library with my children, I don't want to be seeing, let alone explaining homosexual intimacy to my children. If this was behind closed doors or in a spot which one had to deliberately go to view it (i.e. art gallery), I wouldn't be so irate."?"This is a public place, paid for with my tax dollars and for that reason I call for the removal of this display. My family (along with many others that I know of) will not be entering the library until such a time as this display is removed."?
So what's up with museums lately and bending over backwards to accommodate the one person who has a problem with art, even art that was hand-picked by a community board to be "family friendly"? The issue, clearly, is the fact that the artist himself is gay and his art depicts two men not hurting each other.
At first glance, this appears to be one of those situations where something would have gone unnoticed, or at least uneroticized, until it had the label "gay" slapped on it and that made it too hot for some people. While I don't like it when we gay people try to neuter ourselves to make us more presentable to a conservative audience, it's also unfair to assume that every emotion that a gay person feels is rated XXX. Sexuality exists, but not everything is about anal sex.
But then there is something with that sculpture that's bigger than the artist. While in many parts of the world two grown men holding each other and just being happy is completely acceptable, here the question of why they're happy doesn't even get brought up. Are they at someone's wedding? Are they excited by something at work? Are they great, platonic friends? Are they excited over a football match? Who knows, that's not really the point of the sculpture, but men just aren't supposed to behave that way.
It reminds me of that Seinfeld scene when George and Jerry's idea for a sitcom gets taken up by NBC and they're excited and they go to hug each other, and just as they're about to touch they realize what they're doing and turn away. It's true - even when it's perfectly natural for two straight men to express joy, they're going to try to do it in separate areas, away from one another, anything to avoid the appearance of being gay.
It's a tragedy for everyone that we're so afraid of same-sex contact, much less same-sex desire that lots of people who aren't gay or bi experience but can't acknowledge. What makes that tragedy ironic here is that joy itself has to be covered up because some people think that it's inappropriate for children to know it exists.