Autumn 2009
Letters to the Editor

Comments from readers about U of T’s queer history, rationality, the ongoing struggle in Afghanistan and academic integrity


The Gay Lens
The beautiful, eye-catching flag on the cover of your Summer 2009 issue is an identifying symbol of the gay movement. As a Christian who considers everyone my neighbour, I’m appalled when anyone is bullied or made to be an outcast. Mistreating people can never be condoned.

letters_200Gay acceptance is a complex and important issue for our society, since it goes to the heart of who we are and what we celebrate as human beings. But I question whether anybody really understands where society is heading as a result of the freedoms and choices of the sexual revolution.

Not everything traditional, such as marriage and family, needs to be revisited and reworked. Many of us draw on these traditions for comfort and security. They connect us to history and give us hope for the future. Why do some members of the gay movement feel that they have to be part of the marriage tradition?

Regarding sexual behaviour and identity, I would like to see more discussion on what role personal choice plays in determining it and to what degree the gay movement is influencing adolescent choices today.

Throughout the article “Out and Proud,” readers are encouraged to view the world through the lens of the gay movement. Yet what people with traditional values see through this lens is the over-sexualization of society.

John Mercer
BASc 1995
Whitby, Ontario

We’ve Come a Long Way
Anne Perdue’s article captures the evolution of LGBTQ visibility at U of T over the decades very well. Around 1986, when I was a Governing Council member, I remember asking the administration if the omission of sexual orientation from the proposed anti-harassment policy was deliberate. The senior staff member presenting it said, “Not on my part.” It was added on the spot. At a Governing Council meeting on “Jeans Day” in 1991, U of T president Rob Prichard and I were the only ones wearing jeans; it would be different today. And as the first openly gay president of the U of T Alumni Association for the last two years, I can say that we’ve come even further since then.

Paul Cadario
BASc 1973
Washington

Invisible Trans
I read “Out and Proud” (Summer 2009) with great interest, but was disappointed to see no mention of transgender or transsexual people. It is as if there were no trans people active in Toronto in the past 40 years – or possibly ever.

Many trans people identify as gay or lesbian and, along with straight people of good conscience, have contributed to the rights movement the article describes. Maybe, sometime in the future, intrepid journalists or historians will unearth the interesting and, as yet, erased history of transsexual people in Toronto. Maybe then we will be able to join those whose history is told here, and who are now formally and explicitly protected by Canadian human rights and hate crime laws.

Jessica Freedman
BA 1974 New
Ottawa

Ed. note: We published an essay by trans alumna Nikki Stratigacos online. Click here to read.

Sex Ed
I was very interested to read Anne Perdue’s article about queer activism at U of T. A piece of the history seems to be missing, though. The Sexual Education and Peer Counselling Centre was an active and vibrant contributor to the U of T community. I was a volunteer at the centre in 1993 and 1994 and co-cordinated the centre in 1995. We trained between 60 and 70 volunteers a year. These volunteers staffed a peer counselling phone line and put on sexual health workshops at the university and in high schools. We also organized an annual sexuality awareness week. In my memory, no other group was doing sexual education on campus at that time. Sexual Diversity Studies was just getting started and LGB OUT (as it was called at the time) primarily organized homo hops.

Posted by Michelle Rosen
BA 1996

U of T Homophile Association Wasn’t First
Anne Perdue refers to the founding of the University of Toronto Homophile Association in 1969 and says that it was, “arguably, the first gay liberation organization in the country.” The association may have been the first lesbian and gay rights organization in Toronto, but certainly not in Canada.

The Association for Social Knowledge (ASK), formed in April 1964 in Vancouver, was the first lesbian and gay rights organization in Canada. Its objectives included public education and supporting law reform. Lesbians, gay men and heterosexuals were members. ASK organized lectures and community events, opened the first lesbian and gay community centre in Canada, and published a newsletter. It disbanded in early 1969.

The history of ASK is considered in detail in standard references such as Gary Kinsman’s The Regulation of Desire and Donald McLeod’s Lesbian and Gay Liberation in Canada.

Donald Casswell
BSc 1972 UC, LLM 1980
Professor Emeritus of Law
University of Victoria

Redefining Pride
Pride at the University of Toronto traditionally has been founded upon admission into an institute of learning known for its high academic standards. Are we now saying that the flowering of pride is rooted in the freedom of gay and lesbian students to earn a degree in the study of their own sexual practices? What a queer tautology.

Mike Scapillato
BA 1972 UTSC
Toronto

Private Preferences
I generally enjoy U of T Magazine, but “Out and Proud” should have been left to the minority it represents. Most of us don’t feel the need to proclaim our heterosexuality, so why is homosexuality a characteristic to be bruited about? Let’s all be satisfied with our private preferences; there is no need to be “in your face.”

I am disappointed that the university has conceded so much time and space to this fringe population. I’ll keep this in mind next time I’m solicited for the Annual Fund.

D. R. Stoll
BA 1952 Victoria
Raleigh, North Carolina

Flaunting the Gay Agenda
I’d like to remind you that not all of your readers have bought the politically correct party line. Compassion and tolerance for gays I fully endorse, but flaunting the gay agenda is about as constructive as flaunting divorce.

A strong society is made up primarily of strong families, but there are too many in academia who have lost sight of this reality.

Dr. John Coombs
BSc 1968 Trinity, MD 1971
Fallbrook, Ontario

Shameful
I am very disappointed with the Summer 2009 edition of U of T Magazine. A great university like ours has thousands of events and achievements to be proud of. The one you put on the cover certainly isn’t one of them.

John Adamkovics
BSc Pharm 1961
Coquitlam, British Columbia

Pride Parade an Irresponsible Spectacle
I have to wonder how flaunting abberant behaviours in public could possibly help the image of gays, particularly those who may be living in a committed union with another person of the same sex. The parades and spectacles endorse a promiscuous and irresponsible style reminiscent of teens or “frosh” yet to mature. I am saddened for the gays who are portrayed falsely in this shameful stereotype.

Posted by Sharon Cebrowski
BEd 1977

LGBTQ Agenda Is Equal Rights
The various comments on Anne Perdue’s article condemning the choice of cover topic, voicing concern about “the gay agenda,” and denouncing the degree programs in sexual diversity studies really concern me.

To the first matter: Given the prevalence with which matters concerning heterosexuals dominate the media, is it really so problematic to devote one cover article to a sexual minority group? Would the same be said if U of T Magazine featured African-Canadian rights struggles on its cover? I don’t think so.

As for the second matter, “the gay agenda” is a propaganda tool created by homophobic, narrow-minded heterosexuals who refuse to realize that the only “agenda” LGBTQ people have is to obtain the same rights as heterosexuals in terms of marriage, employment benefits, legal rights, and public acceptance. Heterosexuals would be left stunned if the rights we as LGBTQ people are fighting for were removed from them. Yet this is how LGBTQ people live every day in most of the world –without protection from discrimination, without the ability to marry, receive spousal employment and health benefits, and without many other rights heterosexuals take for granted.

The third matter is equally concerning. The legitimacy of earning “a degree in the study of [our] own sexual practices” has been questioned. Yet would racial minorities’ ability to study their own racial and cultural background be questioned, as in East Asian Studies or African and Caribbean studies? Or how about the ability to which a woman can study her sex and gender in women’s studies? The Sexual Diversity Studies program combines psychology, anthropology, gender studies, literature studies, sociology, epidemiology, and a plethora of other fields in its multi-dimensional analysis of sexuality and gender. If that’s not a legitimate strand of study, I don’t know what is.

I still fail to understand why thoroughly educated individuals seem to lose all ability to reason when sexual diversity matters come into play. These comments make me ashamed to call people such as yourselves my fellow alumni.

Posted by Stephanie Cook
BPHE 2009

Unitarian Church Permitted Gay Minister Before United
As a U of T alumna, I am proud of the university’s activism in promoting gay rights. I offer my congratulations and compliments to Anne Perdue for a well written article.

As a member of the former Unitarian Congregation of South Peel (renamed Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga) I was a tad miffed by an error of omission in the “The March to Equality” timeline. The Rev. Mark Mosher DeWolfe was called to our pulpit in 1982 after graduating from theological college in 1981. He served as an interim minister. The congregation then voted him in to serve as our permanent minister. He was openly gay and highly qualified to serve. He may have taught at U of T; his academic interest was “Contextual Theology.”

Rev. DeWolfe died from AIDS in 1988. Shortly before his death, Muriel Duncan interviewed him for the United Church Observer. The article, with accompanying photograph, was published under the title “Time to Live.”

Later the congregation published a volume of 10 of Rev. DeWolfe’s sermons entitled Time to Live (which was printed by the University of Toronto Press). The United Church Observer graciously gave us permission to use their photograph and a quotation from the article.

Nothing is 100% perfect. U of T Magazine’s coverage was not quite there with respect to the history of gay rights in Canada.

Yvonne Greig
MEd 1985
Etobicoke, Ontario

Pride’s Significance for Youth May Be Declining
As an LGBT student at the University of Toronto, I feel that Anne Perdue’s story is a testament to the tolerance and acceptance that I can find in the university community. Increasingly, society is accepting people like me, and is allowing us to lead more “normal” lives.

I can see that the sort of political activism and vocal flamboyance is something that is a product of years of discrimination, marginalization and homophobic policies. I would recommend reading Ritch C. Savin-Williams’ book The New Gay Teenager. It discusses the attitudes of LGBT teenagers towards their sexuality, and how vocal they are about it. He finds that amongst teenagers, sexual identities are becoming more fluid, and less easy to define. Thus, the political significance of Pride Parade marches and protests seems to decline.

Posted by Matthew Gray
BA 2012

Teaching Facts Easier Than Teaching Reason
I enjoyed Kurt Kleiner’s article “Why Smart People Do Stupid Things” and the admonition to examine problems more carefully and broadly. I like the idea of teaching people how to think rationally rather than what to remember. It seems to me that the reason this is done less often is that “facts” and techniques are relatively easy to teach and assess, whereas the critical tools to interpret “facts” are more difficult and therefore less “efficient” in the short term.

Posted by David
MMedSci 1987

People Surrender Rational Thought to Religion
I can’t believe Kurt Kleiner doesn’t mention religion in his article “Why Smart People Do Stupid Things.” I can think of no greater example of the surrender of rational thought to superstition by so many otherwise intelligent people. Is the subject still taboo to mention?

Posted by Dave

Recommended Reading
Robert J. Sternberg’s writings on “wisdom” may be appreciated by your readers as common ground. In particular: “How wise is it to teach for wisdom? A reply to five critiques” in Educational Psychologist 2001; 36(4): 269-272.

Posted by John Lovas
DDS 1975

On Prejudice and Ignorance
Kurt Kleiner’s interesting article
made me immediately think back on a quote by the late Sydney Harris: “The fatal mistake that most intelligent people make is assuming that a high degree of intelligence confers an equally high degree of judgment, when actually the correspondence between these is quite accidental. However, there is a high correlation between prejudice and ignorance.”

Posted by Leo Næsager
BEd 1971

Broad Appeal
I have been receiving U of T Magazine since I graduated in 2007, and I so thoroughly enjoy each issue that I am unable to say which articles have affected me the most. How you manage to appeal to both old and new alumni beats me. Keep up the good work!

A. O. Akorede Yusuff
LLM 2007
Ile-Ife, Nigeria

Eating “Locally” Not Just about Distance
Geoff Thomas’s article “The Ideal Distance from Farm to Fork” may have left readers with false impressions of Local Food Plus. LFP certifies farmers for both ‘local’ and ’sustainable’ food production. The sustainable component looks at environmental sustainability in production, habitat preservation, biodiversity, animal welfare, farm labour rights and reduced GHG emissions on the farm. This article implies that LFP is only about local which is not the case.

Posted by Emily
BA 2008

Dying in Vain
I advise Bruce Rolston (“This Is a Generational Struggle,” Spring 2009) to buy Rory Stewart’s The Places in Between, which should be required reading for all politicians, military generals, foreign service personnel, and NGO and UN employees. A British diplomat, Stewart walked across Afghanistan in 2002. His book provides the only accurate, in-depth view of the country that I’ve read. According to Stewart, most Afghans could not care less about such Western ideas as human rights, freedom, a liberal education and democracy. In his view, Afghan women are never going to obtain equal rights. Western ideas about the country are based on Kabul, which is not representative of the countryside. Stewart points out that most people who work with NGOs are parachuted in for a year or two, cannot speak local dialects and restrict themselves to driving SUVs in the secure areas.

I say the sooner Canada’s Armed Forces leave Afghanistan the better. Our soldiers are dying for nothing.

Elliot Fine
BA 1970 New, BEd 1972 OISE
Toronto

Maintaining Academic Integrity
As manager of the Office of Student Academic Integrity at the Faculty of Arts and Science, I was pleased to see the issue of Internet plagiarism featured in “Stolen Words” (Winter 2009). Our office resolves allegations of academic misconduct at the faculty and advises departments on resolving offences. I would like to clarify that the article’s first example – where the purchase of a paper was strongly suspected but unproven, resulting in a “high mark” – is not typical.

Allegations of purchased papers, or papers where the plagiarism is not “cut and dried,” are admittedly challenging to resolve, but the prognosis for these cases is far from hopeless. Even though an instructor may initially be unable to prove that an offence has occurred, help with the investigation is available at the divisional level. Our office resolves offences involving purchased papers every year, sanctioning students with a failure in the course and usually a suspension from U of T for up to one year.

Efforts by faculty and staff to promote academic integrity and report offences when they occur are integral to encouraging proper academic behaviour and maintaining the university’s strong ethical reputation.

Kristi Gourlay
BA 1993 TRIN, MA 1997, PhD 2002
Toronto

Old Building Charms
Your summer issue was excellent! “Bugs by the Bushel” (Calendar) immediately took me back to the early 1960s, to a biology lab in the old medical building. In one of our labs, we were required to dissect a cockroach. The rumour was that, to keep expenses to a minimum, the lab assistants were sent into the back halls to catch as many as were needed for the next day.

Somehow the new buildings on campus lack these old-fashioned touches, don’t they?

Perry Bowker
BSc 1963 UC, MBA 1965
Port Carling, Ontario

Corrections
The back cover of the Summer 2009 issue contained incorrect information about honorary degree recipients. The published list of honorary graduands omitted Keren Brathwaite, an influential U of T leader highly regarded for her educational expertise, and Michael Porter, an authority on the competitiveness of nations and regions. Although Lawrence S. Bloomberg and Andrzej Wajda are honorary degree candidates, their degrees have not yet been awarded.

Former Governing Council chair C. Malim Harding played an instrumental role in the establishment and success of U of T’s Committee of 1,000 and, in fact, served as its first chairman. We provided an incomplete account of the committee’s origins on page 17 of the Summer 2009 issue. U of T Magazine regrets these errors.


Reader Comments

# 1
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 22nd, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

I recently received my first copy of U of T Magazine, and was shocked by some of the letters, above. If D.R. Stoll and John Adamkovics really did read “Out and Proud,” how could they not understand that gays and lesbians face harsh discrimination for a “preference” that is not under their control.

U of T alumni should be proud of the fact that their alma mater recognizes and celebrates minorities. If it were up to people such as Stoll and Adamkovics, who would prefer not to read about minority groups, then I suppose U of T Magazine’s autumn issue would not have featured important stories about democracy in Iran, or how U of T Scarborough helps Chinese students adapt to Canadian culture, or New College’s Buddhism and mental health program, or Toronto’s new Afrocentric school.

U of T encompasses a mosaic of cultures – gay and straight, white and black, Asian and European – because that is the true culture of Canada. To suggest otherwise is frankly insulting to a large number of U of T alumni.

Kunal Chaudhry
MArch 2009
Toronto

# 2
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 22nd, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

I am utterly disappointed that U of T Magazine chose to give any forum to individuals to share their homophobic opinions. By doing so, you have perpetuated discrimination and diminished any positive impact your Summer 2009 cover article may have had. Will you not hesitate to publish letters that promote discrimination against other minority groups as well? I am truly shocked.

Vanessa Wade
MEd 2008 OISE, BEd 2009 OISE
Toronto

# 3
Posted by Michalis Famelis MSc%202010%20DCS on September 23rd, 2009 @ 12:20 pm

Censoring homophobic opinions does not get us anywhere. I too am appalled by some of comments above, but they should be out there, so that they can be criticised openly and (hehe) torn to pieces by those that support the struggle for equal rights for everyone. The struggle for LGBTQ rights is exactly that: a struggle, and it can only take place in a free speech environment.

Arrived here from a @uoftmagazine tweet asking: “Where do YOU draw the line on freedom of speech? Should a magazine publish letters from readers that are homophobic?”

# 4
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 24th, 2009 @ 11:06 am

U of T Magazine published some strange letters protesting Anne Perdue’s article on gay rights, “Out and Proud.” One writer puzzlingly argued that gay marriage deprives heterosexuals of the comfort of tradition. Another grumpily suggested that he would refuse future donations to the university because it embraces the “fringe population” of gay and lesbian people.

These letters only reinforce Perdue’s point. It has taken courage to combat the deeply rooted discrimination against homosexuals. Those who have waged this fight have long had to put up with the outrageous claims and atavistic bigotry of self-described traditionalists. But it’s been worth it – opinions are shifting, and the crowd that wants gays back in the closet is rapidly thinning out.

Someday soon an article like Perdue’s will be entirely uncontroversial.

Bradley Miller
BA 2002 Victoria
Toronto

# 5
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 26th, 2009 @ 10:49 am

I am surprised (and saddened) by the homophobic remarks from some of your readers who reacted to your “Out and Proud” article. Apparently, for them a university education did not lead to enlightenment.

Ronald Huybrechts
BArch 1986
Toronto

# 6
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 28th, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

Why is publishing blatantly homophobic letters still considered “representing all viewpoints,” whereas similar comments about race, gender, ability, class and so on would be relegated to the “unfit for print” pile (and rightly so)? I assume that U of T Magazine adheres to some kind of standards – would you publish similar letters if they were blatantly anti-Semitic? Or anti-poor? Homophobia seems to be the last domain where it is perfectly fine to be offensive and call it a “point of view.”

Jeff Myers
MA 2007
Toronto

# 7
Posted by Scott Anderson on September 29th, 2009 @ 8:02 am

I was thoroughly stunned by the number of letters in your Autumn issue objecting to – nay, ranting about – “Out and Proud.” Who knew U of T counted so many bigots among its alumni? Unlike Mike Scapillato, I am indeed proud that my alma mater has made such strides in welcoming LGBTQ students and nurturing their sense of self and community; and unlike D.R. Stoll, I understand extremely well why “we” don’t feel the need to proclaim “our” heterosexuality in the street – it’s out there already, all the time, proclaimed without shame or fear on our behalf in ways many gay, lesbian and trans men and women still can barely imagine. Your correspondents seem to miss the fundamental point of your story: that U of T is building a more democratic, more ethically sound campus by giving space, voice, and power to a group of students whose predecessors had to hide – both for fear, and for shame – in the shadows.

Kim Solga
PhD 2004
London, Ontario

# 8
Posted by Kerry Clare BA%202002,%20MA%202007 on September 29th, 2009 @ 9:07 pm

Like letter writer D.S. Stoll, I was also disappointed that U of T Magazine devoted so much space to a “fringe population” — that being the minority of readers who found “Out and Proud” offensive. But I also found their letters fascinating to consider because no one I know in my own life thinks this way. The arguments also so easy to pick apart — such as the one from John Mercer, who wonders “why members of the gay movement feel that they have to be part of the marriage tradition”?

Because Mercer answers that very question himself, sentences before: that “many of us draw on [the marriage tradition] for comfort and security. [It] connect[s] us to history and give us hope for the future.” So I wonder, why should homosexuals be excempt from that? And how exactly does their inclusion in the marriage tradition undermine it for the rest of us?

# 9
Posted by Michael BASc%201968 on October 1st, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

I have no comment on hetero or homosexuality. But I would like to comment on the English language and on the regrettable coinings of “homophobia,” “homophilia” and the like. They’re bad English.

“Homo” means “same” and “hetero” means different. To anyone familiar with the language, “homophobic” does not mean “fear or dislike of homosexuals” (unless you consider ‘homo” to be an acceptable shorthand for “homosexual”).

“Homophobic” can only mean “fear or dislike of sameness.” It is therefore ludicrous and illogical to accuse organizations, such as certain armed forces, of being homophobic. They are anything but. They love sameness. They even make everyone dress the same. Armed forces are amongst the most homophilic of organizations.

It’s a pretty poor show that the members of a major university can’t get the language right. Can we please coin more linguistically consistent words for those who like and dislike homosexuals?

And, on the issue itself, the most sensible words I’ve ever read were Mrs. Patrick Campbell’s: “Does it really matter what these affectionate people do — so long as they don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses!”

# 10
Posted by Daniel Reeders on October 4th, 2009 @ 11:01 pm

Michael (BASc 1968) might like to read Gregory M Herek’s excellent article “Beyond Homophobia,” which includes a discussion of the different meanings of the prefix “homo” in classical Greek and Latin.

# 11
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 7th, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

As an educator of religion and a U of T alumna, I was dismayed to read some of the letters in Autumn 2009 issue. These letters suggest that:

Marriage is apolitical and confers no rights on couples who choose to marry

Gay people should consider themselves separate from the traditions and religions of our culture

Gay people should not study the historical and cultural forces of their own oppression. (Should minorities not be allowed to study their own histories?)

Heterosexuality is not proclaimed in our society (despite that fact that almost all media reflects a heterosexual orientation to the world)

U of T should be ashamed of its LGBTQ community.

I live in the United States, in a state where same-sex couples cannot marry. I am glad that U of T Magazine ran “Out and Proud.” It reminded me that equal rights for all is a battle that needs to be fought, even in Canada.

Melissa Conroy
BA 1996 Innis, MA 1997
New Concord, Ohio

# 12
Posted by Michael BASc%201968 on October 7th, 2009 @ 5:03 pm

@Daniel Reeders

I know that “homo” in Greek means “same,” and that “homo” in Latin means “man.” However, “hetero” is only Greek, and means “other.”

While one could argue that “homosexual” means “man sex,” I think it’s obvious that it actually means “same sex.” For one thing, females can be homosexuals and, for another, “heterosexual” can only mean “other sex.”

# 13
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 9th, 2009 @ 10:49 am

Elliott Fine makes the comment, “the sooner Canada’s armed forces leave Afghanistan the better. Our soldiers are dying for nothing.”

I suggest that Mr. Fine go back to History 101.

NATO Secretary General Anders Rasmussem said in a speech recently that the reason for our involvement is “first and foremost to defend our own security.”

To this I would add, to produce a democracy (which would also support Rasmussen’s statement), to allow millions of children — male and female — to go to school, and to give women rights they have never had.

By not being involved, we could one day find the CN Tower a mass of rubble. Then would come the question: “How could this happen?”

I spent three-and-a-half years of my life fighting a situation in Europe that could have been stopped by the type of action Canada is now taking in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are not dying for nothing.

V.S.C. Simpson
BASc 1949

# 14
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 14th, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

I was appalled at some of the responses to the “Out and Proud” feature. The narrow-minded approach of those criticizing your magazine is disappointing. Of course heterosexuals don’t need to “proclaim” their sexuality, as one of your correspondents put it. We are the majority. White people don’t need to proclaim their whiteness either but surely we can understand why oppressed minorities feel the need to express their pride. As for gay people “influencing adolescent choices” one wonders on what planet the letter writer lives if he believes that adolescents are influenced in this way to become gay or lesbian. And how amusing to read that “people with traditional values” think that the gay movement has over-sexualized society. I suppose that heterosexual over-sexualization doesn’t count. We have come a long way but it is clear that not everyone is interested in evolving or changing their ideas in spite of new information.

Ruth Miller
BA 1960 UC1960, MEd OISE 1981
Toronto

# 15
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 20th, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

After enjoying the article “Out and Proud” by Anne Perdue and then reading some of the subsequent moralistic responses by readers, I think it’s fair to say that, while LGBT Canadians now enjoy all the same rights, freedoms, and responsibilities as heterosexual Canadians, we as a society still have some way to go before we conquer ignorance of, and intolerance toward, sexual minorities.

Thank you once again for Perdue’s informative article and for publishing the reader reaction.

Tony Pilla
BA 2005 St. Michael’s, BEd 2007 OISE

# 16
Posted by Scott Anderson on October 22nd, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

The homophobic letters published in your Autumn 2009 issue have prompted me, a gay octogenarian graduate of University College, to discuss with the director of U of T’s Sexual Diversity Studies program an offer to endow an entrance bursary to the program. My $100,000 would be matched by the Ontario government. I also care about other discriminated minorities, as I’m the major funder for an entrance bursary for a First Nations student from a northern Ontario reserve at Lakehead University.

Jack Hallam
BA 1952 UC, MA 1954, PhD 1974
Salt Spring Island, B.C.

# 17
Posted by Cindy on October 27th, 2009 @ 8:26 pm

@Jack Hallam: Jack, I don’t know you, but I love you. As someone who could not afford university education, and struggled through both abuse and discrimination, your actions bring tears of joy. There is hope. Compassionate, caring, courageous people like you make our nation great. Deep gratitude and appreciation.

# 18
Posted by Scott Anderson on November 4th, 2009 @ 8:55 am

I am writing to congratulate you on the commendable job you did in selecting the letters for publication in the autumn issue regarding the “Out and Proud” piece in Summer 2009.

You masterfully covered the very broad spectrum of responses you must have received. The letters were as clear an illustration as I have ever seen of the aphorism that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. In fact, it seems the magazine managed to offend almost everyone with that article.

Initially I was amused to read the letters, but then I remembered that the people writing them had supposedly benefited from an education at U of T and my amusement gradually turned to dismay. What a lot of polite homophobia.

I just wanted you to know that someone appreciated your work.

I enjoyed the article in the summer issue, but I read it and moved on to the next interesting article. More readers should have done the same I think.

David Howe
MA 1984

# 19
Posted by Scott Anderson on December 21st, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

Anne Perdue’s article “Out and Proud” was a wonderful example of the University of Toronto at its best – celebrating its important role in providing active support and open acceptance of the LGBTQ community for over 40 years. The faculty, staff and students who are members of the Positive Space campaign at the University feel proud of their contribution to this history, to the ongoing promotion of work to reduce homophobia, and to the creation of a welcoming environment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people in the university community and the broader society.

Some of the letters in response to the article showed levels of intolerance, ignorance and prejudice. Often it is easier to fight against these obvious forms of oppression and homophobia. The letters which reinforced the ongoing need for the Positive Space Campaign at the University of Toronto were the ones which, despite their apparently positive intent, ultimately counselled silence and passivity by the LGBTQ community. As a teaching institution, it is the responsibility of the university and all its members to move beyond mere tolerance or passivity and to actively strive for equal acceptance and open support of the LGBTQ community.

As the article indicated, there is a long history at the University of Toronto of fighting for more than tolerance, of not accepting passivity and of struggling for full acceptance of all members of its community. Judging by some of the letters, we still have a long way to go.

Members of the Positive Space Campaign
St. George Campus

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