Conflict in gay community?
Re: Pride Library
To the Editor:
I recently visited the new Pride Library, a gay and lesbian resource centre at Western. I have a few observations that I would like to share.
First of all it seems strange to me that this resource centre is located in a professor's office and not in some more appropriate location. Gay, lesbian and bisexual commission resources, in other words student resources, surely should be located in some student space. Perhaps somewhere in the UCC would be appropriate. Unfortunately this university has failed year after year to provide any student space for gay, lesbian and bisexual issues and resources.
Because there is no such space, the GLB Commissioner asked that the GLB Library be placed in the new Pride Library. The University Students' Council has allowed the resources to be placed there under the absolute control of one single professor who, if students aren't happy with his running out of space, can never be replaced or voted out. The USC has basically given student resources to one professor's private book collection. I guess this was the easiest thing to do, seeing how the USC continues to make excuses for why it can't allocate some space for a student GLB resource centre.
The biggest problem, however, that I see with this new centre is that it is not actually a gay and lesbian resource centre. I would estimate that 90-95 per cent of the resources are gay men's resources. The feeling of the space is also male-oriented. Of the many posters in the room, only one or two very small ones are of lesbian images. The space is under the absolute control of its single male director and it's in his office certainly not neutral territory. I have heard the argument that this is a start and that women's resources will be increased yearly. I find it hard to believe that numerous GLB commissioners will commit to purchasing only women's resources for many years to come. It would take a very long time and a lot of money to even out the existing resources. Even if by some miracle this were to occur, it wouldn't change the very serious problems at the centre.
So why not call the centre what it is: a gay man's resource centre? I have no problem with a professor taking his private resources and making them accessible to the university community. That is a good thing. But he shouldn't try to pass off the collection as something it is not. By calling the centre a gay and lesbian space, women are in fact being silenced. When women go looking for their queer space and resources on campus, they are pointed in the direction of the Pride Library. When they visit and see very few women's resources and images, they'll wonder if they are even in the right place. But that will be it, that will be their space, because one professor has decided to pass off a gay man's space as a gay and lesbian space. It is unfortunate that the USC has stood by and allowed this to happen and that it still refuses to provide a student GLB centre on campus.
I would advise women to keep these things in mind when they go to the new Pride Library, and if queer women are looking for a more friendly, woman-positive space, they can find uwOUT! resources located in the Women's Issues Network office, third floor in the UCC.
President, uwOUT!, 1996-97