Sep 30, 2013

Spring 1981: Only Serious Heterosexuals Need Apply

Dorm Shower
University of Toronto professor David Gilmour, an "acclaimed author," is under fire for an interview he gave with Hazlitt Magazine, in which he explains why he doesn't have any women or gay men (or Chinese) authors on his syllabus: "I only teach the people that I truly, truly love.  Unfortunately, none of them happen to be women, or Chinese.  I only teach serious heterosexual guys -- F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Roth, Henry Miller."

Apparently gay authors can produce witty, humorous works, but not serious literature.

The fact that this homophobic, racist, sexist jerk still has a job doesn't surprise me -- I'm in academe, where homophobia, racism, and sexism is rampant.

East Hall
I remember a spring afternoon in 1981, my junior year at Augustana, sitting in my Modern American Literature class in East Hall.  Dr. Dahlquist (not his real name), a grim, rotund hobbit, was lecturing on The Sun Also Rises, but I heard only a low drone; I was gazing out the southern window, at the Fratboys tossing Frisbees on the quad, or reclining under trees with paperbacks. I couldn’t read their titles, but I was certain that they were all about boys falling in love with girls.

Suddenly,to break the silence, or just to stir things up a bit, I raised my hand and asked if Ernest Hemingway may have been Gay.  (I think I said "Homosexual Tendencies."

Dr. Dahlquist stared, utterly taken aback. Someone behind me stifled a snicker. Otherwise the room became absolutely silent.   I was certain that the Deplorable Word had never been spoken in any classroom at Augustana College, or at any classroom at any college anywhere in the world.

After glancing at the other students, then back to me again, Dr. Dahlquist decided that I was not wisecracking or being initiated into a frat, but asking a legitimate question, however scandalous. He forgot all about Hemingway and began an impromptu lecture:

Christopher Marlowe
That currently fashionable vice destroys the intellect, Dr. Dalhquist said, reducing its victims to flitty, waspish creatures fit only for manicuring and gossip.

In spite of the ambiguities of his verse, we know that Walt Whitman scattered illegitimate children along the Eastern seaboard.

Shakespeare’s infamous sonnets written to  “Mr. W. H.” reflects a mere convention of the day, and Christopher Marlowe’s reputed love of  “tobacco and boys” was a defamation by his enemies.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a priest, therefore celibate, and as for Oscar Wilde, history tells them that he was merely “posing” as a sodomite: he had a wife and two children:

“The idea that a homo might have the wits to be a writer, especially a great writer, is absurd.”

Strangely enough, Dr. Dahlquist also taught my Creative Writing class, and constantly praised my stories. 

Thirty years have passed, but not much has changed.  Only "serious heterosexuals" need apply.