Libraries of Propaganda

Letter From Ann Arbor

Oliver Wendell Holmes used to say that upon first glance at the books in a library "one gets a notion very speedily of the [reader's] tastes and the range of his pursuits." One can only imagine what Holmes would have thought about our "range of pursuits" had he visited the University of Michigan's Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library, which I use heavily as a visiting scholar, last October during Gay History Month.

On the walls of the foyer behind the Grad Library's main entrance are several large (roughly 4.5' x 5') display cases, normally used for showcasing art or rare books or to educate patrons in proper care for books by displaying varieties of book damage (vandalism, food and drink spills, insect pest damage, broken spines from mishandling, etc.). Throughout October, however, most were propagandizing for homosexuality.

The second one on the left wall contained a rainbow flag (horizontal orange, red, yellow stripes) on loan from Common Language Bookstore, a local gay-lesbian bookstore, with a large "Gay History Month" sign, plus two books on gay-lesbian role models, The Gay 100 and Uncommon Heroes.

The next case addressed homosexual literary figures: black lesbian feminist Audre Lorde; Pier Paolo Pasolini; and Yukio Mihshima, a Japanese homosexual who received a feminizing upbringing from a smothering mother, rebelled against it, and ended up...

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