- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

Queering The Public Library

A friend in my old Philadelphia neighborhood sent in this snapshot advertising an event at the local branch library. Turns out that “30 Days Of Gay” [1] is a thing happening in all the city’s public libraries. From the library website:

The Free Library is dedicated to inclusivity and diversity, with neighborhood libraries serving as welcoming and safe spaces for all Philadelphians. We offer information on bullying, safety, and coming out; books and resources for parents and siblings; biographies of important LGBTQIA+ figures in the community; and award-winning LGBTQIA+ fiction. In addition, the Independence Library’s Barbara Gittings Gay & Lesbian Collection is the largest dedicated LGBTQ public library collection east of the San Francisco Public Library.

OK. Here’s another Pride month event you might wish to go to. At the public library:

Drag Show
Wed, June 28, 2017 5:30 p.m.
Philbrick Hall at Parkway Central Library

June is LGBT Pride Month! To celebrate, join us for an evening of drag performances! Doors open at 5:30pm. The show is from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Teens! Want to perform? Contact [email protected] to sign up. This program is made possible by grants from the Philadelphia City Institute Board of Managers, Independence Foundation, and The Christopher Ludwick Foundation.

What on earth is a public library doing staging a drag show, including one for teenagers? The Free Library (the name of the city’s public library system) welcomes all Philadelphians, except parents and others who would rather not have to deal with drag queens in the library, or who would rather just go to the library without being propagandized for a social movement.

Here’s an article in a professional library online journal by a Free Library official [2] who advises colleagues nationwide how to queer their libraries. Excerpts:

Matching kids and books in a gender neutral way is a way to serve everyone better, as a default. Many of the children you serve might be trans or queer. Some of them could realize it already and perhaps even be ready to come out, and very likely many more are somewhere in a long process of self-identification, understanding, and acceptance. And even children who will end up being straight deserve a gender-neutral approach; some little boys are going to grow up and have long hair and paint their fingernails (and be straight!). Actively seeking out books with illustrations, stories, and themes that celebrate individuality and dignity in diversity, including books that do not rely on rigid gender roles, primes librarians to improve their services to kids of different sizes, abilities, ethnicities, classes, and other groups who are not defined by our culture’s version of “normal.” You probably already have these three titles in your collection that do just that: Helen Lester’s Tacky the Penguin, Leo Lionni’s A Color of His Own, and Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. These improved services will also positively affect the adults in their lives.


Libraries and librarians will experience pushback when they explicitly welcome trans and genderqueer people using these strategies. Laws in several states do or would prevent trans patrons from using their bathrooms of choice. Be ready with policies—both personnel policies and public policies—that explicitly let trans and genderqueer people use the restroom facilities they find most appropriate, in the same way you might use a collection development policy to answer a complaint about a book.

In the Chestnut Hill branch library, a beautiful, homey neighborhood space, the bathrooms are now ungendered. The bathrooms there are not welcoming and safe spaces for children and their parents who are uncomfortable sharing intimate space with people of the opposite sex. But then again, those crazy bigots don’t count.

I eagerly await the inevitable Havel’s Greengrocer [3] Moment, when people get sick and tired of having cultural progressivism shoved down their throats, and having the ordinary things of life — like public libraries — turned into propaganda mills by cultural revolutionaries. Let libraries be libraries, for pity’s sake! Does every public space have to be turned into a culture-war battlefield by progressives?

UPDATE: “Why are you social conservatives so obsessed about sex and homosexuality?” ask the people who stage drag queen children’s story hour at the public library.  [4]

56 Comments (Open | Close)

56 Comments To "Queering The Public Library"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 30, 2017 @ 1:02 pm

If you’re a person who sees gay people as “other” then your complaint makes sense.

Oddly enough, the whole gay movement has been about gay people “coming out” as “other” and then demanding that people celebrate their “otherness.”

There used to be a post card lampooning the notion of “the gay lifestyle.” It ran down such themes as “watch them as they do their laundry, wash the car, weed the garden, catch the bus to work in the morning, shop for groceries…” And if that is what it was all about, its all true. No reason to treat them different or even seek to know IF someone is “gay” when they do all these things just like the rest of us.

#2 Comment By Franklin Evans On June 30, 2017 @ 1:54 pm

Oddly, enough, Siarlys, the “gay movement” was never about being celebrated. That’s a canard slapped over the notion that they could celebrate themselves in public, by those whose first assertion of offense was that they had the gall to be in public at all.

I’ve often noted the logical connection between the Christian tenet of proselytization and their angry fear that seeing gay people would proselytize others into becoming gay. I’d respectfully expect you to see the fallacy of that notion. It’s that same notion that has kept Pagans and other non-mainstream religions in the closet for nearly as long as gays were in it.

#3 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On June 30, 2017 @ 8:41 pm

I see many fallacies that you’d expect me to see Franklin. And by experience and observation, I was in the mid-70s oriented to endorse any “liberation” movement no matter what designation preceded the word. I was as happy to lampoon Anita Bryant as anyone, and I don’t regret it. She was a blustering fool who didn’t know what she was talking about.

But, I have also, from at least 1975, seen a disturbing narcissistic streak in the gay movement. I didn’t borrow my assertion about “being celebrated” from any propagandist or philosopher. I’ve pieced it together from painstaking observation of news articles and cultural offerings over a period of thirty years.

Your logical connection is just that — a logical connection. It may even be true of some Christians. It doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m putting forward here. I do see a similar bit of narcissism in some pagans and agnostics and atheists (none of which have much in common, they’re just none of them the majority religious faith). That is, e.g., when a Wiccan priestess insists that she be considered as a candidate for prison chaplain, where there is only one, on the ground that she can serve a Roman Catholic inmate just as well as a Presbyterian minister can… which isn’t really so. Although on a volunteer basis, I believe let a hundred flowers bloom, as long as there is at least one inmate who wants your brand.

There is such a thing as, your right to equal employment opportunity does not trump the rights of the people you are being hired to serve… which could run off on a tangent about the “right” of female correctional officers to work in male prisons, which in turn meant more male officers working in female prisons… But we’ll save that for another day.

The loudest, most raucous, most demanding voice of the gay movement are indeed about being celebrated, and about the duty of everyone to celebrate their gayness. That’s my observation over some decades. I see it in many of the “demands” put forward in various incidents, in the way political pronouncements are shaped, in many of the workplace atmospheres some here have described — albeit some of these may be exaggerated or distorted, not all of it.

Diversity is not about all of us loving and admiring each other. It is about all of us being civil and living together in peace even though each and every one of us thinks that some of what inspires and excites some of our fellow citizens stinks.

I expect that a majority of my gay fellow citizens aspire to no more than that, but you wouldn’t know it for the way politicians and pundits cater to those who demand approbation and prostration.

#4 Comment By DRK On July 2, 2017 @ 9:17 am

“I expect that a majority of my gay fellow citizens aspire to no more than that, but you wouldn’t know it for the way politicians and pundits cater to those who demand approbation and prostration.”

“Approbation and prostration”, right. Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Texas Supreme court just ruled against same sex marriage benefits.


One-fifth of all hate crimes are committed against LBGT people, a rate that is is particularly high, considering that they are such a small percentage of the population.


And, of course, there are still at least 18 states where you can be fired simply for being gay. It’s worth noting in this context that in several of those states, cities have passed antigay discrimination ordinances but the states are trying to supersede them; this has happened or is happening in Kentucky, Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.

At times, reading this column and its comments is truly like existing in some alternate reality.

#5 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 2, 2017 @ 8:56 pm

One-fifth of all hate crimes are committed against LBGT people

So what? They are crimes, and should be prosecuted as such. The fact that the victim is gay is not an extenuating circumstance. But it doesn’t make the crime any worse either. All violent crimes contain an element of hate, and I don’t much care what the particular motive is, its a crime. And yes, I say that about racial hate crimes too. Don’t let Dylan Roof feel like he’s special, he’s a common criminal, period.

And, of course, there are still at least 18 states where you can be fired simply for being gay.

As long as there is some degree of “at will employment” you can be fired for any reason or no reason. I think “at will” employment should be outlawed. But I don’t much care if the REASON is “the boss doesn’t like gay people” or any other reason. How many times do I have to repeat (I’ve said it so many times already in this space), that people who are gay are ONLY different in one limited respect… and discriminating over that in commerce, etc., or in hiring and firing is indeed invidious discrimination?

“Approbation and prostration”, right.

Unfortunately, that seems to get a lot more press than discrimination in hiring. Of course I do live in a state that outlawed employment discrimination against gays some thirty years or more ago.

#6 Comment By hogtowner On July 4, 2017 @ 3:52 pm

At your local pubic library… ?

Though, to be fair, libraries often rent space out to community groups of various kinds. I remember going to an Eckankar meeting at a public library room in the early 1980s. Eckankar was/is a religious cult. (I went to 1-2 meetings, never got into it).