Regarding Gay History on Textbooks

Personally, I am somewhere in between in this issue. While it does not make sense to sensor information that has direct impact on history regarding the fact that this or the other historic person was gay, I am against mentioning these historic people being gay without a strong historical reason.

For example, this is acceptable in a history textbook: “President Graham Jones was gay and he had a long time relationship with another man. But when this relationship broke apart his partner sold lots of intimate information to the media which an impact in the popularity of the president resulting to Jones losing the election of 2022″.

The following is not acceptable though: “Author Graham Jones was one of the most prolific poets of the 21st Century. He was also gay.”

You see, the first snippet has an impact on history, and so it’s fair to mention it. But the second one, doesn’t. It is not fair for author Graham Jones to put a label on him as being straight or gay. Kids shouldn’t be concerned with his personal life at all. I have personal experience with all this: at school I was told that the Greek poet Kavafis was gay (I was about 12 years old at the time). After 21 years, I remember NONE of his poems, but I do remember my teacher *simply mentioning* (without any bias, she was a Kavafis fan after all) that he was gay and that he had enemies because of that fact. Is this what Kavafis would want to be stamped on and remembered as? I don’t think so. Even if my teacher had the best intentions mentioning Kavafis being gay, that’s the only thing I remember about him (ok, I also remember that he had many enemies in Egypt).

Another example: “Socrates is considered the most important philosopher of the ancient times. Oh, and sometimes, he liked riding teenage boys” (while the statement is true, it’s irrelevant to his works).

Unfortunately, the person who pushes for that bill to go through in California wants mentions of gay people at every chance they get, even if it’s not directly associated with the study itself (from the article: “You could study James Baldwin’s novels and they say James Baldwin was an African-American writer, but they could say he was an African-American gay writer,” Kuehl said.”). And that’s what I am against for. But when it’s really relevant explaining history outcomes I have no problem at all and indeed, children should learn the truth about why some things ended up the way they did.

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Tom wrote on May 15th, 2006 at 2:41 AM PST:

“And that’s what I am against for.” ?

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Eugenia wrote on May 15th, 2006 at 2:56 AM PST:

I thought it was obvious: I am against irrelevant information, read the context. The fact that this writer Kuehl mentioned was gay was irrelevant. Heck, even the fact that he was african-american I find it irrelevant. What matters is only the works this person gave to the world. I am FOR relevant info. I find it completely irrelevant that an author was gay. I should not know about it, it is not my business. And shouldn’t be any child`s business either. But when it is relevant to an important historic event, sure, do teach about it. I hope it`s clearer now.

Thom Holwerda wrote on May 15th, 2006 at 6:26 AM PST:

It’s so funny to see how backwards the US is compared to The Netherlands on all these gay-related non-issues. Someone is gay, someone is straight, who gives a flying fcuk. It does not alter who they are, what they did, or how important they were. Do we mention it everywhere when someone is straight?

Someone’s sexual orientation is only of relevance the moment it directly relates to that person’s place in history, i.e. a homosexual fighting for less barbaric laws in the US. Else, as Seven would say, it is irrelevant.

So all in all, I guess I agree with Eugenia, with the difference that I could even care less.

Tom wrote on May 15th, 2006 at 8:13 AM PST:

Okay, I thought that was the argument, but I wanted to be sure. I definitely agree.

Optimus wrote on May 18th, 2006 at 11:31 AM PST:

Interesting subject. I really haven’t thought of that matter (I guess because I just never got into a senseless mention of gay in a textbook to make me wonder ;) till I read this blog. I have to agree with that though, who cares about that if it doesn’t have to do with history?

I remember the time when someone (historian I think?) made up a theory that Alexander the Great was actually gay. You could see the average greek person crying out loud and swearing against that! Hehe funny reactions!!! And now I laugh and wonder: Who the fuck cares if he was gay? And who the fcuk really cares about the dignity of Great Alexander anyways? ;)

Oh well..

p.s. Hi Eugenia! Nice blog you have here, I really like the Southpark character that truly reminds me you :) . We used to talk a bit through email a lot of years ago. Now I am too much into blogging, found your blog accidentaly and put it in my links to the right of my blog ( I don’t have anything interesting there for the moment rather than dark and long texts, but just so you know.

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Eugenia wrote on May 19th, 2006 at 4:14 AM PST:

Hey, thanks Optimus. Good to see you around again! :)

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