Volume II Number 3
November 3, 1995
What Did They Say About Gays?
Toronto: ECW Press, 1995. 180pp, paper, $16.95.
ISBN 1-55022-235-X. CIP.
Homosexuality-Quotations, maxims, etc.
Grade 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Ted Monkhouse.
"I come to this book because of my Jewishness, and, not
unrelatedly, because of my lifelong involvement in civil
rights for blacks. Those three groups, of course, have very
much in common: biblical threats and rejection, historical
mockery and hatred, long struggles for civil and legal
rights, revulsion by society, stonings, lynchings, even
murder. . . . There are some real shockers in this book, at
least to this sympathetic heterosexual. . . . In
anthologizing and editing a book like this, one must have
guidelines, and I choose to follow two. First, few, if any,
writings from fiction; and second, and most important, no
comments from homosexuals."
-- from "A Very Personal Introduction")
This is Gould's twenty-second book, and one of several anthologies he has edited. Gould is a literary scholar (PhD, York University; MA, New York University) who
has gathered what over a hundred scholars, philosophers, scientists,
organizations, religions, and poets said and wrote about homosexuality
and homosexual men. So it is a learned, yet entertaining work; balanced in
viewpoint and encompassing in scope.
Besides religious pronouncements, the book presents the views on
homosexuality of luminaries from 2500 B.C. to the present, including
Shaw, Rousseau, Voltaire, Kant, Lord Baden Powell (founder of the Scout
movement), Pope John Paul II, Pliny the Elder, Winston Churchill, Samuel
Pepys, Marshall McLuhan, Dylan Thomas, and Newt Gingrich, to name a very
few. All selections ascribe the source, most of which are credible in a
scholarly sense. None promote homosexuality, but together they provide a
spectrum of moral, ethical, legal, religious, political, and
philosophical thought and research on what is still a socially sensitive topic.
What Did They Say About Gays? is organized by epoch: from
the Babylonians to foundations of Christianity; the Middle Ages to the
Renaissance; the Enlightenment to the nineteenth century; the turn of the
century to World War II; and finally, World War II to the present.
The reader easily sees the evolution, or lack thereof, of the history of
thought about homosexuality.
As a reference tool it is very helpful but the lack of even simple
indexing of those quoted is frustrating. The book is surely not intended
to be read from beginning to end, yet the reader is unable to easily find
out the position of any given church, leader, religion, or writer on
homosexuality without a good deal of thumbing through the pages. The
selections seldom exceed one page and so the 180 pages present more than
100 entries, which can only be individually located by knowing where they belong chronologically.
A school or church library should have no hesitation in owning this
book. It in no way sensationalizes -- it is even physically drab in its
appearance and layout. What Did They Say About Gays?
merely presents the topic as seen or studied by others in a balanced,
rational, dispassionate manner.
Ted Monkhouse, is a retired Teacher/Librarian from Guelph, Ontario.
Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is
maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
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