Library Covers Gay Artist's Statues With Bedsheet
With all this silly hoopla over the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council requesting their stations to play a version of “Money for Nothing” that has been edited for radio to replace a homophobic slur, I think it’s time to remind ourselves what real censorship looks like.
Before the holidays, a library in the town of Tillsonburg, Ontario, put three sculptures on display by R Bruce Flowers, a retired teacher turned full-time artist. They’re phenomenal. One depicts two older men in a playful headlock, another is of two hands grasping each other. The last one depicts a man with his arm over his eyes, entitled “Dreamer.”
The artwork was a big hit, gaining a favourable review in the town’s local newspaper. When the article mentioned the artist was gay, however, the mood surrounding the sculptures changed.
“The local Baptist church took great offence to the work as soon as they found out I was a gay sculptor,” Flowers told Xtra in an interview last month. “It seems to have contaminated the work; suddenly it was all negatively eroticized.”
Shortly after the article’s publication, the display case that featured the sculptures was covered with a bedsheet, hiding them from view.
John Friesen, a pastor in Tillsonburg’s New Hope church, said that he hadn’t seen the sculptures, but found them to be against family values. “It’s not portraying family values,” he told the media. “Do you see a man and a woman and children?”
Do I see a man and woman and children? Well no, actually. I imagine all I’d have seen is a bedsheet, but thanks for asking.
Friesen’s son, Greg, also got a word in with the media: “When I go to the library with my children, I don’t want to be seeing, let alone explaining, homosexual intimacy to my children,” he said.
It took a meeting with the town’s mayor before the sheet was finally removed. While the artwork is now available for admiration again, the artist is shaken. “It’s not like they came and studied the work, analyzed it, and then were offended by it,” he said. “No. It’s just because I’m a gay sculptor.”