God, this feel like so-20-years ago. Censorship is rearing its ugly head in Ottawa once again, after a father complained to the Hunt-Club Riverside Community Centre, after his son picked up a copy of Capital Xtra, Ottawa’s gay and lesbian newspaper. He is, of course, objecting to an ad for a gay chat line, which appears in the back section of the newspaper.
In an article in Saturday’s Ottawa Citizen (not online unfortunately), Greg Evans is quoted as saying, “I sat there looking back and forth at the pictures and words and the kids’ basketball practice, and I thought, ‘this is wrong.'”
Now a city councillor has taken up the case, and is apparently going to encourage city council to discuss an across-the-board ban on “explicit material” in community centres.
I don’t know whether to stifle a yawn or hit the streets, because this issue just refuses to go away for the queer community.
First of all, I find it hard to believe that the city is actually taking one complaint seriously. I mean, do people read the Ottawa Sun? Because I’d like someone to explain to me why the Sunshine Girl doesn’t elicit the same condemnation as a photo of two men embracing.
Are we to believe that the objectification of women is socially acceptable, while the queer community’s depiction of our own sexuality should be condemned as obscene? That sounds like a double-standard to me.
Besides, children young enough to be “vulnerable” to sexually explicit content should not be left alone and unsupervised in public places where they could read free periodicals. Frankly, I find anti-choice religious rhetoric more damaging than any depictions of nudity and sexuality. The Christian Right offends my “community standards.” Should we also ban advertisements for church socials and anti-abortion rallies?
Also, to quote Gareth Kirkby, editor of CapX:
Queers want access to our community newspaper of choice, just like everyone else. We live throughout the city and we want our paper treated exactly on par with other papers and widely available.
Capital Xtra is not an adult publication. It is a community newspaper. Like other local papers, it has a small amount of advertising devoted to dating services, escorts and so on. But the overwhelming majority of space goes to local, provincial and national news and views, along with listings and arts and culture coverage.
The municipal government has no business restricting the content of community newspapers.
Gays and lesbians are sick of having our lives and our media put under a microscope. It’s deeply offensive to keep asking us to justify ourselves. It’s time Ottawa dealt with our existence and our way of life and moved on.