Friday, December 12, 2008

Censorship at BY"U"

[Thanks to a tip from Mere.]

You may remember Fosco's feelings about Mormon higher education. Well, here's another troubling story.

J. Michael Wiltbank, a student at BY"U", submitted a final project for an art class that contained photographs of gay BY"U" students and their supportive friends. As Wiltbank explained the project:

I am not telling the viewer who identifies themselves as homosexual, because I hope the viewer will realize that placing a label with the portrait only creates divisions in our society and furthers stereotypes. It is my hope this body of work can be a vehicle for tolerance, support, love and change.
You can find some photographs from this project here.

According to his blog, BY"U" decided to take down his contribution to the show:
Apparently the topic of homosexuality is a bit much for the BYU audience and my part of our Fine Art Classes show was taken down today. It seems that censorship is favored over support and love. This really saddens me.
Luckily, after Wiltbank blogged about the censorship, BY"U" allowed his photos to be displayed, blaming their original removal on a "miscommunication" (HA!). Wiltbank (who strikes me as a genuinely generous person) is encouraged by this:
I think the administration's action has been a good example of that increased understanding.
Like I said, Wiltbank seems generous.

From where Fosco is sitting (some 800 miles away and 50-60 years in the future), the whole thing still seems somewhat sad. Think about it: all Wiltbank wanted to display were photographs of young Mormon men, some of whom self-identify as gay. The photos are not naked, sexually explicit, anti-religious, or provocative in any way--except, of course, that they show nice, normal-looking Mormon kids who just happen to be almost as sinful as murderers. (And we all know that there is nothing more "normal-looking" than a Mormon.)

This isn't about BY"U" condoning/condemning gay sex or gay marriage or gay parenthood (or any of those other activities that drive the LDS crazy and make them want to ship tons of money out of state); rather, what BY"U" tried to do here, even for a little while, was to efface the existence of Gay Mormons altogether. And that makes Fosco angry.

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