Bessie Sullivan: Hello, I’m Bessie Sullivan from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
For the first time ever June first marks the beginning of gay pride month in Canada. Erin recently told you about a new publication at the library that highlights some of the LGBTQ resources that are in the library’s collection. The collection contains fiction and nonfiction, audiovisuals and online resources. We identified this collection in partnership with Point in Time whose main priority is LGBTQ youth, however the collection has something for everyone youth, adults, LGBTQ identified or straight.
Today on Library Moments Sherrill Sherwood, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will each talk about a resource from our LGBTQ pamphlet.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Natural Order by Brian Francis tells the story of Joyce Sparks. Joyce has lived the whole of her 86 years in a small community in Ontario. Now she occupies a bed in what she knows will be her final home, a shared room at Chestnut Park Nursing Home where she contemplates the bland streetscape through her window and tries not to be too gruff with the nurses.This is not at all how Joyce expected her life to turn out. As a girl, she’d allowed herself to imagine a future of adventure in the arms of her friend Freddy Pender, whose chin bore a Kirk Douglas cleft and who danced the cha-cha beautifully. Though troubled by the whispers of her sister and friends that he was “fruity,” Joyce adored Freddy. When Freddy led the homecoming parade down the main street, his skillfully twirled baton and outrageous white suit shining in the sun, Joyce fell head over heels in unrequited love.Years later, after Freddy had left for an acting career, Joyce married Charlie, a kind and reserved man who could hardly be less like Freddy. They married with little fanfare and she bore one son, John. Though she did love Charlie, Joyce often caught herself thinking about Freddy, buying Hollywood gossip magazines in hopes of catching a glimpse of his face. Meanwhile, she was growing increasingly alarmed about John’s preference for dolls and kitchen sets. She concealed the mounting signs that John was not a “normal” boy, even buying him a coveted doll if he promised to keep it a secret from Charlie.
News of Freddy finally arrived, and it was horrifying: he had killed himself, throwing himself into the sea from a cruise ship. When Joyce goes to pay her respects, Freddy’s mother cryptically alleges that his homosexuality had led to his destruction. That night, Joyce threatens to take away her son’s doll if he doesn’t join the softball team. Convinced she has to protect John from himself, she sets her small family on a narrow path bounded by secrecy and shame, which ultimately leads to unthinkable loss.Today, as her life ebbs away at Chestnut Park, Joyce ponders the terrible choices she made as a mother and wife and doubts that she can be forgiven, or that she deserves to be. Then, a young nursing home volunteer named Timothy appears, so much like her long lost John. Might there be some grace ahead in Joyce’s life after all? Voiced by an unforgettable and heartbreakingly flawed narrator, Natural Order is a masterpiece of empathy, a tender portrayal of the end-of-life remembrances and reconciliations that one might undertake when there is nothing more to lose, and no time to waste.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: The Waiting Tree is a young adult novel by Lindsay Moynihan that tells the story of Simon Peters and his mute twin brother Jude. When Simon and his boyfriend Stephen are outed to their church community by Stephen’s father, and Stephen is sent away to a religious treatment centre, Simon not only has to deal with being ostracized by his community, but also with dealing with the recent death of his parents, living with his two older brothers, grappling with his faith and sexuality, and supporting his twin when it seems no one else will. Moynihan initially wrote the book out of frustration and anger about her own faith’s persecution of its LGBTQ members. A later article by Moynihan details her experience representing a Methodist church at a pride event in Orlando working on repairing their relationship with LGBTQ worshippers. While recognizing that the church had a long way to go to rebuild the trust between them and the LGBTQ community, the experience gave her hope that she did not have when she wrote The Waiting Tree.
The Waiting Tree is about more than Simon and Stephen’s relationship – though they are the axis on which the story turns. It is also about what happens when we feel like we’re stuck in life, and when every way out of our situation seems insurmountable. It’s also about feeling like we don’t belong, and how we can begin to reject our true selves in order to fit in. In reading reviews of The Waiting Tree, I discovered that it is full of biblical allusions that weave into the story, not the least of which is the naming of Simon’s brother Jude after St. Jude, the patron saint of hopeless cases. While the novel can be somewhat bleak, it does have a thread of hope in it for Simon – while we don’t know what his future holds, we do know that he begins to find the inner strength to move forward and not only accept, but embrace his true self.
Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: Sherrill told you about an item of adult fiction and Erin told you about some Young Adult fiction, I’m going to tell you about the 2008 film Milk available at the library on DVD. In 1972, Harvey Milk left New York for San Francisco determined to accomplish something meaningful in his life. Settling in the Castro District, he opens a camera shop and helps transform the area into a mecca for gays and lesbians. In 1977, after many failed attempts, he becomes the nation’s first openly gay man elected to a notable public office. The film won two academy awards including a best actor Oscar for Sean Penn who played Harvey Milk.
Hearing other people’s stories helps generate empathy and understanding, and the resources found in this pamphlet contain valuable information and tell good stories. You can pick up our LGBTQ resource pamphlet at any branch of the Haliburton County Public Library.
Because new items arrive weekly to our library collection a print pamphlet will soon be out of date, for this reason we are developing this resource more to include an online version that can be more current. As is true for any collection we welcome purchasing suggestions.
That’s it for this week’s episode of Library Moments, thanks for listening here on 100.9 CanoeFM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM May 29th – June 4th, 2016.