I should be cleaning up the house in anticipation of PJ’s arrival back home tomorrow, but I just came from a department meeting that’s left me really depressed. While writing about it on my blog is probably not the best idea, I need an outlet for what I’m feeling and thinking; otherwise, I’m just going to sit here and stew until I make myself a martini.

Here’s the thing: I actually don’t think my colleagues are homophobic in any sort of intentional or active way, but I think they might very well be intellectually homophobic, by which I mean prejudiced against queer work and teaching.

English departments are supposed to be so progressive and liberal. At least that’s what we’re told all the time. Right? We’re a bunch of lefties. In my experience here this is only true in the sense that my department and university doesn’t actively discriminate against GLBT people. But they don’t acknowledge our importance or value our presence either. Too often “liberal” just means ignoring difference, whether it be sexual, gender, racial, religious, etc. And ignoring difference causes problems.

First off, this meeting convinces me that my colleagues are simply blind to the relatively large number of GLBT students we have in our undergraduate major and graduate programs. It really makes me wonder how our students experience our classes. No wonder they’re so hungry for my Lesbian & Gay Lit course — it might very well be the only time they have a class that acknowledges sexual difference in any meaningful way. I often hear that it’s definitely one of the very few classes that actually values sexual difference (which is why I feel so guilty about taking a break from teaching it next year).

Second, while my department at least pays real lip service to racial difference, we’re terrible when it comes to GLBT issues. For example, as we discussed hiring priorities today, it seemed perfectly acceptable to everyone that we could combine a position in 20th-Century British Literature with Post-Colonial Theory, since, and I’m almost quoting here, almost anyone working the 20thC could be assumed to also work in Post-Colonial Theory and Literatures. My colleagues can’t image a good candidate in 20thC British Lit who didn’t also work, to some degree, in P-C Theory.

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