It goes without saying that David Gilmour’s inept comments for his Hazlitt interview are wholly embarrassing and will probably—hopefully—cost him his instructional position at Victoria College. Spawning a frenzy of reactions across all social media platforms and numerous newspapers locally and globally, David Gilmour unintentionally reminds us all of the necessity to include and embrace the work of writers from all backgrounds into the canon of great literature.
Gilmour’s remarks sadly, are not shocking to me (and evidently, many others), as a woman writer and recent graduate of the University of Toronto. I’ve got enough heterosexual males on my bookshelf to last a lifetime. There’s no doubt in the merit of the works of Chekhov, Fitzgerald or Miller. Yet, Gilmour reveals a reluctance to place himself outside of that which he can immediately relate to. Quite strange considering that the enrollment at the University of Toronto is the host not only to heterosexual males but a richly diverse student body, not limited to but including LGBTQ, Asian, African, South American and Canadian students of both genders. Furthermore, these categories of personhood have been known to actually overlap and intersect! It would be plausible then, for him, to consider the varied backgrounds of the individuals he is teaching to—instead of catering to his own personal favourites—who are nothing like the singular lens of a video camera.
For the literary community, Gilmour’s readiness to expose his smug discrimination to women, Chinese writers, Canadian writers, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t fall into the category of heterosexual (also, white) males can, at least, serve as a wake-up call. Courses and instructors that gives credence to the voices of writers from all backgrounds exposes us to a vast collection of opinions and experiences that enrich students’ ability to analyze and interact with a host of worthwhile perspectives. No consumption of menstrual pads required.
The views Gilmour willingly shared have unleashed a torrent of criticism upon his character and ability as an instructor. It is up, now, to the University of Toronto to react accordingly and assert this globally revered institution’s interest in writers who come from backgrounds beyond David Gilmour’s personal storage; because, believe it or not, it’s not just the literature of heterosexual males that’s really “got something going for it.”