Vancouver Public Library shows its Pride

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      The Vancouver Public Library has always been a bastion of free thinking, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that it became a source of Pride this weekend.

      As I strolled through the atrium at the central branch, there were people at several tables offering information about issues that don't always get covered in the mainstream media.

      The Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence—an order of 21st-century queer nuns—were there to discuss the good work they do to help people with HIV.

      Charlie Smith

      They incorporated the Abbey of the Long Cedar Canoe Society as a registered charity and are visible at events across the region, offering help to alleviate homelessness.

      As one would expect in a library setting, LGTB-themed books were also on display along the "Pride Promenade".

      Charlie Smith

      In addition, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents library workers, was giving away Pride bracelets, as well as brochures on the Out in Schools program and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.

      Charlie Smith

      One of the most intriguing tables featured extensive information on the harmful effects of circumcision on lesbians and gay men.

      One of the pamphlets highlighted Brit Shalom, which is a "noncutting, nonviolent naming ceremony for Jewish boys".

      "It may be performed by a Rabbi or an experienced lay leader," the brochure states. "If desired, providers can aid parents in devising their own ceremony. It is similar to the naming ceremony for girls."

      Charlie Smith

      Another pamphlet attributed circumcision to a "Father Knows Best" mentality "that treats children like chattel and implies that men are too stupid or lazy to practice good hygiene or responsible sex".

      These excuses, it adds, "reveal anti-sexual attitudes at odds with the goals of gay liberation".

      This year, the Vancouver Pride Society refused to allow the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project's Glen Callender to march in today's parade.

      Callender was informed that it's because he violated parade rules against nudity last year.

      But even though Callender's organization, Foreskin Pride, will be absent from the annual march, it's clear from the display at the library that this issue still resonates within the LGBT community.