Culture & Entertainment

Reading for progress

By: Jill Buchner
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

Reading for progress

By: Jill Buchner
Books Have you ever thought about how what you read influences your awareness and understanding of people around you? Books can help us comprehend the world from another person’s perspective, and can therefore open our minds to new ideas. That’s something the people at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies at University of Toronto realized. On April 24, their Power of the Word Gala will recognize writers Edmund White, Patricia Nell-Warren and Shyam Selvadurai for opening people’s minds about sexuality. The awards were initiated to recognize Canadians’ growth on issues surrounding sexual diversity and the individuals who were making significant contributions to that growth. I spoke to Mark S. Bonham about Canadians’ progress in understanding sexual diversity. How have you seen Canadians' awareness and understanding for sexuality change in the past several years?  We often take for granted the significant advances that have been made to date, without realizing that they have come about as a result of a lot of people’s work over a long time and realizing that there are still some things to be accomplished.  Canadians are justifiably aware of and proud of their understanding and tolerance for sexuality.  Nevertheless, they are also acutely aware that more needs to be done. What kind of an impact can writers make in furthering the public's understanding of sexual diversity?  By being somewhat distant from the reader, a writer has a unique ability to educate and inform the general population about issues around sexuality.  Of course, writing is a means of educating, and can be accomplished across a broad swath of the population at relatively low cost.  The authors we are recognizing have been very successful at gaining popularity, and so have a unique ability to impart knowledge and influence people on the issues of sexuality. How would you like to see Canadians' understanding of sexual diversity grow in the future?  Continued education and teaching around the subject! They always say that the pen is mightier than the sword, and there is good reason for this. Education imparts knowledge and information, and the more informed we are about a person or an issue, the better we, as a society, are at being tolerant, accepting, and inclusive.
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Reading for progress

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