Naming & Shaming Prejudice

Now – rightfully – gone

The Margaret Court Arena was meant to be a monument to sporting greatness.
Margaret Court has turned it into a monument to homophobia.

Should we rename the Margaret Court Arena because she has shown herself to be a homophobe? There are precedents, here and abroad, for repudiating old prejudices by renaming public structures.

UK

The UK city of Bristol, built on the slave trade, is full of streets and buildings named for slave traders and slave-owning tobacco barons. The owners renamed the city’s famous Colston Hall in 2020, saying they did not ‘want an association’ with slave trader Edward Colston.

By Alan Burke, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13601911

pic: Wikipedia

USA

Yale University, along with many other US institutions, is renaming buildings commemorating slavery advocates.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eprater/4122131031/in/photolist-f7EzS-69FD5W-7hfZWF-71mvVL-MoTgv

Calhoun College, Yale,  will be renamed in honor of Grace Murray Hopper, a trailblazing computer scientist who also served as a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy

AUSTRALIA

Here in Australia a sports stand in Toowoomba was renamed, not because the person it honoured was a racist, but because his common nickname most certainly was: Nigger Brown.

http://www.kooriweb.org/foley/essays/tracker/tracker10.html

pic: KooriWeb

Melbourne Universities are likewise renaming buildings commemorating distinguished racist, homophobic professors, who argued for the segregation and sterilisation of LGBTI and blacks.

ERASING HISTORY?

Accusations of ‘erasing history’ have been answered everywhere by the erection of plaques explaining the change, and the retention of statues or portraits of those previously honoured. This could easily be done at the Tennis Centre: Courts bust is already there.

None of these changes have been quick or easy or free from controversy: it’s a long and ongoing battle to get Australia to agree that it is no longer appropriate to honour and celebrate racism. It’s inappropriate to honour and celebrate homophobia, too.

Just as buildings named for racists (no matter how eminent) show a lack of respect for non-whites, buildings named for homophobes show disrespect for LGBTI people and shore up our continuing second-class status.

For the sake of inclusion, equality and harmony, Margaret Courts name must come down.

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About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. And now he's been nominated for LGBTI Journalist of the Year 2017, which is great news, as he hasn't won any of these things for years! If you want to nominate him too - the more the merrier - you can do it here http://www.australianlgbtiawards.com.au/public-nominations.html "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)