Saturday, September 17, 2022

Censoring LGBTQ books is stupid, wrong, and downright evil.


Bookshelf at Books a Million, Rapid City SD

Read any banned books lately? The list of literary works under attack by right wing idiots continues to expand. But the stupid thing is of course that the more that they try to suppress these books, the more people are curious to read them. And people, particularly librarians, are fighting back.

 It all comes at an odd time while we’re allegedly under a Democratic presidential administration. But bitter right-wingers still worshiping their deposed king Trump continue to infiltrate school boards, library staffs and find other ways to suppress literary works, some of them Pulitzer Prize winners.

As NBC News reports, “nationwide, school districts have been bombarded by conservative activists and parents over the past year demanding that books with sexual references or that discuss racial conflict, often by authors of color or those who are LGBTQ, be purged from campuses. Those demands have slowly moved toward public libraries in recent months.  

Many conservative activists have referred to people who defend the books as “groomers,” comparing them to child molesters. The Proud Boys, an extremist hate group, has barged into LGBTQ-themed reading events in several libraries, insisting they need to protect children. Some librarians have said they no longer feel safe serving in their roles.”

Richard Thomas in the stage adaptation of 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Locally, as a touring production of the stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird runs here in San Francisco (presented by BroadwaySF), local librarians and the play’s production team, led by playwright Aaron Sorkin, are working together to get books in the hands of kids, particularly copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most contested literary works of the age (SF Chronicle).

As Reason reports, censoring Mockingbird is an epic fail. "Despite decades of censorship attempts in the public sector, the private sector has met consumer demand for the book. More than 40 million copies have been sold worldwide."

This all relates to the attacks on Critical Race Theory, or, basically, factual accounts of racism in American history. Right-wingers are determined to rewrite history to make it seem like white oppressors were the good guys. Some are so extreme that they're banning books that aren't even on shelves.

Of course LGBTQ titles are under attack.. The Washington Blade reports about a hundred books that have been either disappeared from library shelves or outright band on skin schools in Florida, where the heinous “Don’t Say Gay” ruling now stretches to “Don’t Read Gay either.”

“The measures, described as a “compromise,” happened after the district’s legal representative talked with the Florida Citizens Alliance, a conservative group which initiated a “Porn in Schools Report” project last year. The report included a list of books that “promote gender self-identification and same-sex marriage” as well as titles that include “indecent and offensive material,” as the group explained “

As Mombian, Sustenance for Lesbian Moms astutely wrote, “Providing books and media that depict LGBTQ families and identities (and those of other marginalized identities) in positive ways is not inappropriate; it is
necessary. All children benefit greatly from seeing positive representations of families like theirs and people like them—as well as seeing people like others in their communities and the wider world. Labeling these depictions as “unsuitable” tells these children that they and their families are likewise unsuitable. It also implies that any mentions of LGBTQ families or identities outside of books—say, when a child talks about their own family or gender—are likewise unsuitable and should be silenced.”


In its most extreme, authors are also getting violently attacked, as the August stabbing of Salman Rushdie proved. The author had long been under a fatwah by extremist Islamic leaders, and in August was repeatedly stabbed by a crazed man onstage at a book conference.

The website Banned Books Week keeps track of censorship efforts and counters it by celebrating "controversial" books. The Advocate reports on the high number of LGBT titles under siege.


Of course, some prominent authors somewhat benefit from being banned, by turning negative responses into good publicity. George M. Johnson's Black queer memoir, "All Boys Aren't Blue," is soon to become adapted as a TV series, so there's plenty of notoriety for his acclaimed work. Johnson was interviewed on ABC News. Read Johnson's expansive interview in Glitter Guide.


Personally, I've never been attacked, other than by a few nutbags on And I have yet to have any of my books banned. I'd once joked that people should send copies of my debut novel PINS to their local archdiocese to see if it could get banned just for publicity purposes. The novel is a loose allegory of the Saint Sebastian story (or myth, if you don't believe in it), which could get some Catholics up riled up because of the heretical interpretation.

But the more common instance for smaller books like mine are simply being ignored, not censored.  While the chief tactic of some right-wingers is to simply take out books that they find offensive and never return them, in my case, particularly with the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library, multiple copies of PINS just went missing or were stolen. I like to think that they were just obsessive fans, but who can say.

One very smart effort to counter oppression of literary works is libraries are offering free copies online to students who simply check a QR code (Readers Digest). 


"Librarians are fighting back against book challenges by showing up every day and simply doing their jobs,: said Peter Bromberg, associate director of political action committee EveryLibrary, in the Readers Digest article. “It’s not flashy, but school librarians and library directors across the country are doing the important work of talking to their community, helping their boards understand the mission of the library, the importance of following policy and defending the First Amendment rights of all community members and all students.” 


The freedom to read what people and especially students choose has never been more under attack since Nazis actually burn piles of books. Of course that's probably next on the agenda for MAGAcidal idiots.

Anyway, support your local libraries and bookstores who are showcasing banned books and helping them find audiences despite attacks on the freedom to read.

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