This article was published on January 10th, 2023
Book bans are nothing new, and they continue to happen to this day. They have been around since the Middle Ages. Often the books in question are deemed obscene, violent, sexual, and other related descriptors. Depending on the work in question, this often comes from a place of moralistic righteousness. The Giver by Lois Lowry is a notable ban, due to its complex themes of individuality, sexuality, and other tough-to-swallow themes. 1984 by George Orwell has been banned for rather contradictory reasons, often stated as having pro-communist themes and obscenities, despite Orwell being known as a democratic-socialist.
Book banning is the most widespread form of censorship in the United States. Unfortunately, these book bans impact the LGBTQ+ community in heavy ways. Queer media is often put on the banned shelf and deemed inappropriate. It was reported that more than 1,600 books about gender and race were banned in more than 130 districts between 2021 and 2022… A common phrase we’re all familiar with is ‘think of the children’, when many of those same children begin questioning their identity at very young ages. This is still going to happen, even if their access to queer literature is cut off. But having these books available can help young members of the LGBTQ community find themselves. Realizing you’re not alone or even having a character in a fictional series who’s queer like you can provide comfort. Many are alone in their journey of self-discovery, and queer literature is the key to helping them know they’re not in it alone.
This is a common conservative movement that’s been prevalent for far too long. Identifying as queer to any degree will sometimes get one mislabeled as a predator, sexual deviant, etc. Gender identity is often seen as “a sexual thing,” and far too many assumptions are made about others. This rhetoric is incredibly harmful to the community. Banning our books only furthers this conception that the work is “wrong.” The country’s puritanical ideas have yet to loosen their grip on the country, and it is affecting so many of its citizens.
Queer literature harms no one. It simply provides a different story from what we’re used to. Many are bored with seeing the same M/F relationships in any form of media, whether it’s romance or action, where somehow the good guy always gets to kiss the girl at the end. However, if instead he kisses another male, it’s over and we’re done; call the news. Outside of fiction, it’s often just someone telling their story. The queer life experience is different for everyone, and far from the norm. Memoirs are there to share that with anyone who wants to understand. Whether they are questioning their own identity or they’re an ally interested in learning more about queer culture and backgrounds.
If there’s to be an argument that younger people should figure themselves out on their own without an outside influence to groom them to be a certain way, is banning books and restricting their access to education and knowledge not causing an outside influence? Does this not allow them to grow up with the idea that if books are banned, their ideas must be wrong? If letting people figure things out for themselves is the issue, then perhaps letting them read whatever they may find on their own is the best course of action. The hypocrisy is loud.
Censorship will not prevent LGBTQ works from being published. The LGBTQ community is far more resourceful than we’re given credit for. To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park, “Life, uh, finds a way.” This community is no exception. There are blogs, zines, independent publishers, crowdfunding, and multiple networks available to help get resources to those that need them. Conservatives can try to ban our books, but it won’t stop anyone.