Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Banned LGBT Books (Part I)


Last week was Banned Books Week, which was first observed in 1982 "in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries," notes BannedBooksWeek.org.

In the last 30 years over 11,300 books have been challenged for everything from having what some deem too much sexual content to featuring "offensive language" and often titles that have LGBT themes or plots are targeted, too. This year's most challenged books include classics like Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" and Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mocking Bird," as well as newer titles like Suzanne Collins's "The Hunger Games" trilogy.

To celebrate the freedom to read I want to take a look at 16 books (eight today and eight tomorrow) that have been challenged for their LGBT content. Have a look below and tell me what your favorite LGBT book is in the comments section.

And Tango Makes Three

Roy and Silo were "a little bit different" from the other male penguins: instead of noticing females, they noticed each other. Thus penguin chick Tango, hatched from a fertilized egg given to the pining, bewildered pair, came to be "the only penguin in the Central Park Zoo with two daddies." As told by Richardson and Parnell (a psychiatrist and playwright), this true story remains firmly within the bounds of the zoo's polar environment.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Since its publication, stephen chbosky’s haunting debut novel has received critical acclaim, provoked discussion and debate, grown into a cult phenomenon with over a million copies in print, and inspired a major motion picture. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and the rocky horror picture show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

Running with Scissors: A Memoir

Running with Scissors is the true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor’s bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed. The story of an outlaw childhood where rules were unheard of, and the Christmas tree stayed up all year round, where Valium was consumed like candy, and if things got dull an electroshock- therapy machine could provide entertainment. The funny, harrowing and bestselling account of an ordinary boy’s survival under the most extraordinary circumstances.

Daddy's Roommate (Alyson Wonderland)

This story's narrator begins with his parent's divorce and continues with the arrival of "someone new at Daddy's house." The new arrival is male. This new concept is explained to the child as "just one more kind of love." The text is suitably straightforward, and the format--single lines of copy beneath full-page illustrations--easily accessible to the intended audience.

Heather Has Two Mommies: 10th Anniversary Edition

Originally self-published in 1989, Heather Has Two Mommies became the first title in Alyson's newly formed Alyson Wonderland imprint in 1990. The simple and straightforward story of a little girl named Heather and her two lesbian mothers was created by Newman and illustrator Diana Souza because children's books that reflected a nontraditional family did not exist, but a firestorm of controversy soon ensued. Attacked by the religious right, lambasted by Jesse Helms from the floor of the U.S Senate, and stolen from library shelves, it was an uphill battle for Heather. Thanks to the overwhelming support of booksellers, librarians, parents, and children, however, Heather Has Two Mommies has sold over 35,000 copies, launched a minor industry in providing books for the children of gay and lesbian parents and, as attested to by a recent New Yorker cartoon, become part of the cultural lexicon.

Maurice: A Novel

Set in the elegant Edwardian world of Cambridge undergraduate life, this story by a master novelist introduces us to Maurice Hall when he is fourteen. We follow him through public school and Cambridge, and on into his father's firm, Hill and Hall, Stock Brokers. In a highly structured society, Maurice is a conventional young man in almost every way, "stepping into the niche that England had prepared for him": except that his is homosexual. Written during 1913 and 1914, immediately after Howards End, and not published until 1971, Maurice was ahead of its time in its theme and in its affirmation that love between men can be happy. "Happiness," Forster wrote, "is its keynote. In Maurice I tried to create a character who was completely unlike myself or what I supposed myself to be: someone handsome, healthy, bodily attractive, mentally torpid, not a bad businessman and rather a snob. Into this mixture I dropped an ingredient that puzzles him, wakes him up, torments him and finally saves him."

Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass (1855) is a poetry collection by the American poet Walt Whitman. Among the poems in the collection are "Song of Myself," "I Sing the Body Electric," and in later editions, Whitman's elegy to the assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd." Whitman spent his entire life writing Leaves of Grass, revising it in several editions until his death. Leaves of Grass has its genesis in an essay called The Poet by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published in 1845, which expressed the need for the United States to have its own new and unique poet to write about the new country's virtues and vices. Whitman, reading the essay, consciously set out to answer Emerson's call as he began work on the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman, however, downplayed Emerson's influence, stating, "I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil".

Annie on My Mind

This groundbreaking book, first published in 1982, is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, "Nancy Garden has the distinction of being the first author for young adults to create a lesbian love story with a positive ending. Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves." The 25th Anniversary Edition features a full-length interview with the author by Kathleen T. Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center. Ms. Garden answers such revealing questions as how she knew she was gay, why she wrote the book, censorship, and the book's impact on readers - then and now.

4 comments:

BrightenedBoy said...

Psh. If I ever wind up published they'll probably try to ban me in half the country (unless you think gay, 15-year-old protagonist would go over well in Mississippi and Alabama).

It's amazing the degree to which conservatives have attempted to suppress free speech in order to "protect society"--that is, a society built upon free speech.

Half of these guys should have just been born in Nazi Germany.

gaygroom said...

I guess my favourite 'gay' novel would be Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child. Maurice was brilliant as well. Wasn't as enamored with Running with Scissors as most folks.

It is my hope to someday be as widely banned as Judy Blume ;)

Jay M. said...

Guess I've just expanded my "to read" list! I am ashamed to say that I've read none of these! And Daddy's Roommate sounds just about my reading level.

Peace <3
Jay

Becky said...

Luana Reach Torres has come out with a new gay novel titled, "I Heard the Pastor's Daughter Is Gay." I really love this author. Here is the link in case you are interested.

http://www.luanareachtorres.com/