Apparently this awesome book I read is "child pornography"

[Trigger warning for homo/queerphobia, transphobia, and self-harm]

Well, of course it's not, but whatever. It's still banned in Burlington County, New Jersey, and in Texas.

Like I said, Revolutionary Voices: A multicultural queer youth anthology is a pretty cool book. Here's how editor Amy Sonnie describes it in the front material:
"As youth who have 'grown up' during the '80s and '90s, we are the product of a unique historic moment in which queer youth are increasingly visible and coming out at younger and younger ages. These days many of us have greater access to community and support. From gay-straight alliances to LGBT centers, from media visibility to the Internet, queer youth are finding and creating community all over the globe. Increased visibility, however, also means an increase in the attacks against us. And with youth coming out in larger numbers and from more disparate communities, it is all the more urgent that we talk about how our identities as young queers intersect with our cultural, racial, and economic backgrounds."
I ran across this book last winter, when I was browsing at a local bookstore. I snapped up the last copy, which was being remaindered. I strongly suspect that the main reason the bookstore was carrying it was that the book grew out of a project at Syracuse University, which is just up the street. This is really a shame, because I wish more, not less, people had access to this collection.

The book quickly became my winter companion. It's a small paperback comprised of around 70 poems, short stories, and works of art. As such, it's great for reading while riding a train with a fussy toddler on your lap, while waiting at the doctor's office, or really any other time you might have two or three minutes to get a quick fix of inspiring thought from young queer people.

But of course, this is precisely the problem.

As has been discussed in this place previously, some folks have *ahem* issues with queer people. Folks like Glenn Beck and Lisa Harvey, founder of [TW: homo/queerphobia] Mission:America.

Mission:America is opposed to "dangerous" groups like PFLAG, because they recommended books like Revolutionary Voices, which in turn encourage "bisexuality, fluid sexuality and sexual experimentation," "coming out" (which Harvey puts in quotes) and other self-evidentially bad things.

Here's one of the passages that [TW: homo/trans/queerphobia] Harvey singles out from Revolutionary Voices as problematic:
"I first began to come out when I was 11. In terms of my family, I was fortunate because my parents have always been accepting of my sexual identity....So at the age of 12 I came out to my entire elementary school, which included grades K-8...I was in sixth grade and attending a Catholic school in San Francisco when I came out to a small group of people...During this time I started attending LYRIC, the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center, a wonderful program and hang-out space for LGBT youth in San Francisco....The next year I was in seventh grade..."
Apparently this is dangerous writing, because it might lead one to turn out like Gina de Vries, author of that passage, or like Alix Olson, whose work is also included in the anthology.

Interestingly enough, Harvey quoted about a quarter of de Vries' essay. The parts Harvey omitted primarily deal with two subjects: being bullied, and de Vries' feeling happy with being honest with the world about who she is. This is not a coincidence.

When I came out in my mid-20s (and around a decade after de Vries' coming out in the 90s), I was terrified. I was filled with fear, self-hatred, and emptiness. This goes a long way towards explaining the times I tried to take my own life. You know what helped me finally come out and feel better about myself? Books like Revolutionary Voices (actually, it was this one). That book, along with things like Lynn Conway and Andrea James' websites and GenderTalk saved my life. In that they stopped me from killing myself.

It's also not a coincidence that a lot of the contributors to Revolutionary Voices discuss racism, sexism, religious bigotry and problematic aspects of capitalism. These are precisely the sort of things that Glenn Beck, Mission:America, and their followers want suppressed.

This brings me back to porn, which coincidentally, I was e-mailing folks about yesterday (believe it or not, that's not an every day occurrence for me). So, there's no porn in Revolutionary Voices. There's no smut, either, or whatever word you choose to describe erotic literature.

In conjunction with yesterday's thread on The View, it never ceases to amaze me how some folks talk about queer people (or at least lesbians) by completely erasing sexuality, while other folks talk about queer people by erasing everything but sexuality, even when the sexuality isn't explicitly present. In either case, the message is that something's wrong with us, because we're not like normal (straight) people, who, you know, manage to be people and in many cases also have sex.

This is also one of those occasions where accusations of porn! really do serve as a way of silencing folks with identities, politics, and habits that the kyriarchy finds objectionable. This instance of book banning isn't about porn at all; it's about keeping queer youth from being happy and fulfilled, it's about withholding knowledge that could improve, and yes, save, lives. Of course, very few people are going to ban a book on those grounds. Thus, queer becomes porn. How horribly convenient.

If this isn't terrorism, I don't know what is.

Via Miriam and Jim.

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