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Lately, in literary censorship:
A theater company in Flowertown, South Carolina is in jeopardy of losing $3,000 in funding after a city councilman voiced disdain over the Flowertown Players’ recent (and wildly successful) production of Jonathan Larson’s Rent:
It was one of the raunchiest things I’d ever seen in my life – and I’m far from being a prude,” Jenkins said at a finance committee meeting earlier this week. “I just thought it was totally inappropriate for a neighborhood community.”
The fight for queer artistic freedom is no stranger to South Carolina. You may remember that College of Charleston came under scrutiny for featuring Allison Bechdel’s Fun Home in curriculum. Despite a collective outcry from CoC students, the newly-minted state educational budget mandates that these institutions use a respective $52,000 and $17,000 in funding “for instruction in the provisions and principles of the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers, including the study of and devotion to American institutions and ideals.”
Because if nothing says, “I don’t want to spend tax dollars on immorality,” it’s spending three times that amount of tax dollars on state-imposed morality.
If you were under the impression that these issues were indigenous to the red states, think again:
A school board in Delaware recently voted 6-1 to remove Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post from Cape Henlopen High School’s optional summer reading list. Like in the instance of Rent, the dissenting board members spoke in general terms about the work of literature’s offensiveness, begging the question of whether or they had actually read the work:
The school board president, Spencer Brittingham , did “some research” and concluded that the book was “not appropriate” for high school freshmen. It’s for more mature students–you know, like “sophomores or juniors.” He perused the book a little and found “four or five” F-bombs.
AfterEllen has an excellent write-up of this case that highlights its double standards and lists the email addresses of the dissenting school board members.
As if this weren’t enough:
The Singapore government has ordered the country’s National Library Board to remove and destroy three LGBT YA books from library shelves, including The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption, Who’s In My Family: All About Our Families, and–perhaps most amusingly–And Tango Makes Three (the true account of two male penguins raising a chick together at New York’s Central Park Zoo). The decision has been met with much criticism in Singapore and virtually. One opponent has drafted a Change.org petition which currently has more than 2,000 signatures.
If you need a pick-me-up after that:
The same week that Delaware’s Cape Henlopen voted on the fate of Cameron Post, gay YA author David Levithan gave an insightful interview to Delaware Online:
It’s never too early to foster kindness and equal treatment, for whatever group. So much of the pain that LGBT kids go through is because they feel distanced from all of the narratives they’ve been given. They’ve been told that everyone grows up a certain way, and now their own way is diverging from that.
The best thing parents can do, whether their kids end up queer or straight, is to acknowledge all of the different options that are out there, and letting their kids know that they support them no matter which options end up being theirs.
The folks at Out Magazine have crafted a thorough timeline of queer sex throughout the ages, beginning with Sappho and ending in present times.
Electronica artist Goldfrapp’s new single sounds reminiscent of Ingénue-era k.d. lang. The music video for “Stranger” is also drenched in Sapphic melancholy. Filmed in black and white, the narrative traces the love and loss shared between two women in a beachside town.
Given that Goldfrapp has called Tales of Us an exploration of “memory, identity, and gender” and has cited Patricia Highsmith as a key influence for the album, this is hopefully just a taste of what’s to come.
Until next week!