Support queer stories and storytellers and resist the silencing of LGBTQIA+ voices
This Pride Month, we are centering queer joy as resistance in the face of increasing calls for censorship and policing of queer existence. While we celebrate bravery, self-expression, and community, we are aware that we are living through a time of growing attacks on LGBTQIA+ people. Right now, in the U.S., there are 491 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills in play, including bills that ban gender-affirming health care, weaken non-discrimination laws, and restrict speech and expression.
In the last few years, a number of groups have led efforts to silence LGBTQIA+ voices, including agitating for book bans. According to a recent study from PEN America on censorship trends, 41 percent of books banned last year explicitly address LGBTQ+ themes or have protagonists or prominent secondary characters who are LGBTQ+. In April, when the American Library Association unveiled its top 10 list of most challenged books in 2022, it revealed that the majority were either written by or about LGBTQIA+ people.
The seven titles that received the most challenges or complaints of including LGBTQIA+ content, are: “Gender Queer,” by Maia Kobabe, “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson, “Flamer,” by Mike Curato, “Looking for Alaska,” by John Green, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky, "Lawn Boy,” by Jonathan Evison, and “This Book is Gay,” by Juno Dawson.
At Oxfam, we believe that LGBTQIA+ rights are human rights. LGBTQIA+ writing is essential, not just for those in the community, but for all of us to expand our understanding of the human experience. We will continue to advocate for a world where the LGBTQIA community can live free of discrimination, violence, and censor. We encourage you to read and to question what’s motivating these movements to ban books.
Celebrate Pride by supporting LGBTQIA+ voices, learning about historical resistance, and broadening your understanding of queer lived experiences. This month, pick up one of the censored books mentioned above or one of the following recommendations curated by Oxfam staff, friends, and loved ones.
“All the Things They Said We Couldn't Have: Stories of Trans Joy,” Tash Oakes-Monger
“Giovanni’s Room,” James Baldwin
“Less,” Andrew Sean Greer
“Maurice,” E.M. Forster
“Memorial,” Bryan Washington
“Patsy, Nicole Dennis-Benn
“The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde,” Audre Lorde
“The House of Impossible Beauties,” Joseph Cassara
“The Color Purple,” Alice Walker
“Uranians,” Theodore McCombs
“Belly of the Beast: the Politics of Anti-fatness as Anti-Blackness," Da’shaun L. Harrison
“FINE,” Rhea Ewing
“Fun Home,” Alison Bechdel
“Hijab Butch Blues: A Memoir,” Lamya H
“Hola Papi,” John Paul Brammer
“How Far the Light Reaches,” Sabrina Imbler
“The Stonewall Reader,” ed. Jason Baumann
“The Women’s House of Detention,” Hugh Ryan
“Wow, No Thanks,” Samantha Irby
“You Gotta Be You: How to Embrace This Messy Life and Step into Who You Really Are,” Brandon Kyle Goodman
“All That’s Left in the World,” Eric J. Brown
“Black Flamingo,” Dean Atta
“Felix Ever After,” Kacen Callender
“Henna Wars,” Adiba Jaigirdar
“Like a Love Story,” Abdi Nazemian
“Loveless,” Alice Oseman
“On a Sunbeam,” Tillie Walden
“The Magic Fish,” Trung Le Nguyen
“The Prince and the Dressmaker,” Jen Wang
“You Should See Me in a Crown,” Leah Johnson