Most American public libraries celebrate Banned Book Week to combat censorship. Controversial books and comics are displayed to promote freedom of expression while exploring uncomfortable topics.
However, one group of pastors from Maine aren’t having any of nonsense — at least when it comes to lesbians.
Kabi Nagata’s autobiographical My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness explores Nagata’s struggle with mental illness, her sexuality, and challenging Japan’s conservative view of lesbians. It’s an award-winning manga that has been praised for Nagata’s openness and challenging that lesbians are perverted hooligans.
However, three influential pastors are demanding that the Rumford Public Library remove My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness since it’s “not appropriate for a public library.”
They believe that the manga is “risque and immodest” and that no work should subject children to early sexualization. But, more importantly, the manga is evil since it “promotes far-left political views that sees homosexuality as acceptable.” In the most tone-deaf assertation, they argue that My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is “insensitive” to Christian and Muslim beliefs.
The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) countered their argument, saying that “as public institutions, libraries are obligated not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or sexual orientation.”
Justin Thacker, one of the pastors, issued a non-apology, claiming “I did not want to alienate the gay community.” He said that the letter was only for the library’s Board of Trustees and that it’s “unfortunate” that the letter was made public.
After a 105 minute public discussion, which featured teachers and community leaders, the library decided to keep My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness on display. The library’s Board of Trustees concluded that “by moving that display, it would be a form of censorship that we cannot do, under any circumstance.”
Thacker – with no sense of self-awareness – quipped, “None of us that signed that are interested in banning or destroying any books. I don’t know how that rumor got started.”