Freedom to Read About Gay and Lesbian Topics? Maybe Not

by Cynthia Andrews, Beavercreek United Church of Christ, Beavercreek, OR
books freedom to readIn September, many libraries across the nation and our state organize and promote Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read. These celebrations promote the freedom to choose to read whatever the reader might want and the freedom of a writer to express personal opinion, even if that opinion might be unorthodox or unpopular. The events also stress the importance of ensuring the availability of those topics and viewpoints to all who wish to read them. An additional aspect of the week highlights books that have been challenged or banned in a variety of library settings, especially public and academic (school) libraries at all levels.

In general, our First Amendment Rights (free speech and free press) are well served by our libraries that are dedicated to those rights and provide information across a broad spectrum of human interests. However, the right to read about LGBT topics is persistently under threat by individuals and groups who would limit what all of us can read about these subjects. Books with LGBT themes are banned or challenged each year in libraries across the country.

Comics and Sci-Fi Do More Than Entertain

by Salome Chimuku, Ainsworth United Church of Christ, Portland, OR
Superman protestorsAs we come into the fall season, people stay in, watch their favorite shows and movies, or curl up with a good book. Well, for some of us, including me, that book may be a comic book. The world of fiction, sci-fi, and superheroes has played a role in almost everyone’s life. We can all remember a time we woke up on Saturday morning and watched or listened to the adventures of some hero battling the forces of evil. These heroes did more than just entertain–they sometimes fought the evils found in our everyday lives.

“It was a big deal for an African-American woman to portray an officer on television,” said famous actor Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on “Star Trek.” Often we find these fictitious universes and worlds to be more advanced from a social justice perspective than current society. It would be another 20 years before a woman of color could hold such a high-ranking position as Lieutenant. Imagination often pushes reality. Bold futures start in someone’s imagination and dreams.