Too Gay for America

Petworth LibraryStaff Picks

Too Gay for America

Challenged books featuring same-sex content

Banned Books Week, which occurs every September, is a very important time for people who endorse reading without restrictions.

As our society grapples with the idea of sexuality, same-sex relationships, and Pride+ representation, many authors will continue to write literature that draws challenges from those who would limit others' intellectual freedom. The following books have been challenged by parents, banned in schools, or even burned by religious groups due to same-sex themes.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
The American Library Association has acknowledged this book as a must have for libraries everywhere. When a motherless egg is given to two male penguins at a zoo, what ensues is love, happiness and joy for the arrival of baby Tango. This title symbolizes much needed representation of same-sex families in children's literature. Due to its progressive storyline, And Tango Makes Three has become one of the most contested books spanning close to 15 years and counting. 

This Day in June by Gayle Pittman
This Day in June is a picture book that illustrates a Pride Parade during the month of June. In this piece, Pittman communicates respect, acceptance, and greater understanding of same sex couples and the LGBTQIA community. As literature geared to young people, this title most recently appeared in the American Library Association Top 10 of frequently challenged books for 2018. 

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Nancy Garden writes the story of Liza Winthrop and Annie Kenyon who first meet at an art museum. The two young woman are both seventeen years old and discover a great friendship in each other before advancing to romance. Although some parental groups have challenged this book on the premise of promoting teenage homosexuality, Garden has been praised for creating a positive young adult story with focus on a healthy lesbian relationship. 

A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss
This children's book both explores and aligns with a progressive stance on same sex marriage. Although the topic is serious in nature, Twiss makes it accessible for young people by using progressive leaning characters who band together and vote against the Stink Bug, the antagonist creature who believes that "Boy Bunnies Don't Marry Boy Bunnies!" 

Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah Brannen
A sure fire way for authors to have their material challenged is to write literature featuring homosexual themes geared to young readers. Sarah Brannen does just that with Uncle Bobby's Wedding and the marrying of male guinea pigs Bobby and Jamie. The storyline itself is very innocent in tone as Chloe, the niece of Bobby, becomes worried that uncle will spend less time with her as he prepares to marry his partner, Jaime. The celebration of a non-traditional union is the focal point of Uncle Bobby's Wedding as with And Tango Makes Three.

Rainbow Boys by Alex Sachez
Jason Carrillois is the envy of most boys at his high school being a star athlete with a pretty girlfriend. However, this is a surface level façade as he is attracted to other young men but desires to remain closeted. Kyle is a young man at school who does not want anyone to know he's gay, but secretly likes Jason. Nelson is openly gay but feels hesitant to reveal to Kyle that he's attracted to him.  Sanchez writes a story featuring a love triangle among boys, first love, and grappling with being both gay and teen amid hostile environments. 

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Two Boys Kissing  holds the distinct title of being one of the most challenged books over the last five years. This book also holds the distinct title of being burned by a religious group due to its title, subject matter, and the cover itself. The author explores a hate crime against a gay teen and tells the story of two young men who also identify as gay, Craig and Henry. They are both high school students, a former couple, and advocates for gay and lesbian students. In an effort to show solidarity toward their victimized friend, Craig and Henry, among other gay teens, participate in a protest at school that involves kissing each other to illustrate a united front in their community.