Banned Books Week Redux: Revolutionary Voices

I just got this book through interlibrary loan! Not sure why my library didn’t own it; hopefully because it’s 12 years old and put out by a smaller publisher.

Title: Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology
Editor: Amy Sonnie
Challenged In: Burlington County, New Jersey public libraries; Mount Holly, New Jersey High School
By: the 9/12 Project
For: being “pervasively vulgar, obscene, and inappropriate”

I had to look up what the 9/12 Project was, because apparently they were challenging books all over the place. The ALA’s write-up of this challenge said that they are “a nationwide government watchdog network launched by the talk-radio and television personality Glenn Beck” and their website says their aim is to bring communities “back to the place we were on 9/12/2001”. I assume because they too just want to go back to a simpler time when N*SYNC was still putting out albums. I don’t know what that has to do with excising all positive information about queer youth, especially since this book was published in 2000–guys, it totally would have already been on those shelves on 9/12/2001! Especially since that was the year it was recognized by School Library Journal. Historical recreation fail, 9/12 Project. I am disappoint.

Revolutionary Voices is an anthology of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and art submitted by queer youth aged 14-26 from around the world. The authors come from all different backgrounds and cultures, and their contributions don’t necessarily focus solely on sexual identity, but also on other problems or issues in their lives. Each author or artist also gets a brief biography page, usually with a picture. The book states many times that it is written and edited “by youth for youth”.

This book was pretty cool, although it felt outdated. Even though it was published in 2000, the editor first began to gather submissions in 1995. A lot of the author biographies mention multiple zines. Do people still remember zines? Does anyone younger than me even know what that is? I think most of the submissions would still resonate with today’s youth, especially since this anthology has such a focus on multiculturalism. Though there are other anthologies about sexual identity that have come after this one, I haven’t seen one with such a focus on writers with different backgrounds. As one of the authors writes in his biography: “For the first time in my life I feel no shame in telling the world I’m Hispanic and gay… Eventually I’d like to start an outreach program to educate Hispanic parents to better understand their gay kids. There are many outreach programs for English-speaking people, but in Texas the majority of Hispanics don’t speak English” (24). I love the concept of this book, and I wish the project had continued. It also made me wonder what a lot of these authors are doing now.

I’m not going to quote anything else because the only “vulgar” and “obscene” parts I could find were about homophobic abuse at the hands of friends, family members, and communities described in some of the submissions. Maybe it’s your hate that’s inappropriate, 9/12 Project. Banned Books Week is important, but it can sometimes leave me feeling drained and sad, so I’m going to cut this post short and go to the park.

Previously: What’s Happening to my Body Book for Boys

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