2,571 book titles were challenged last year, the majority being by or about LGBTQ+ people and people of color. That’s a rise of 700 challenges from the prior year. Unfortunately, the Right is not slowing down anytime soon.
In the latest development, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana has gone viral by reading out explicit gay sex scenes from two of the nations’ most challenged books: George M. Johnson's All Boys Aren’t Blue and Maia Kobabe's Gender Queer.
The absurd and disgusting exchange took place at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday called “Book Bans: Examining How Censorship LImits Liberty and Literature.” There, Kennedy read aloud passages from books he wants to ban.
After saying that he was “confused” by the “conceptual” or “metaphysical” arguments for allowing the books, Kennedy decided to do a live reading.
“Let’s take two books that have been much discussed. The first one is called All Boys Aren’t Blue. And I will quote from it. ‘I put some lube on and got him on his knees. And I began to slide into him from behind. I pulled out of him and kissed him while he masturbated,” Kennedy read with the dead eyes of a doll. “He asked me to turn over while he slipped a condom on himself. This was my ass, and I was struggling to imagine someone inside me. He got on top and slowly inserted himself into me. It was the worst pain I think I have ever felt in my life. Eventually, I felt a mix of pleasure with the pain.’”
He then read a quote from Gender Queer, another of the most challenged books.
“‘I got a new strap on. Strap on harness today. I can’t wait to put it on you. It will fit my favorite dildo perfectly. You’re going to look so hot. I can’t wait to have your cock in my mouth. I’m going to give you the blowjob of your life. Then I want you inside of me,’” the conservative senator said. “End quote. Now, Mr. Secretary, what are you asking us to do? Are you suggesting that only librarians should decide whether the two books that I just referenced should be available to kids? Is that what you’re saying?”
Thankfully, Illinois's Democratic Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said what we were all thinking. “With all due respect, Senator, the words you spoke are disturbing,” he said. “Especially coming out of your mouth is very disturbing.”
From there, the conversation devolved even more, with Kennedy shutting down answers from both Giannoulias and Mx. Cameron Samuels, an anti-censorship activist. Kennedy, of course, had trouble with Samuels’ “Mx.” prefix.
Samuels pointed out that the scene Kennedy read from All Boys Aren’t Blue isn’t meant to be erotic, it’s describing sexual assault. “Students who do not read books like All Boys Aren’t Blue cannot learn what is appropriate,” Samuels argued. “They cannot learn about abuse.”
Book banning doesn’t just hurt young people who aren’t able to learn more about the world and the people in it. It also clearly hurts everyone who has to listen to Republicans read about gay sex.