Books with gay protagonists?
December 2, 2004 8:07 AM   Subscribe

ProposedAlabamaBookBanFilter -- As mentioned in the Blue, there is a piece of legislation proposed by Alabama State Representative, Gerald Allen, that seeks to ban "novels with gay protagonists and college textbooks that suggest homosexuality is natural" from publically-funded schools and libraries. If Mr. Allen's bill survives committee and passes, I cringe to consider just which literary classics would disappear from the shelves of Alabama libraries. Which, if any, of your favorites will become suddenly verboten?
posted by grabbingsand to Grab Bag (34 answers total)
Moby Dick.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:10 AM on December 2, 2004

The funny thing is that I actually can't remember any because such facts don't stick in my head. I do have a follow-up question/idea:

What about Fantasy/Sci-Fi books where races of beings have no sex/gender? There's no way to tell if they're gay/straight/whatever... would these be banned or not under the new law?
posted by falconred at 8:23 AM on December 2, 2004

Dhalgreen as well as other Delany works.
The World According to Garp
posted by substrate at 8:27 AM on December 2, 2004

The Left Hand of Darkness
The Female Man
A Passage to India
De Profundis
posted by saladin at 8:30 AM on December 2, 2004

Shakespeare's Sonnet 20.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:33 AM on December 2, 2004

All Sedaris, of course. And Lord of the Rings, 'cause Sam and Frodo aren't just "best friends," if you catch my drift.
posted by gramcracker at 8:35 AM on December 2, 2004

Plato. Catullus. (Not novels?) Proust (not a favorite, but comes to mind).

Buh-bye Whitman, I'm sure.
posted by gimonca at 8:36 AM on December 2, 2004

Lynne Cheney's Sisters :(
posted by filmgoerjuan at 8:38 AM on December 2, 2004

Quoting Lewis Black, on the Daily Show: "So much for the school pla-a-ay!!"
posted by gimonca at 8:41 AM on December 2, 2004

A Picture of Dorian Gray, and most likely the rest of Wilde's stuff.

I've heard (too) many people wax about homosexual undertones in Huckleberry Finn.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:44 AM on December 2, 2004

Augusten Burroughs' Magical Thinking. A gorgeous book.

His Dry and Running With Scissors, too.

I don't think they're in much danger, though.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:45 AM on December 2, 2004

Well, I guess we don't need a look at cosmopolitan San Francisco life in 70s and 80s so let's kiss the Tales of the City series off.

Most of Stephen King's early stuff, since many of his novel/llas featured homoeroticism and -sexuality.
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:46 AM on December 2, 2004

The Iliad.
posted by kenko at 8:51 AM on December 2, 2004

Gore Vidal's American Chronicles series - especially Hollywood, Empire and Washington D.C. (because of that Blaise Sanford character.)
posted by sophie at 9:04 AM on December 2, 2004

Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, among others.
posted by icontemplate at 9:06 AM on December 2, 2004

Death in Venice, Thomas Mann
posted by LionIndex at 9:39 AM on December 2, 2004

The Bible.
posted by herc at 9:39 AM on December 2, 2004

Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (assuming that an Alabama library would carry graphic novels to begin with...).
posted by widdershins at 9:50 AM on December 2, 2004

All of these and many many more: The 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels
posted by amberglow at 10:47 AM on December 2, 2004

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
posted by Capn at 11:35 AM on December 2, 2004

Obsessions of a Closted Homosexual, by Gerald Allen.
posted by LarryC at 11:38 AM on December 2, 2004

excellent point, herc
posted by fletchmuy at 11:47 AM on December 2, 2004

I assume that we would not only lose books by Wilde, Whitman, James Baldwin etc. but also biographies of them, as well as critical essays.

Not to mention DVDs and videos of films that portray homosexuals.

And CDs by Melissa Etheridge, Indigo Girls, Rufus Wainwright, etc.

This is nuts.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Not to mention Michael Chabon's other novels. And he's straight, too.
posted by barjo at 11:48 AM on December 2, 2004

Out go Proust's Remembrance of Things Past and Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time.
posted by thomas j wise at 12:11 PM on December 2, 2004

For some reason, you're all acting as though this is a legitimate question. Did any of you pause to think? The nominal answer is "every gay-themed book ever written"; the actual answer is "Even if hell freezes over and these yokels pass the law, it'll be overturned as unconstitutional."
posted by joeclark at 12:51 PM on December 2, 2004

I'm with joeclark on this.

Besides, it's not like places like Alabama are ever going to be anything but sad and backward. I bet his constituents love him for trying to keep down the homos.
posted by bshort at 1:37 PM on December 2, 2004

joe and bshort, don't forget that it's actually considered legal sometimes and under some circumstances for schools to set standards, and to remove books that don't meet those standards--Shakespeare is no stranger to censorship: the Associated Press reported in March 1996 that Merrimack, NH schools had pulled Shakespeare's Twelfth Night from the curriculum after the school board passed a "prohibition of alternative lifestyle instruction" act. (Twelfth Night includes a number of romantic entanglements including a young woman who disguises herself as a boy.) Readers from Merrimack informed me in 1999 that school board members who had passed the act had been voted out, after the uproar resulting from the act's passage, and that the play is now used again in Merrimack classrooms. --from here

Until the school board members were voted out, and the ban lifted, it was in place.
posted by amberglow at 2:03 PM on December 2, 2004

Plato's "The Banquet".
posted by ruelle at 2:08 PM on December 2, 2004

Besides, it's not like places like Alabama are ever going to be anything but sad and backward.

You know bshort, one man does not speak for all of alabama. There are many types of people here. Progressive, liberal, conservative, hippy, country...probably just like NY.

We also have people here who think if you're gay you're going to hell. They don't care about individuals, they lump all gay people together. They give people in other regions of the US (like NY) a chance to ignore their own problems and make sweeping comments about the whole state. They give the state a bad image, one that some of us in Alabama try to fight. Yes, there are some ignorant backwards people in Alabama. But there are ignorant backwards people everywhere, even in NY.

You're proof of that.
posted by justgary at 4:38 PM on December 2, 2004

whoa there justgary. I wasn't warned not to go to the n____ part of town last time I was in NYC. I know what you are saying, but, all told, alabama is a bit more backwards than the average bear.
posted by jmgorman at 8:57 PM on December 2, 2004

E.M. Forster's Maurice.
posted by jb at 8:59 PM on December 2, 2004

But I have a question - I was just looking through amberglow's list, and seeing many wonderful novels with gay or lesbian characters - but then I saw "Little Women". I don't get this - it's a good book, but gay? Where? I don't count subtext, because you can read into anything. But I can't remember anything the least bit gay about this book, and I would have noticed.
posted by jb at 9:03 PM on December 2, 2004

are you kidding me? "In spite of this affliction, she looked unusually gay and graceful as she glided away. She seldom ran--it did not suit her style, she thought, for being tall, the stately and Junoesque was more appropriate than the sportive or piquante."

Little Women is just full of the gay - you can hardly read a paragraph without coming across it. ;) Seriously, though, my guess is that it is simply because the character of Jo has been a positive model for some lesbians and many other women who were not interested in traditional roles or pursuits.

Here's an excerpt from this essay, that sort of describes that:
I raced home to watch Family on TV, searching in Kristy McNichol's character, Buddy, for some clues on how to be a tomboy and still be able to survive. I read and reread Little Women trying to find the same clues in Jo. I wanted to try and figure out how to act and I had no one who said, Hey, I want the same things you want. This is how I try and live my life.

I don't think any of the writers of Family or Kristy McNichol or Louisa May Alcott were trying to put across a secret homosexual agenda. I don't think they were trying to provide for a teenager in 1980s suburban America who was desperate to know that she was not alone. I think, in the dearth of other images of affection, I looked to those that, in some fashion, I could find a portion of myself.
So, to be safe, Alabama should definitely burn all the Little Women at the stake.
posted by taz at 12:27 AM on December 3, 2004

My teenage heart was broken when Jo March, who seemed an obvious dyke to me, was revealed as married to Professor Baer in Alcott's "Little Men." Years later, members of my lesbian book group said they'd felt the same way.

The horror of the proposed legislation is that gay kids would lose access to books about people like themselves. Adults can safely order books on-line, even from Alabama--for now.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:17 AM on December 3, 2004

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