The Book Business Needs to Be a Better LGBTQ Ally

From Publisher’s Weekly:

As a publisher and a parent of a queer-identifying child, I was thrilled and honored when Drag Story Hour chose to read our book No One Owns the Colors, written by Gianna Davy and illustrated by Brenda Rodriguez, for Read Across America Day in March. I saw it as win-win: great recognition for a book and author I love, plus a wider platform for the book’s important message of joy, self-expression, and liberation.

But that was before the backlash. Once I started to express my enthusiasm for this opportunity, I was accused of promoting the “grooming” of children, and an onslaught of emails ensued, one of them even attacking my mothering. The experience popped my San Francisco bubble and made me realize how important it is to stand up and speak out for books, authors, and communities who need our support.

Recent headlines portray drag events as sexual and harmful to children, distorting and misrepresenting the art of drag and its rich history that can be traced back centuries. Drag has been described as the theatrical performance of gender and creative self-expression that plays with traditional notions of gender, among many other definitions. And while there have been countless stories and features on the harm of banning books with LGBTQ content, we’re not seeing the same outrage about the war on drag.

We need to work with organizations within our industry such as Drag Story Hour to elevate their platform, which exists to promote reading and diversity. The program strives to capture the imagination and play of gender fluidity that’s a cornerstone of childhood and gives kids glamorous and positive queer role models.

It is not enough to add LGBTQ titles to publishers’ lists or create imprints dedicated to LGBTQ titles. We are at a pivotal point in history where all of us must speak out and act against any insinuation that drag has an agenda to indoctrinate children—an accusation that blatantly misunderstands LGBTQ experiences and is rooted in homophobia and transphobia.

In March, Tennessee became the first state to ban drag performances in public spaces as well as anywhere in the presence of someone under 18 years old. I am a mother of a child whose gender expression and sexuality is being questioned by conservative activists and politicians. I am also an ally—to my child and to anyone whose gender expression doesn’t fit neatly into the confines of the socially imposed binary.

In January 2022, Tennessee also banned the Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, citing “inappropriate language” as its reason for doing so. I wrote a Soapbox column for PW that March titled “Correcting the Distortion of History,” about the importance of stepping into my own power as a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors to create a safe space for Jewish voices. The efforts to extinguish popular drag story hours at which queens read to kids take from the same playbook. Both crackdowns seek to undermine the validity of marginalized people’s existence.

Being an ally means taking an active stance for the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it. The Nazis began with burning and banning books in 1933. Between 1933 and 1945, an estimated 100,000 gay men were arrested by Nazis—a dire warning about just how scary and real these Tennessee laws are. We need to examine our relationship to homophobia and transphobia as we see the rise in book challenges and bans at libraries across the U.S.

Link to the rest at Publisher’s Weekly

PG has personal feelings and opinions about LGBTQ and the current sexual/political discussions/disagreements about that topic.

That said, he reminds any visitors who choose to leave comments to be courteous and respectful towards those with opinions that may diverge from their personal opinions/feelings/etc.

35 thoughts on “The Book Business Needs to Be a Better LGBTQ Ally”

  1. There are actually two serious problems here. Each requires attention; attention being paid to each problem, however, is being used to deflect attention from nonresponsiveness to the other. (That will make more sense in a moment, I hope.)

    (1) Publishing must come to a diverse, nonuniversal custom regarding the substance of inclusiveness issues. Regardless of any particular individual’s take on LGBTQ rights, or economic/social/ethnic/religious diversity, or whatever, it’s not only foolish to expect every work to comply with it — it’s literally impossible. Exhibit A: The Merchant of Venice is literally/literarily impossible to conceive of without full embrace of the various aspects of prejudice, bullying, bigotry, whatever you wish to call it. (And I want my ducats back.)

    And more to the point, any publisher that is not a single author’s captive house is necessarily going to publish works that have at least a little nonidentity in viewpoints and expression. So expecting a monolithic, monotonic solution is impossible.

    I personally believe that there needs to be a substantially greater effort paid going forward† to inclusiveness issues, with a lot less attention to purported authenticity. But I’m not an infallible philosopher-king, and how I might apply those preferences to a particular work at issue will no doubt get some disagreement. And that’s just fine — so long as we’re having an argument and not a lynching.

    (2) Whatever measures are taken, in whatever element of the inclusiveness inquiry, need to be reflected in the persons, personalities, and actual acts and speech of the entire publishing industry. Not just a few figureheads, or loudmouthed authors, but something that truly establishes “industry custom” in a way that does not look like Chicago or Kansas city governance (different names, different policy labels, same power brokers, same corruption).

    There’s something to be said here for “kick the bastards out.” There’s also something to be said here for “it’s easier to reform the devil(s) we already know.” I don’t pretend to have a universal solution… or at least not one that’s not tinged by my personal animus for some of the utter jerksindividuals who are currently in control positions. (And not all of them are formally in the publishing hierarchy — there’s one BigNameAgency that makes Regnery look tolerant of differing perspectives and opinions.)

    † I am just not going to get into the “reprints of older works” issues here. For every legitimate lament (whether of “censorship” or “intolerance”), there’s an opposing one; for every legitimate purpose of historical study, there’s an opposing purpose of present tomfoolery; for every Huckleberry Finn there’s a Pr0toc0ls of the Elders of Zi0n (partially leetspeaked to prevent indexing and invasion by… well… the descendents of Чека, the actual “publisher”).

    • You expect too much.
      Today it is lynching parties or nothing.
      And the time from zero to lynching is measured in seconds.
      By now the masses are too well trained in the vernacular of grievance for anything else.

      (Or, more plainly, what goes around comes around.)

      And no, publishing doesn’t *need* to do anything a toothless bloviating pundit prescribes. They answer to a higher authority from across the pond. 🙂

      • I know I’m expecting too much. I was a federal officer in the 80s, stationed for a while in Oklahoma… and for a while, later, in DC. Mandated “political correctness” comes in more than one flavor, even if they’re all variations on the famous Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor Cowpatty Delight.

        But I can dream.

        • The only way the tit-for-tat lynchings end is with a social reset.
          And those only come after catastrophes.
          Which are anything but enjoyable and rarely last. The last one (22 years ago) didn’t.

  2. “The program strives to capture the imagination and play of gender fluidity that’s a cornerstone of childhood and gives kids glamorous and positive queer role models.”

    That’s the best reason I have seen for opposing the program.

      • If three generations of imbeciles are enough, please explain several of the major political dynasties on both sides of the party divide to me… and then ponder the irony that the man who wrote that statement is the same man who first provided a scholarly framework for a right to privacy.

        • What right to privacy?
          There is no explicit right to privacy, as such, at the federal level because a group of our betters decided it was “implied”. Didn’t bother to layout any rules or conditions.
          After 50 years of fighting over both, we’re back where we started.

          The euros meanwhile, without a handful of knowitalls short circuiting the national conversation, sat down, took their time to debate like adults and codified a detailed map of what is and isn’t private.

          We haven’t even started, to the delight of Google, Facebook,cand their ilk. Not holding my breath that any comprehensive framework will be enacted any time soon. Just more handwaving and pearl clutching.

    • My question is what kind of childhood the author had that they consider “gender fluidity” to be a normal part of childhood. Because I certainly don’t recall it being part of mine, or that of anyone I knew.

      • Agreed, Tom. I don’t remember any gender fluidity at all in my childhood. I never had any and I’m pretty certain that none of my friends of either of the two recognized genders back then felt fluid in the least.

  3. I consider myself an ally for the minority group. Children, I respect their innocence and don’t feel they should have adult matters shoved in front of them just because adults want to promote their lifestyle.

    I am not surprised kids like people dressed up in bright, colourful costumes and reading to them, I doubt the sex or gender of the person is the part thats important to them.

    • Bright colorful costumes?
      So, how many libraries have clown reading hours?
      Are you sure the driving force is the reading? Not using kids to normalize drag queens in the public space? The latter might be a valid argument in the *political* arena but in the early education space? Dunno, but that smacks of Lenin’s young pioneers.

      Smacks of indoctrination.
      Especially when author Kirk Cameron is forced off libraries when trying to do his own reading hour. With no effort to disguise the fact that it is the *content* of his children’s books that makes him persona non grata at *publicly funded* facilities.

      Given the amount of children growing up without fathers in their lives or strong male figures, it is odd that small children are presented with drag queens as substitute role models. That speaks of something other than a literacy campaign. Definitely something that begs for closer examination because it clearly isn’t “for the children”.

      • Honestly, the primary agenda here has absolutely nothing to do with children. The whole “drag queen story hour” thing is about leftist librarians and parents who, for various reasons, desperately want to be seen as LGBTQ+ “allies” and not as evil conservative stick-in-the-muds. At its most nefarious, it’s meant to shock the squares. What effects this might have on the kids are considered an afterthought.

      • So, how many libraries have clown reading hours?

        Not very many. Clowns are scarier than drag queens, especially when the “clowns” are elected officials there for a photo op showing how much they care about children (and reading really, really badly).

  4. Growing up on ranches and farms provided more than a little education for PG about sexuality of various types.

    It was very common for male cattle, male hogs and male sheep to be castrated relatively early in their lives, turning them into steers, barrows and wethers. Castration of roosters turned them into capons.

    In some cases, a rancher/farmer would handle the castration himself/herself (although I don’t ever remember women participation in that procedure, there is no reason they could not perform castrations as well as the men.) The process involved immobilizing the animal, typically in a stall, then using a sharp knife to do the deed. It typically takes only seconds, then a spray or dab of anti-infection liquid was applied and the animal was released.

    The castrated animals sometimes went off their feed for a few days, but typically healed within a week and were acting just as they had before the procedure. (A farmer’s daughter I dated referred to the process as ‘taking out their transmission.”

    The principal purpose of castration on the farm was to avoid fights between males when females came into heat. If you’ve ever witnessed two stallions with their transmissions intact when they scent a mare in heat fight each other, you’ll understand why it’s dangerous not only for the males, but also for the mares and any farm hands who are in the corral trying to separate the stallions before one or both is seriously injured.

    Typically, male animals were not included in the much larger groups of neutered males or females because of their more aggressive natures. Several breeding males can be kept together with generally peaceful results so long as there are no females nearby.

    PG’s understanding is that, under current best practices, a large portion of cows and heifers (a heifer is a virgin cow), are artificially-inseminated. Among other benefits, the process is less potentially damaging to the female animals in the absence of a bull. Plus, acquiring semen from an outstanding bull will allow a significant number of heifers/cows to deliver calves which are genetically like the bull and thus can have more valuable body configurations than they would have if they were fathered by run-of-the-mill farm bulls. These inherited characteristics may include faster growth, more extensive muscle development (meat) and even a better flavor and texture for the meat.

    That’s the way PG learned about gender when he was growing up.

    • You horrible, horrible person, learning about gender from your own lying eyes, and worse yet, from biology! Don’t you know you’re supposed to learn it from the bloviating activists who are fashionable at the moment, and forget everything you learned when the fashions change? Why are you anti-science?!

      • People keep using that word. To those actually involved in the controversy, it does not mean what they think it does. And this is, fundamentally, the problem with the entire argument:

        Is gender an objective, purely physiological aspect of an organism, or not?† More to the point, does that objective, purely physiological aspect (presuming that there is one, and that there are no XXY persons in existence‡) mean that there is necessarily a rigid and enforceable social behavior-set associated with it — one for each of the two?

        This is a much more complex argument and circumstance (and we know an awful lot less than we think we do biologically — consider, for the moment, whether the prospective hams PG encountered on the farm were an accurate sample and representation of the genus Sus) than just about anyone who talks about “gender fluidity” ever considers. Regardless of their “position” on “gender fluidity.”

        Not just humans.

        ‡There are. At least one was (a couple decades ago) a well-known female-presenting news figure; further details are behind the Shield of Confidentiality (I represented an individual sued for libel).

        • Sure, there is more to “gender” than biology, but there is way more to biology than “gender”. And time after time mamma nature has the last word; go against her at your peril. Especially now that there’s a high likelihood that a population bottleneck is headed our way.

          Try this: how biologically/demographically significant to the *species* are those outliers? Especially the volunteers for honorary Darwin Awards.

          Simple thought experiment: a space colony is being built on Mars at the cost of $1M per person in transport and support gear. Plus billions more in common infrastructure for a sustainable civilization. BTW, NASA has determined you need a minimum of 50,000 varied genomes to build up a long term viable gene pool. Species survival is at stake.

          Assignment: Profile who gets to go when the nukes start flying.

          (Perfect story fodder, right? Seen THE EXPANSE? Their mars civilization meets all known plausibility tests. Good bio and social world building.)

          On a more grounded version: rational humans invest a lot of themselves in their kids. They do not take kindly to folks messing with their “investment”. Also note that the most hostile societies to the ” rainbow folks” are all under demographic collapse.

          There is a lot more going on than validating outliers. Nothing is ever as simple as the activists think.

        • Is gender an objective, purely physiological aspect of an organism, or not?†

          No, but sex is. Gender is a grammatical term.

          More to the point, does that objective, purely physiological aspect (presuming that there is one, and that there are no XXY persons in existence‡)

          Individuals with intersex conditions are functionally (in biological terms) members of one sex or the other, or else they are sterile. They do not constitute a third sex.

          mean that there is necessarily a rigid and enforceable social behavior-set associated with it — one for each of the two?

          Why don’t you ask someone who believes that a boy who likes to play with dolls, or a girl who likes to play football, is ‘transgender’ and requires massive hormonal alteration and surgical mutilation so that his or her exterior anatomy will match a ‘rigid and enforceable social behaviour-set’? Such people, nowadays, are easy to find.

          Just don’t try peddling that eyewash to me.

          Before I sign off:

          consider, for the moment, whether the prospective hams PG encountered on the farm were an accurate sample and representation of the genus Sus

          Are you seriously telling me that wild pigs have more than two sexes, and PG is too ignorant to know it because he only met domestic pigs?

          The entire position you appear to be defending boils down to this: ‘A tiny minority of individuals in sexed vertebrate species exhibit genetic or anatomical intersex conditions; therefore male and female do not exist.’ The number of howling fallacies contained and/or implied in that one sentence is difficult to compute.

          • Tom, the position I was defending is that the meaning of “gender” is fluid. It has a substantial intersection with “biological sex” (which itself is less fluid than current celebrity news, but more fluid than apparent in a high-school textbook); it is not congruent, and the hubris involved in being deterministic about “gender” for anyone else is not an appropriate rubric for any industry — let alone any industry related to the arts that necessarily draws upon subjective experience and subjective conjecture.

            • As I pointed out above, ‘gender’ is a grammatical term and applies to language. You can play games with pronouns as much as you wish, but in the end you are only playing word games; reality remains what it is, and does not change into what you choose to call it.

              Biological sex is not at all ‘fluid’: as I said earlier, there are intersex conditions, but those that do not clearly present as one sex or the other are rare.

              Now, please, if you are done trying to squirt cuttlefish ink to cloud the issue, please explain about this third sex of pigs that PG and I, and the ‘high-school biology textbooks’ for which you have such obvious contempt, are too stupid to have heard of, but that you in your enlightenment know all about. For that matter, you might try explaining your personal experience with the sex differences of pigs and how it differs from PG’s.

              I’m just dying to hear it, and I’m sure PG, the biologists, and the pigs are, too.

              • “As I pointed out above, ‘gender’ is a grammatical term and applies to language. You can play games with pronouns as much as you wish, but in the end you are only playing word games; reality remains what it is, and does not change into what you choose to call it.”

                All the recent fighting over words (pronouns, gender, Chatbots”, legalisms all over) reminds me of THE DEMON HAUNTED WORLD about magical thinking and “ends justifies the means” approaches to life.

                Particularly this:

                “It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you got your money as long as you have got it.”

                (Sagan used “morally” wrong, mind you; he should’ve said “ethically” but the chaos surrounding us can be attributed to the lack of ethical training as well as lack of critical thinking. Religion is a pale substitute for ethics, but something, at least. Modernity seeks to survive without either. I don’t see that ending well.)

                The magical thinking permeating the cult of words and legalisms in turn reminded me of THE GOLDEN BOUGH.


                Old and dated in many ways, it still describes magical thinking to a “T”. Specifically, the Law of Similarity which pretends the map is the world. An absolute fallacy as history has shown over and over again; words are at best descriptive attempts to communicate what we *think* might be. That is, philosophy, not physics, not engineering. Or, on this sub-conflict, ” neither biology nor medicine”.

                The map most definitely is *not* the territory and gender is not biology, genetic accidents notwithstanding.

                GOLDEN BOUGH is an excellent research tool for writers interested in certain fantasy subgenres but that it also describes the thinking of so much of our technology driven civilization (would we be even discussing this were it not for the chemistry and cosmetics of gender *simulation* medicine?) is, frankly, disheartening. This is not a step towards a sustainable society.

                Likewise, that Sagan’s 1994 book is more relevant than ever today is not in any way a sign of “social progress”.

                Magical thinking should have ended with the renaissance yet here we are, 5 centuries later still dogged by humans clinging to irrational thought structures.

                This isn’t even humans as “rationalizing creatures”, much less rational thinkers. It is willful ignorance, actively seeking to avoid harsh reality in favor of delusion.

                “‘Pox ‘pon them all!”

  5. Freedom, is not freedom if it is constrained beyond the laws necessary to maintain societal order (free from coercion on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views).

    The fear that in someway political propaganda is meaningfully true (as in can be measured as a constant of nature) is a fiction that sustains our beliefs that our opinions are not only true, but in some ineffable way a fact.

    What we know is limited by what we know, because it is always less that what can be known, and fails to account for what we don’t know, and the unknowns that we don’t know.

    The problem as Heinlein said is, “Man is not a rational animal, but a rationalizing one.”

    The one thing humans enjoy most is rationalizing their opinions by creating stories that support their feelings.

    TL;DR: We’re not going to make it.

  6. While trying to understand the past few years I’ve been turning it into Story.

    – Fiction has to make sense, the Real world does not.

    Just today, I realized that Pascal’s Wager applies. It’s safer to assume that Occult forces are actually at play. That helps explain so many things.

    – I said the other day that this is a clash of religions. That is a literal statement. I just didn’t add that these are the old ways.

    Pascal’s Wager says that the old gods and entities still exist and are at play out in the world. I can’t remember the name of the old god that required sacrificing babies and child mutilation to make boys girls and girls boys, but it’s in full view now. For thousands of years it stayed out of sight among secret societies. Because most people have forgotten them, they can be more bold.

    I hesitated posting this comment, but what the heck, this is actually fairly obvious to me. Forgive me if it’s not to your tastes, but this stuff is real.

    – All those years of my dabbling in esoteric areas has come in handy after all.

    I need to finish these books and publish them.


    BTW, Ad agencies are casting spells, they always have. Watch any commercial, especially political commercials, and you will see what I mean. There are books that discuss this. What amazes me is that the customer reviews often complain that there are no actual spells listed in the book.

    The video I have posted before is an example:


      • I have the book.

        – Dark Ladies by Fritz Leiber – it has, Conjure Witch and Our Lady of Darkness

        Our Lady of Darkness is one of the few books that consistently scare the heck out of me, no matter how many times I’ve read it, because I too am surrounded by pulps that could be used to form her body. Yikes!

        BTW, there is a concept called “Boggled” that describes how researchers come up against something that they will not study. There are so many things that “boggle the mind” and are essentially invisible. What I’m describing is one of those. By phrasing it as Pascal’s Wager it becomes possible to see. The problem is:

        – If you can see them, they can see you.

        • Corollary: Once they see you, if you annoy them enough, they’ll “annoy” you right back.

          Ask any scammer or grifter how much “fun” that is. 😉

          • Yes, “scammer or grifter”, that describes the old gods. People forget that at their peril.

      • I read the book:

        The Abolition of Sex: How the “Transgender” Agenda Harms Women and Girls by Kara Dansky

        Absolutely astonishing. It explains the explosive spread of the term “Transgender”. The tactics are the same pushed by other “Evil Geniuses” to shatter society and monetize people by having Paid Trolls push their agenda.

        Now I know.

        • I’m re-reading DEMON HAUNTED WORLD.
          I keep doing it to myself: cite a must-read, end up re-reading.
          (More topical now than ever.)

          As to the “evil geniuses”, I’m not sure money is behind the movement. Or that any kind of genius is involved with that idiocy. It better fits the malthusian idiots that for decades have been pining for a “culling” of the species in the name of “ecology”. What better way to reduce the size of the next western generation than to sterilize masses of kids?

          Two centuries of women’s rights movements ended with a judge of SCOTUS refusing to define “woman”. That’s the road of the dodo.

          • Nope. “Evil Geniuses”. She mentioned this website for more information.

            The 11th Hour

            Read the articles. Start with the first.

            The Billionaire Family Pushing Synthetic Sex Identities (SSI)

            The wealthy, powerful, and sometimes very weird Pritzker cousins have set their sights on a new God-like goal: using gender ideology to remake human biology

            Standard “Evil Genius” tactics. Billionaires with a personal agenda, Foundations, Paid Trolls, businesses making money from all steps along the way, especially the lifetime of drugs taken to stay changed.

            This is a “Religion”, that is also a major money maker. Remember:

            – “Transgenderism” is good business. Invest your child.

            BTW, What’s interesting about Sagan is his novel Contact.

            They build a machine from alien transmissions. They travel through wormholes(The Underworld), they speak to the dead. They are given the message that the universe was manufactured and that the Builders left messages in transcendental numbers.

            – This is classic “experiencer” description of Alien contact.

            Wiki – Contact (novel)

            Acting on the suggestion of “Ted”, Ellie works on a program to compute the digits of π to heretofore-unprecedented lengths. Ellie’s mother dies before this project delivers its first result. A final letter from her informs Ellie that John Staughton, not Ted Arroway, is Ellie’s biological father. When Ellie looks at what the computer has found, she sees a circle rasterized from 0s and 1s that appear after 10to20 places in the base 11 representation of pi. This not only provides evidence of her journey, but suggests that intelligence is behind the universe itself.

            Sagan railed against “Religion” yet wrote Contact. I’m using Contact, and Strata by Terry Pratchett, as a way to do one of the stories in my latest sequence, tying everything together with the old gods and entities at play in the world.

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