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Maine Pastors Attempt to Remove My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness Manga from Library Display

posted on by Lynzee Loveridge

The irony of the situation appears to be lost on a group of pastors from Maine who attempted to get Kabi Nagata's My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness manga and other LGBTQ+ books removed from a Banned Book library display. The display was installed to recognize Banned Book Week at Rumford Public Library, an annual event started in 1982 that takes place nationwide to highlight books targeted for censorship.

Clergy members Dan Pears of Rumford Baptist Church, Justin Thacker of Praise Assembly of God, and Nathan March of the Parish of the Holy Saint sent a joint letter to the Rumford Public Library on September 6. The letter states that its writers feel the display is not "appropriate for a public library serving the families and people of the River Vale area" and mentions the nudity on the cover of the My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness manga as "risque and immodest" and that books in the display promote homosexuality. The letter goes on to say that "children should not be subjected to early sexualization" and suggests the display is abusive to children, promotes "far left political views that sees homosexuality as acceptable," and is insensitive to the views of traditional Christians and Muslims.

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) issued statements in support of the Rumford library's display on Monday. NCAC wrote in its press release, "NCAC and CBLDF oppose efforts to limit a whole community's access to books based on the personal viewpoints or religious beliefs of some groups or individuals in that community. As public institutions, libraries are obligated not to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint or sexual orientation."

At least 50% of books appearing on this year's American Library Association Top 10 Banned Books are stories featuring LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

The library held an open discussion for its visitors to decide what, if any changes, should be made to the display. Approximately 70 people sat in on the meeting on September 11, including the letter authors Pearson and Thacker. Thacker issued an apology at the meeting where he said, "I did not want to alienate the gay community." He added that he thought only the library's Board of Trustees would read the letter and considered it "unfortunate" that it was made public.

"None of us that signed that are interested in banning or destroying any books. I don't know how that rumor got started," Thacker said.

Teachers and community religious leaders, like pastor Cindy Christie of Rumford Point Congregational Church, attended the meeting in support of the library. The discussion ran for 105 minutes and ended with the library's Board of Trustees voting unanimously to leave the Banned Book Week display intact.

"By moving that (display), it would be a form of censorship that we cannot do, under any circumstance," said Board of Trustee chairperson Carolyn Kennard.

Source: Sun Journal (Bruce Farrin, Rumford Falls Times), National Coalition Against Censorship, Katje Fae's Twitter account

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