This is Banned Books Week and the American Library Association has released its list of 513 challenges against books that were reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2008. Once again, the title that inspired the most objections was the children's book And Tango Makes Three about the gay penguins in Central Park's zoo.
A new title on the list is Sarah S. Brannen's 32-page picture book Uncle Bobby's Wedding which celebrates same-sex marriage portrayed by two male guinea pigs in tuxedos trading vows.
The third gay title in the top ten is Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a perennial favorite and an annual target. People really love this novel. With nearly 1,300(!) reader reviews on Amazon it has an average rating of 4.5 stars. (For comparison, another cherished title, Lorrie Moore's Birds of America, published a year earlier, has 86 customer reviews and averages 3.5 stars.) Last February marked the 10th anniversary of Perk's publication and it is still a brisk seller nationwide, yet Chbosky has never written another book. A graduate of USC Filmic Writing Program, he concentrates on movies now.
Just to be clear why the complaints are so troubling: Books are challenged not simply for sexual content but because some people object to "positive portrayals of homosexuals."
For a map of the complainers' locations, click here. It's not precisely what you'd think. Conservative hotbeds Utah, Alaska, and South Dakota don't have any.