Wherever They Burn Books…

October 16th, 2009

There was a hot shirtless guy in the middle.

Earlier this year, a Wisconsin Christian group sued the American Library Association for the right to burn a library book entitled Baby Be-Bop. The book is a charming young adult novel about a gay boy struggling to come to terms with his sexual orientation after being attacked by a homophobic gang. Totally unacceptable, according to the religious extremist group who—backed by legal aid from the Christian Civil Liberties Union—demanded not only the rights to burn the book publicly, but also sought $120,000 in compensatory damages because the elderly plaintiffs’ “mental and emotional well-being was damaged by this book at the library.”

Robert C. Braun, the president of the Christian Civil Liberties Union branch, made his intentions quite clear: “We don’t want it put in a section for adults,” Braun told the press, “we want it out or destroyed.”

I haven’t heard what became of the lawsuit (which likely means it failed miserably), but the story stuck in my mind due to the sheer insanity of the situation. These kooks would absolutely burn this website if they could.

I had written off the situation as being hopelessly beyond response, when I came across another story this week that I found to be a wonderful inspiration. And it has a Canadian twist.

Peter Bernier, operating out of his Toronto home, is the founder and sole operator of Rainbow Link. Since 2005, Bernier has donated boxes of GLBT-themed books to small town libraries, helping stock the shelves with stories that people like him can relate to. Recalling what it was like reading his first queer novel as a gay person, Bernier explained his motivations to Xtra: “I wanted to read gay love stories. It was a long time before I found anything that reflected my desires or made any sense of them.”

Essentially, while some people are trying make books unavailable through symbolically violent means, one man is making them available through hard work and generous donations.

GLBT books offer guidance, advice, consolation, and entertainment to millions of gay people. To find out more about Rainbow Link and help become part of the exact opposite of a book burning, write to “culture” at RainbowLink.ca, or send something the old fashioned way: Rainbow link, P.O. Box 111, Station F, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2L4.