Aussie queer fiction author calls out book ban in US state

Sophie Gonzales Queer young adult fiction book Only Mostly Devastated banned in an Alabama county
Images: TikTok, Instagram courtesy of Sophie Gonzales

A bestselling author from Adelaide who writes queer young adult fiction has hit out at those in a US state demanding a ban on one of her books.

Author Sophie Gonzales clapped back after discovering a county in Alabama is trying to ban her 2020 teen novel Only Mostly Devastated (above).

The censorship row blew up at a recent public meeting at the Ozark-Dale County Library. Outraged parents and even the mayor demanded the library pull her book and a list of others from shelves. And yes, the phrase “an abomination to God” was used during the meeting.

But on social media, Sophie Gonzales defended her work in a withering takedown of the parents’ complaints.

“So one of my books Only Mostly Devastated was banned. Again,” the author said on TikTok.

“There were a few reasons given, one being bestiality, and the other being sexual contact between a student and the mother of another student.”

But Sophie explained those claims were wildly out of context.

“So I just want to clarify, to anyone who needs to know this, that if a teenager is roasting another teenager and they say ‘I slept with your mum’ it’s generally safe to assume that – in reality – they did not actually sleep with that other student’s mum,” she said.

“And saying that you wouldn’t make out with a labrador is not, in fact, a graphic depiction of bestiality.”

That part of the book was a discussion between characters about how the Frog Prince fairytale was “kind of messed up,” she said.

“So when queer characters say ‘I wouldn’t do that’ it’s discussions of bestiality. But if a fairytale actually does it, it’s a heartwarming innocent tale for kids?” she said.

Conservative censorship campaigns on the rise

In reality, Sophie Gonzales’ Only Mostly Devastated is a contemporary, “boy-meets-boy” reimagining of classic film Grease.

Teenager Will breaks Ollie’s heart after a summer fling. After a family emergency, Ollies happens to transfer to Will’s high school.

But Ollie realises the sweet, queer guy he knew from that summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.

@sgonzalesauthor The funniest part is that the labrador conversation was a group of kids discussing how the frog prince, a FAIRYTALE FOR SMALL CHILDREN, is kind of messed up. The layers. #fyp #booktok #yabooks #youngadult #youngadultbooktok #onlymostlydevastated #gayya #queerbook #queerbooktok #bookbanning #bookbanningiswrong ♬ original sound – Sophie Gonzales

Last year, Sophie Gonzalez discovered schools in Texas had banned her book Perfect on Paper, among dozens of other titles.

“These are just stories written for kids that happen to star children who aren’t white, cis and straight,” she said.

In June, Australian author Scott Stuart also criticised officials in Georgia who sacked a teacher for reading his book about a non-binary child.

US-style conservative censorship campaigns targeting inclusive children’s books are also sadly on the rise in Australia.

Last month, the Australian Christian Lobby appealed to supporters to search libraries for books to ban.

The Gold Coast City Council recently rebuffed a homophobic petition targeting libraries’ inclusive children’s books promoting so-called “alternative sexual lifestyles”.

Recently, neo-Nazis and others have targeted libraries hosting Drag Storytime events, forcing cancellations over safety issues.

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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