Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
A San Francisco Store is Shipping LGBTQ+ Books to Places Where They are Banned
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 3 weeks ago on
July 1, 2024

In the face of book bans, Becka Robbins of Fabulosa Books in San Francisco's Castro District is using customer donations to send LGBTQ+ literature to groups across the country that need them. (AP/Haven Daley)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

SAN FRANCISCO — In an increasingly divisive political sphere, Becka Robbins focuses on what she knows best — books.

Operating out of a tiny room in Fabulosa Books in San Francisco’s Castro District, one of the oldest gay neighborhoods in the United States, Robbins uses donations from customers to ship boxes of books across the country to groups that want them.

Books Not Bans Initiative

In an effort she calls “Books Not Bans,” she sends titles about queer history, sexuality, romance and more — many of which are increasingly hard to come by in the face of a rapidly growing movement by conservative advocacy groups and lawmakers to ban them from public schools and libraries.

“The book bans are awful, the attempt at erasure,” Robbins said. She asked herself how she could get these books into the hands of the people who need them the most.

Beginning last May, she started raising money and looking for recipients. Her books have gone to places like a pride center in west Texas and an LGBTQ-friendly high school in Alabama.

Support from Customers and the Impact of Book Bans

Customers are especially enthusiastic about helping Robbins send books to places in states like Florida, Texas and Oklahoma, often writing notes of support to include in the packages. Over 40% of all book bans from July 2022 to June 2023 were in Florida, more than any other state. Behind Florida are Texas and Missouri, according to a report by PEN America, a nonprofit literature advocacy group.

Book bans and attempted bans have been hitting record highs, according to the American Library Association. And the efforts now extend as much to public libraries as school libraries. Because the totals are based on media accounts and reports submitted by librarians, the association regards its numbers as snapshots, with many bans left unrecorded.

PEN America’s report said 30% of the bans include characters of color or discuss race and racism, and 30% have LGBTQ+ characters or themes.

Conservative Organizations and Banned Books

The most sweeping challenges often originate with conservative organizations, such as Moms for Liberty, which has organized banning efforts nationwide and called for more parental control over books available to children.

Moms for Liberty is not anti-LGBTQ+, co-founder Tiffany Justice has told The Associated Press. But about 38% of book challenges that “directly originated” from the group have LGBTQ+ themes, according to the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. Justice said Moms for Liberty challenges books that are sexually explicit, not because they cover LGBTQ+ topics.

Among those topping banned lists have been Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer,” George Johnson’s “All Boys Aren’t Blue” and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.”

Robbins said it’s more important than ever to makes these kinds of books available to everyone.

“Fiction teaches us how to dream,” Robbins said. “It teaches us how to connect with people who are not like ourselves, it teaches us how to listen and emphasize.”

She’s sent 740 books so far, with each box worth $300 to $400, depending on the titles.

Impact of the Initiative

At the new Rose Dynasty Center in Lakeland, Florida, the books donated by Fabulosa are already on the shelves, said Jason DeShazo, a drag queen known as Momma Ashley Rose who runs the LGBTQ+ community center.

DeShazo is a family-friendly drag performer and has long hosted drag story times to promote literacy. He uses puppets to address themes of being kind, dealing with bullies and giving back to the community.

DeShazo hopes to provide a safe space for events, support groups and health clinics, and to build a library of banned books.

“I don’t think a person of color should have to search so hard for an amazing book about history of what our Black community has gone through,” DeShazo said. “Or for someone who is queer to find a book that represents them.”

Robbins’ favorite books to send are youth adult queer romances, a rapidly growing genre as conversations about LGBTQ+ issues have become much more mainstream than a decade ago.

“The characters are just like regular kids — regular people who are also queer, but they also get to fall in love and be happy,” Robbins said.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

DON'T MISS

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

DON'T MISS

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

DON'T MISS

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

DON'T MISS

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

DON'T MISS

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

DON'T MISS

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

DON'T MISS

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

DON'T MISS

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

UP NEXT

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

UP NEXT

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

UP NEXT

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

UP NEXT

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

UP NEXT

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

UP NEXT

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

UP NEXT

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

UP NEXT

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

UP NEXT

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

3 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

15 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

16 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

17 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

18 hours ago

‘Twisters’ Is the Long-Awaited Sequel to ‘Twister.’ Where to See It in Fresno.

18 hours ago

Fresno Offers Free Movie Tickets for Seniors to Beat the Heat

18 hours ago

Mexican President Calls Donald Trump ‘a Friend’ and Says He’ll Warn Him Against Closing Border

18 hours ago

Republicans Grapple With Next Moves if Democrats Replace Biden

18 hours ago

California Judge Halts Hearing in Fight Between State Agricultural Giant and Farmworkers’ Union

19 hours ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

“UC Merced, you’re in the city!” Brianna Vaccari The Merced FOCUS That declaration was made by the chair of the Local A...

46 mins ago

46 mins ago

UC Merced Finally Annexed Into City Limits After Two Decades

3 hours ago

Donors Challenged Fresno Pacific to Match Their $1.5M Gift. Was the Goal Reached?

3 hours ago

Garlic, Curry, Fresh Corn – Would You Scream for This Ice Cream?

3 hours ago

Meet Po: A Gentle Superhero Looking for a Home

15 hours ago

Largest Housing Provider for Migrant Children Engaged in Pervasive Sexual Abuse, US Says

16 hours ago

25 Million Watched Trump’s Speech at the RNC on Thursday

17 hours ago

City Wants Hard Reset on Art Hop. Don’t Expect Food Trucks or Vendors in August.

18 hours ago

More Victims Come Forward in Dinuba Sex Assault Case

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend