When I was younger, I wanted to write a book, though not for particularly great reasons. It seemed everyone was writing a book about all manner of things, so I wanted to follow the crowd, and I wanted to be rich. Though my parents had always taught me that doing something because everyone else was doing it was a bad idea, somehow, my brain didn’t put writing a book in that category. I eventually realized that writing a book because everyone else was doing it wasn’t a good reason, and writing a book didn’t really make you rich. As I got older and to some extent wiser, I recognised that I had an actual story I wanted to share, and I hoped that sharing it would positively impact anyone who engaged with it.
Book bans are not new to the US, and neither are they something new in the history of literature. However, every article I have read says that the book bans happening in the US today have a more specific focus this time, with the majority of the authors being BIPOC and/or LGBTQ. These bans are futile attempts to hide information and deny young people access to the diversity of thought available in the world of literature. Futile because young people of this generation are finding ways of working around these bans. Futile because denying information does not benefit anyone in the long term. Futile because these bans will foster a new generation of youth unwilling to accept the oppression and disenfranchisement of another. I believe these bans will ultimately have the opposite effect and encourage even more people to tell their stories in book form but also in any other variety of ways.
Whether you are living under the tyranny of book bans or anti-homosexuality bills, remember you have a voice and a story to tell. Your story may be five lines, five hundred words, or fifty thousand words. You may tell your story in a blog post, a TikTok video, or a book (novel, comic, memoir, etc.). Whether you share anonymously, under a pseudonym, or with your own name, in whatever format, know that there is someone who will find in your work a reflection of themself and who will be positively impacted by your voice.
Angeline Jackson is an LGBTQ human rights activist, an HIV/AIDS educator, and the former executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica. In 2015, President Barack Obama recognized Angeline as one of Jamaica’s remarkable young leaders at the Town Hall for Youth in Kingston, Jamaica. Angeline participated in a U.S. Senate briefing panel on LGBT rights in 2014 and attended the first White House Forum on Global LGBT Human Rights. She lives in Jamaica. Learn about her memoir, Funny Gyal, here.