Penguin-gate

I never had a relationship with the library. I never even read much as a kid to begin with - every now and then I’d obsess over just one series, like “Artemis Fowl”, or Judy Blume’s “Fudge”, “Mary Kate and Ashley”, “Captain Underpants”, Lemony Snicket - but I wouldn’t call my reading a habit. I had more of a relationship with my Gameboy and kick scooter. Plus, when I read at all, I owned, rented, or borrowed from the tuition center.

So the thing that upsets me the most isn’t so much the pulping, but the fact that this is just one exercise out of a larger attempt to shut queer people out of public spaces, and out of public discourse. “Attempt” doesn’t even begin to capture the paranoia and obsession - We Are Against Pink Dot in Singapore freely admits their grand plans in the open group.

People hate it when queerness is visible, and they hate it when queer people behave without remorse and without inhibition. That’s why they call it the “gay lifestyle” - queer lives are okay, queer living is not.

While the queer-friendly FAQs were sitting on HPB’s website they never hurt anyone, but when the religious watchdogs found out, suddenly our social fabric was falling apart at the seams. While the books were there they never hurt anyone, but when the self-proclaimed moral guardians found out, suddenly there’s a threat to humanity sitting on bookshelves.

Never once, when the state swiftly aligned itself with the “defenders of the family”, did it stop to consider if, just maybe, the only hurt feelings here are people who are offended simply by other people having nice things.

A little perspective: I’ve lost a queer friend to suicide, and I personally know more than a handful who’ve been beaten, tormented, thrown out of homes, received rape and death threats. Queer activists and our allies talk about these things a lot, but the state is quicker to sympathize with people offended by an illustrated same-sex penguin couple.

This is why I’m incensed by people saying we’re overreacting and uncompromising. We didn’t start this bullshit, and we’re (I’m) not interested in a “halfway point” that is a spot on a reference shelf, because we shouldn’t have to meet anyone halfway on their butthurt field trip.

Civility is not the same as taking things lying down. I will “agree to disagree” over crunchy and smooth peanut butter. And I will “agree to disagree” when the wellbeing and protection of queer people are no longer up for grabs by zealots eager to score brownie points with their gods and their followers.

 
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