Feeling Zine

Penguin Random House Fights LGBTQ+ Book Bans With a New Queer Zine

With LGBTQ+ content facing rampant bans in school libraries, widespread access to queer literature is at a crucial inflection point. Now the world’s largest trade book publisher is joining the fight with its inaugural “Pride in Your Words” campaign, championing the work of over 250 authors.

Penguin Random House’s “Pride in Your Words” zine showcases five book excerpts along with author Q&As, conversations with queer booksellers, illustrators, and drag queens. The books featured include From Here (Luma Mufleh), The Wicked Bargain (Gabe Cole Novoa), The Late Americans (Brandon Taylor), Uncle of the Year (Andrew Rannells), and Sizzle Reel (Carlyn Greenwald).

“These writers are publishing books in 2023, a time when weare facing a crisis of anti-LGBTQ+legislation and rhetoric,” employee resource group LGBTQ+ Network writes in the zine’s introduction. “Trying times aren’t new, especially for LGBTQ+ communities. So what do books have to do with it? Why is their power needed? Why are they targets of hate?

“Because culture is more powerful than any nation, let alone any faction. It spills past borders, like water. And everyone should wish, like Luma Mufleh’s grandmother in From Here: ‘That everyone in the world could have clean drinking water.’”

The zine goes on to highlight the history and plight of Drag Queen Story Hour (including resources for supporting and protecting those events). Throughout Pride month, Penguin Random House has pledged to donate 15% of its website proceeds (up to $30K) to Drag Queen Story Hour.

The zine concludes with a 2023 LGBTQ+ reading list of upcoming books, and the campaign’s accompanying website fills this list out with hundreds of curated LGBTQ+ books eager readers can add to their library. This year-long hub organizes books into tantalizing categories like “Otherworldly Sci-Fi/Fantasy with Queer Characters,” “LGBTQ+ Love Stories with Happy Endings,” “Histories of the LGBTQ+ Movement,” and “Picture Books that Celebrate Being Queer.”

“Books change people,” the zine reads. “That’s why they’re powerful. It’s also why they’re scary. It’s why fascists want to ban and burn them. It’s why we love to read them and publish them and share them. Have you ever read a book and felt completely seen? Have you ever picked up a book and been delighted to find that someone else had the same thought as you? Books offer community, even when you’re alone. Books can be allies and friends.”

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