This has been a very difficult post to write, because the news isn’t happy. For all of you who were wondering what of P.D. Singer would show up on TV and YouTube and whatever other venues the Mamie Dowd Eisenhower Library uses for their Off the Page programming, the answer is stark.
The charming librarian who had gone to such lengths to set up the taping on a schedule that worked for us, who had been utterly fascinated by a genre new to her, and who had spent her post-production time shaping the questions and answers into a coherent program, had to notify me that the Powers That Be in the county system had vetoed airing my interview.
Because of the “vivid and erotic descriptions” in my work, and “the potential for giving offence” to the viewership, the folks whose approval she had to gain for that last step declined to air the segment.
Yes, I include sex scenes. Yes, they drive the plot, or they wouldn’t be there. Yes, they are sex scenes between gay men, who apparently are just as persona non grata in this particular county as ever they were before Stonewall.
To say that I’m crushed is to encompass anger, disappointment, and disbelief. Mostly anger. It’s taken me two weeks to write this, just to keep the acid off the screen. And 80% of it isn’t even anger for myself. I am livid that TPTB are unwilling to allow discussion of books that might be of interest to some sizeable plurality of their audience.
Because apparently 100% discussion of the majority isn’t enough, and the delicate flowers who are used to complete domination of the discussion because “that’s the way it should be” ought not be exposed to anything outside their current world view. They’re taxpayers.
So am I. So is every LGBT person in the metro area.
It isn’t that I discussed sex, or said anything inappropriate. Except it seems that the word “gay” is enough to be a problem in some quarters, and the existence of gay sex is potentially so upsetting as to warrant striking the programming.
I actually do know the meaning of the word “Censorship.” I do recognize the difference between private enterprise choosing to accept some things and reject others versus the government’s refusal to allow discussion of a subject. In this case, a local government has chosen to squelch material which clearly fell under the brief of the programming. I am a local author, and even a heavy user of their particular system. I have achieved a bit of success in a genre that portrays love, very much like a quarter or so of their entire collection, and not nearly as explicitly as many books already on their shelves.
My titles are on library shelves around the world: Seattle, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Australia. But not on my home turf.
In no way should blame attach to the librarian, who was also crushed by this decision. She bent over backwards to make this interview happen, and making her be the agent of bad news seemed gratuitously harsh. Her recourse in this was small: she has to work with and for the decision makers, however she feels. I couldn’t have asked for a more invested champion. Alas, her voice was not the voice of authority here.
I am furious on behalf of every person who experiences this kind of silencing because of who they are. I am furious that it was the way of the past, and I am furious that the present hasn’t improved enough to make this sort of event a relic of less enlightened times.
Love comes in more than one color of the rainbow. Which, apparently, in Broomfield, Colorado, is reason enough for silence.