Sunday, April 12, 2009

Yes, I'm Blue: Amazon Discriminates Against YA Queer Literature

Something fishy is going on at Search for "homosexuality," for instance, and here are some of the first books that pop up:

A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality
Can Homosexuality Be Healed?
You Don't Have to Be Gay: Hope and Freedom for Males Struggling With Homosexuality or for Those Who Know of Someone Who Is

Specify that you're looking for the most popular books featuring homosexuality, and you still won't find literary classics such as Brokeback Mountain, or even non-fiction books like the biography of Harvey Milk.

Amazon recently released the following statement:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

Since their "entire customer base" is apparently offended by homosexual content (it's not as if any of these excluded books could be made into, say, Oscar-nominated movies or something), it's necessary to disable the sales rank functions for these books. The ability for a customer to determine their popularity disappears.

Never fear--you can still find Playboy on their sales rankings, along with all the other straight erotica you could ever want.

You can still search for vibrators, though I'm surprised they don't require a contract that you'll only use them for heterosexual fantasizing.

Lest you think this only affects erotica, meta_writer on livejournal is compiling a list of all the books affected. A few of the YAs include the Rainbow Boys trilogy by Alex Sanchez and the Am I Blue? book of essays and short stories by Marion Dane Bauer.

Just after my older sister came out of the closet, she used Am I Blue? as the subject of her ninth grade book report.

The teen years are a confusing time for sexuality. Books like Alex Sanchez's and anthologies like Am I Blue? help show teens questioning their place in a heteronormative society that it's okay to be different, that they're fine how they are, that they don't have to change.

Now they'll find books asking if they can be cured and telling them how their parents could have prevented them.

EDIT: Here is a petition against Amazon's new policy.


bethany said...

Great Post Shady!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, so I'm a Christian which means I don't really support homosexuality (the practice, not the people - don't send me hate mail). And you know what I have to say about this?


I. Hate. Censorship.