Political Notebook: 2023 op-art takes a novel twist

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday December 27, 2023
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These are some of the titles that Fabulosa Books in the Castro sends out to groups in other states through its Books Not Bans program.
These are some of the titles that Fabulosa Books in the Castro sends out to groups in other states through its Books Not Bans program.

This year's installment of the Political Notebook's op-art feature is taking a novel approach. Rather than showcase an editorial artwork by a queer individual, the 2023 edition of the annual feature in the last column of the year is focusing on a political literary act.

Below is a photomontage created from the cover art for some of the titles that Fabulosa Books in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro district most often includes in the boxes of books it has been shipping to groups in states where queer books have been banned. Its last three shipments have all gone to Idaho, including to the organizers of drag queen story hours in the Gem State, after residents of the Rocky Mountain state happened to stop by the bookstore at 489 Castro Street and learned about its Books Not Bans initiative from the staff.

Each box consists of 20 books, and since the program launched last Pride Month, the gay-owned store has sent 30 boxes at a cost of $400 each to groups across the country. A Quaker group in Florida has been a recipient, as it oversees book drives across the Sunshine State and contacted Fabulosa about receiving some LGBTQ titles to hand out to queer youth.

"Representation is so critical. Giving queer kids more opportunities to see people like them who they can connect with in stories is so important and can not be more important given the manufactured hysteria they are having to face," said Bex Hexagon, the store's events coordinator who also oversees the book box program.

It will be continuing into 2024. The store has a dedicated display for it where customers can buy books to put into the boxes or purchase a ticket at whatever amount they want to contribute to the initiative.

G. M. Johnson, who authored the 2020 book "All Boys Aren't Blue," and Mike Curato, who wrote the 2020 graphic novel "Flamer," are among the authors who have donated books for the boxes. Their titles often land on yearly lists of the most banned LGBTQ books.

Other bookstores have also joined the effort, such as Folio Books in Noe Valley (3957 24th Street) and Haight-Ashbury's The Booksmith (1727 Haight Street). St John's United Church of Christ in the city's Forest Hill neighborhood has been donating three books a month toward the effort after one of its parishioners happened to meet Hexagon, who welcomes inquiries from out-of-state groups who would like to receive a box.

"People have been more excited and responsive and supportive than I expected," Hexagon told the B.A.R. this month.

To learn more about the Books Not Bans program, or to donate toward it online, visit Fabulosa Books' webpage for it here.

Illustration: Ernesto Sopprani  

Political Notes, the notebook's online companion, will return Monday, January 8.

Keep abreast of the latest LGBTQ political news by following the Political Notebook on Threads @ https://www.threads.net/@matthewbajko.

Got a tip on LGBTQ politics? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

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