A man faced forceful removal by security during a Texas school board meeting as he endeavored to read from an LGBTQ graphic novel at the podium.
A social media video, shared by Paul Leavitt, captures the unidentified man as he starts reading an excerpt from the graphic novel “Flamer” by Mike Curato. The excerpt contains the line, “Who wants my hot wiener?”
“One Fort Worth Independent School District board member abruptly slams down her gavel and calls for security,” Leavitt said. As the narrative unfolds, the man continues reading, only to be approached by an officer. Shortly after, two other security personnel join the officer. The trio surrounds the man, who clings to the microphone and persists in his reading. Chaos ensues in the audience, with voices overlapping and the board member repeatedly striking her gavel.
As the situation escalates, two security officers seize the man’s arms, while a third places his hand on the man’s chest. The crowd’s volume intensifies, with shouts of “Hey, easy now, easy” and “Hey, he’s not breaking the law.” The officers proceed to lead the man out, with murmurs and shouts echoing in the background. A distinct voice cries out “unconstitutional” as the group exits the auditorium.
Another video, captured from a different angle, reveals the man asserting that the book is present in the school. An officer is seen pushing and grabbing him repeatedly. Surrounding parents express their fury, urging the officer to cease his aggressive behavior. The confrontation concludes with the man’s removal from the premises.
“Flamer” was penned by author and artist Mike Curato, making its debut in 2020. “Flamer” serves as a semi-autobiographical graphic novel, set in the backdrop of 1995. The plot revolves around Aiden, a young boy ridiculed at a Boy Scouts summer camp for “acting in a manner considered stereotypical of gay men.” The American Library Association has spotlighted “Flamer” as one of 2022’s most “banned books.” Challenges have arisen in over 62 schools, primarily due to its LGBTQ themes and explicit content. PEN America, an advocate for literature, has ranked “Flamer” among the “most banned books in the U.S. during the first half of the 2022-23 school year.”
Curato has not remained silent amid the controversy. He perceives the backlash as a “politically motivated movement” and a mere “distraction.”
“I think any LGBTQ-themed book is automatically going to be stigmatized as ‘sexual,’ because queer people are sexualized in this country and not seen as three-dimensional people,” Curato said to KTLA 5. Curato characterized “Flamer” as a portrayal of teenage life, targeting readers aged 14-18. He described it as an “honest book,” asserting that its content is no more explicit than that found in a Judy Blume novel.
However, critics have raised concerns over certain illustrations in the book. One such depiction showcases a teenage boy in a shower, while another portrays him admiring the physiques of fellow students. Notably, these illustrations exclude any display of genitalia.
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