Cold War, Banned Books, McCarthy, queerness, queer-related, queer themes, Baldwin, Torrès, Giovanni's Room, Women's Barracks, communism, Gathings Committee, House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials, immoral, pornographic
This article aims to explore queer book banning during the 1950s in response to Cold War national defense tactics. The decade witnessed the formation of the first public LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the United States as well as a rise in queer literature and publications. This publicization of queerness in society was seen as a rejection of traditional societal norms and threatened the Cold War-imposed gender ideology. In addition, the fear of Communist expansion led to the conflation of homosexuals and Communists, categorizing queerness and queer-related themes as immoral and as an interference in the United States' fight for democracy.
Specifically, this paper seeks to answer how national defense tactics led to the villainization of queerness and the censoring of queer themes in books. I argue that book bans during the Cold War were a form of internal regulation intended to protect the public from exposure to queerness and to protect the nuclear family. I aim to understand the process of book banning by using two different queer texts, Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin and Women's Barracks by Tereska Torrès, and their public reception as proxies for understanding the more significant effect of Cold War queer book-banning campaigns.
Quintana-Rodriguez, María J. (2023) "Attempted Book Bans: The Censorship of Queer Themes in the 1950s," Swarthmore Undergraduate History Journal: 4 (2), 100-121. https://works.swarthmore.edu/suhj/vol4/iss2/7