Attend Tonight’s Q&A With Katy ISD Banned Book Author – OutSmart Magazine

MariNaomi (courtesy photo)

It’s important for school kids to be able to read books with diverse content so they can have a broader view of the world, according to bisexual, non-binary author MariNaomi.

MariNomi’s Losing the Girl: Life on Earth Volume 1 is one of at least new books that have been banned by the Katy Independent School District due to their outspoken discussion of sexuality and racism.

“They put kids in a situation where they can’t come across something in their libraries that will make them feel more accepted or less alone,” says MariNaomi, who uses the pronouns they/she. “It’s a real problem for marginalized children.”

MariNaomi and other activists take action against Katy ISD book bans. Tonight at 7:30 p.m., they will take part in a free screening of The never list and a virtual Q&A with MariNaomi and attorney Betsey Gomez of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at the Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra.

Michelle Mower, director of The never listdecided to hold the event after MariNaomi (who made an appearance in the film) posted a video on Facebook about her book being banned from Katy ISD.

“I was familiar with MariNaomi’s works and I did not understand why they had been banned. I couldn’t sit and do nothing,” says Mower. “I reached out to MariNaomi and asked her if she wanted to come to Houston for a screening of our film and a signing session. I wanted Katy people to meet MariNaomi and realize that she is not a threat to anyone. Her books beautifully reflect her experience as an Asian American and a member of the LGBTQ community.

Born in Texas and raised in California, MariNaomi grew up dreaming of becoming a novelist. When they discovered underground autobiographical comics in their early twenties, they started creating their own comics.

“I started self-publishing my work and sharing it with my friends and family,” says MariNaomi. “I certainly never thought it would be a career.”

In 2008, MariNaomi had an idea for a book and realized that they didn’t want to self-publish such a big project. Three years later, Harper Perennial publishes Kiss & Tell: a romantic CV, 0 to 22 years olda memoir about when MariNaomi was a teenage and young misfit looking for love in San Francisco, while shedding light on issues of identity and sexuality. After that first book came out, MariNaomi found an agent and decided to write comics full time.

lose the girlMariNaomi’s first book life on earth trilogy, delves into the adventures of four suburban teenagers: early romance, unraveling friendships, and traces of a mysterious, possibly otherworldly disappearance.

MariNaomi doesn’t know why the book was banned by Katy ISD, as it doesn’t contain much LGBTQ content.

“[One of the] The characters realize that she is bisexual and end up with another character who is lesbian in books 2 and 3,” they say, “but we don’t really know that in book 1. So I’m not sure that the person who banned the book actually read it.

The other two books in the trilogy were not banned, according to MariNaomi.

Kristian Salinas, Executive and Artistic Director of Houston International LGBTQ Film Festival QFest, joined forces with Mower and MariNaomi for tonight’s screening of the film and Q&A.

“Representation, especially for teenagers, is important,” says Salinas. “But education may have even more long-term impact, and books offer different perspectives that can educate and ultimately develop and increase empathy for those who are different.”

The mower agrees.

“LGBTQ people are our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. We need to teach children as young as possible to respect each other’s differences,” she says. “If kids get to know LGBTQ people, they usually don’t grow up fearing them or having misconceptions about who they are. Banning LGBTQ books inherently tells kids that it’s not okay to be LGBTQ. That’s the wrong message to send, especially to some of these kids who are probably LGBTQ. We should teach love and mutual understanding, not hate, fear and intolerance.

What: Free screening of The never list, Q&A with author of banned book MariNaoimi
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
Or: Alamo Drafthouse LaCenterra
Tickets: drafthouse.com

Grover Z. Barnes