Going Too Far, For Everyone's Sake

A nice surprise! Someone pointed me to the P.E.N. Club of America Facebook page which put up an odd photo of me but with this quote "The main purpose of censorship is to promote ignorance, whether it is by lying and bowdlerized texts or by attacking individual books." The quote is from my blog at the Huffington Post's Banned Books issue and you can read the entire essay here: FelicePicano@HuffingtonPost

The envelope was from Her Majesty's Inland Revenue and Customs Service, located at a dock outside London, England, addressed to the publisher of Gay Presses of New York. I was one of the three owners of GPNy so I opened the envelope and read the letter. In the politest possible language I was informed that the 20 copies of my memoir, Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children, intended for Gay Is the Word Bookstore at Russell Square, had been "seized by the signatory, declared obscene, and destroyed by immolation."

That was in 1989. Since my early twenties I had done as much as possible to protest and rebel against a society I had hopes for and wanted to reform. More than one person had told me, in no uncertain terms, "Some day you will go too far!"

That day had arrived: it was March 17, 1989.

I was astounded and at the same time I was very pleased. I'd never been censored before. Having a book censored means something. It means you have deeply offended one or more people who felt they needed to protect unsuspecting readers from your inflammatory words, thoughts, and images. Before this occurred, I'd been nominated for important literary awards, I'd had a few bestsellers, my books had been translated into many languages, but nothing before this had ever truly satisfied me that I was having any real effect as a writer.

-- > more at HuffingtonPost.com