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Woman passionately defends LGBTQ+ community after right-wing uproar over Pride book display

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Side by side images of a woman passionately speaking at a podium during a Maury County library meeting

A Tennessee woman has gone viral for passionately defending the LGBTQ+ community after conservatives got angry over a Pride book display. 

Zachary Fox resigned from his role as library board director in Maury County, Tennessee after right-wing uproar over a display of LGBTQ+ books, WSMV reported. The library board accepted Fox’s resignation during its monthly meeting Wednesday (26 October), but protestors raised their voices at the meeting in support of LGBTQ+ books and Fox. 

One participant, identified as Jessee Graham, gained widespread praise for her impassioned speech defending the LGBTQ+ community, Fox and the banned books. 

Graham said the town had “never seen so much homophobic c**p as since” Maury County commissioner Aaron Miller, who criticised the LGBTQ+ books, “came along”. 

Miller objected to the Pride display at the library because he believed it contained “age-inappropriate” material on gender, the Columbia Daily Herald reported. Some community members also rallied against Pride books in the library on social media. 

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Graham pointed out that these residents have been in the community “this entire time” and yet there was never a problem before. 

“These people have been with us this entire time and we have never had a problem with it,” Graham said. “They have never done any of the vile and disgusting things that that man and his weird cronies have leaked out of their mouths.”

@msnbc

Jessee Graham spoke out against a conservative group during a Maury County, #Tennessee Board of Trustees meeting after a library director allegedly resigned due to pressure from the group over a Pride display and #LGBTQ books they deemed inappropriate.

♬ original sound – MSNBC

“I’ve never been sexually assaulted at a drag show, but I have been at church – twice!” she said, adding the “men in that church” told her that it was her “fault”. 

“This whole scenario should have been stopped at the United States of America, where we have free speech,” Graham said. “But it didn’t. We’re here.”

Graham ripped apart the group’s “fake pious” arguments about their objections to the LGBTQ-themed display being founded in their religious beliefs and wanting to “protect the kids”. 

“I’m so sick of listening to this weird, fake, pious c**p about Christianity being the reason behind why we have to protect the kids,” Graham said. 

“Jesus didn’t go anywhere and condemn people. He did not ever walk into a place and spew hatred and lies and completely annihilate a group of human beings who just want to exist.” 

The passionate speech defending queer people quickly gained support on social media, and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki even commented: “Preach Jessee Graham.”

Conservative groups have increasingly targeted books about LGBTQ+ issues or featuring queer characters. 

Over 41 per cent of the banned books of the 2021-22 school year featured people who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or addressed queer themes, according to PEN America. 

The report found at least 50 parent and community groups have been actively pushing for book bans in US schools and libraries. These groups played a role in at least half of the more than 2,532 instances of individual book bans enacted in the last school year.

Texas led the nation as the state with the most books banned in the 2021-2022 school year, according to the PEN America report. The state had 801 bans across 22 districts. 

However, Tennessee was the state with the fourth-highest bans as there were 349 instances of book bans enacted across six districts in the last school year. 

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