For Pride month, Penguin Random House installed billboard with quotes from LGBTQ books in New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Austin, Orlando, and Miami. While New York City and Chicago are cities that PRH would regularly advertise in, they specifically chose cities in Texas and Florida because of both the increase in bans and challenges against LGBTQ books in those areas as well as recent anti-LGBTQ legislation, such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” education bill.
Kyle Letendre did the lettering of the billboards, and all of the authors featured are also people of color. The recent wave of book challenges has primarily targeted books by authors of color and queer books — and especially queer books by authors of color — so this choice makes perfect sense. The books and authors featured are Samantha Irby’s We Are Never Meet In Real Life, Akwaeke Emezi’s Dear Senthuran, E. Eric Thomas’s Here For It, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, and Robert Jones Jr,’s The Prophets.
Penguin Random House explained the intention behind the project as: “Our hope is that even more people will see—and truly understand—the power in these words, that it will inspire conversation, and that it will move us toward a better future.”
While the billboards are no longer up — they were just for Pride month — you can see these quote with Kyle Letendre’s lettering, along with more queer content from PRH, in their downloadable 2022 Pride Zine.
Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.