Watch: Queer Roadside Library in Mass. Vandalized for Third Time

Saturday March 12, 2022
Originally published on March 7, 2022

A Massachusetts queer, roadside library was victimized by thieves for the third time in a month when someone was caught on video Sunday morning stealing LGBTQ+ books, according to Boston's NBC10.

Named "The Little Queer Library," the establishment is a street-side box that contains books with LGBTQ+ content. "It was started by [Katie] Cohen and her wife, Krys Petrie, as a hobby during the pandemic. As a visibly LGBTQ couple in Waltham, they decided to offer LGBTQ+ books; ranging from informative non-fiction to picture books for children," said.

The man "(c)ame up to the book box, grabbed an arm full of books after rifling through it. Went back to his car and then did it again," Petrie told NBC10.

"We would really like for this type of stuff to stop," Cohen said.

The couple believes the acts are targeted, in part due to the ongoing Waltham School District debate about whether to ban two library books with LGBTQ+ themes.

"The incident came on the same day the Waltham School Committee was set to discuss two LGBT books, 'Gender Queer: A Memoir' by Maia Kobabe and 'This Book is Gay' by Juno Dawson, that had been challenged to be removed from the Waltham High School Library. Both books are carried by the Little Queer Library," added Wicked Local.

"There's a lot of people that are up in arms and riled up about these queer books being available for the community and their children," Petrie said.

The couple want the man in the video and others like him to hear their message.

"You can't stop LGBT voices from being heard even if you take a few of our books, so please just stop," Petrie said.

Despite this setback, "the publicity garnered by the incidents has been a net-positive for the library. Cohen said the library has received more than 300 book donations from as far away as Australia, and the library has gotten more than $3,000 in donations to purchase more books in the future," reported Wicked Local.

"Since I posted about the incident on our social media pages, it has just blown up," Cohen said. "It has been frustrating and sad at times, but coming out of this, this has been much more positive, it has outweighed those negatives."

"Cohen said that while security has been increased, the point of the library is for it to be an available and judgment-free resource to anybody in the community, which puts a limit on how secure the library can be," Wicked Local said.

"We want the library to be a place where people are not nervous, and that they are not fearful about being filmed. We have a note that says we do have a security camera, but that we only look at the tape if [we] see vandalism or theft," Cohen said.