Missouri Republican candidate Valentina Gomez has claimed she is being “censored” after a video of her burning LGBTQ+ books with a flamethrower was removed from Instagram.
The video, posted on Tuesday (6 February), showed the candidate for Missouri secretary of state taking a blowtorch to a pile of LGBTQ-inclusive books, which she described using the offensive term “groomer”.
“This is what I will do to the grooming books when I become secretary of state,” Gomez said in the video, which is still live on Twitter/X and tagged with “MAGA” and “America First”.
“These books come from a Missouri public library. When I’m in office, they will burn.”
The two books she set on fire in the video appear to be Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens, and Naked: Not Your Average Sex Encyclopedia.
The video has reportedly been taken down from Instagram, with Gomez commenting: “Just got censored and deleted on Instagram.”
She added: “I will say it again, there’s three things I trust: The Bible, X – thank you Elon Musk, and my AR-15. America First.”
Kathy Belge, one of the authors of Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens, told NBC News that Americans should be “concerned” that a candidate for public office would believe burning books is an acceptable way to try to get elected.
“My book… was written to give teens accurate and helpful information about what it means to be part of the LGBTQ community,” Belge told the outlet.
“We discuss important issues that teens face, like coming out, bullying, dating and finding community and support. And yes, dealing with haters like this political candidate.
“I suggest this candidate leave queer kids alone and focuses instead on the real issues that will make lives of people in Missouri better.”
In a statement to NBC News, Maicoll Gomez, Valentina Gomez’s campaign director, added: “You want to be gay? Fine, be gay. Just don’t do it around children.”
Maicoll Gomez added that their campaign is “against all drag shows around children, Pride flags in classrooms, teachers with pronouns, people wanting to ‘change’ genders, and people that can’t even define what a woman is.”
Valentina Gomez’s stunt follows a disturbing trend of LGBTQ+-inclusive books and authors being banned or restricted from schools and public libraries across the US in recent years.
A report from the American Library Association documented a total of 1,269 attempts to ban or censor 2,571 titles in the years of 2022/2023, with most incidents dealing with books with LGBTQ+ themes or themes of race or racism.
Texas was named as the state banning the most books, with 93 attempts to restrict over 2,300 titles during this time period.
LGBTQ+ authors have attempted to hit back against this wave of book banning, with British trans author Juno Dawson describing book bans as an “organised attack” by the far-right.
“What we’re seeing now is a really organised attack on books because the far-right is out of ideas. What else can you attack but trans healthcare, drag queens, books,” the author of This Book Is Gay said.
“So I just want to say a huge thank you to all the librarians and educators who are defend ending freedom of speech and the right for young LGBTQ+ people to see themselves in books. Stand strong in full solidarity.”