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Queer and Black authors are being targeted with racist, anti-LGBT+ hate on Goodreads

Lily Wakefield May 7, 2021
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Trans author Ian Thomas Malone and Black author Liara Tamani

Trans author Ian Thomas Malone and Black author Liara Tamani. (Instragam/ ianthomasmalone and Instagram/ liaratamani)

Queer, trans and Black authors have spoken out about being targeted with hateful abuse and troll reviews on Goodreads.

Speaking to the i, authors said that users who haven’t read their work are leaving one-star reviews and abusive comments, sometimes before their books have even been published.

Three authors spoke to the publication – Black young adult author Liara Tamani, LGBT+ romance author Kris Bryant and trans author Ian Thomas Malone.

Tamani said in 2019 she was bombarded with “every racist thing [she] could imagine” in a Goodreads review for her book All the Things We Never Knew, which hadn’t yet been published.

One user told her to “stop appropriating white culture”, which they said was “superior”.

The racist comments were eventually removed and while Tamani is reluctant to leave the platform, as its vital in connecting with her readers, she said that moderation and verification of reviews that Goodreads “needs to fix”.

The i found racism and transphobia in many reviews, including some misgendering Torrey Peters, author of Detransition, Baby.

Malone, a trans author, said that when she came out, negative Goodreads reviews began to roll in “with no substantive complaints that would lead any reasonable person to think the ‘reviewer’ had actually read the material”.

When Bryant also began receiving one-star reviews on her book which was still in the editing process, she knew she was being targeted.

The same user has left thousands of reviews, often giving low ratings for LGBT+ authors’ books, but when Bryant contacted Goodreads she said they told her: “After taking a careful look at the ratings, we found that they did not violate our terms so we won’t be able to take any action against them.”

In its community guidelines, Goodreads, which was acquired by Amazon in 2013, states that “hate speech, bigotry, threats, and ad hominem attacks are not tolerated”, and asks users not to “misrepresent your identity or create accounts to harass other members, abuse features, or evade our rules”.

However it has no explicit policy prohibiting racism, homophobia or transphobia.

Both Malone and Bryant told the i they have decided to leave the platform. Malone described Goodreads as “tainted”, and Bryant insisted queer authors were not “protected from somebody out to discredit our work based on our sexuality or sexual identity”.

PinkNews has approached Goodreads for comment.

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