Why the LGBT Reader Has an Ally in their Local Library

Photo via Passport Magazine

Photo via Passport Magazine

In the struggle toward gender equality, it’s nice to know you have a friend in your local library.

This June, The American Library Association (ALA) and hundreds of libraries across the country, will turn a corner in the name of GLBT Book Month, honoring authors and works that give credence to the LGBT experience.

“We are pleased to continue our celebration of GLBT Book Month,” said ALA President Sari Feldman. “Libraries play a vital role in connecting people with information and resources, and librarians serve a critical need by making the works of authors and publishers of GLBT books available to the public. It is important that these voices be heard, and libraries not only provide a safe space for consumers of GLBT fiction and non-fiction, but a safe place on the shelves for authors serving a critical need in our society.”

Launched in the early 199os, GLBT Book Month is a combined effort of the ALA, met through its Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT). It’s a chance for readers to appreciate and honor the best of queer literature, and challenge themselves with new perspectives.

“Libraries are about everyone,” said GLBTRT Chair Peter Coyl. “We can create a welcoming environment for all by having a diverse collection of materials of varying viewpoints.  It is important for our users to be able to find books that match their lives and their experiences.  GLBT Book Month is not just about celebrating authors and writers who are GLBT, but about showcasing to our community that GLBT customers and families are welcomed and wanted in the Library.”

This June, the Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Gender Diversity, will put art by transgender youth on display in a unique exhibit, new to the Central library in downtown Seattle. The exhibit will then move to the Washington State Convention Center for this year’s Gender Odyssey Conference, from August 4-7.

“What I love about this exhibit is the teen voice,” said Duncan Gibbs, art coordinator for Seattle’s Gender Odyssey conference and an instructor who helps students exhibit their work. “The art is informed by the experience of being a teen as much as it is by being trans. The range of subject matter and styles reflects the individuality of the artists. The current bathroom debates hinge on ignorance and fear and a show like this can help. I feel humbled and proud at the same time to see these teens show up and take their place in their broader community, as teens, as transgender individuals, and as artists.”

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