Surrey Libraries is hosting its first ever Rainbow Family Storytime! It’s sure to be a lot of fun!
Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time: An Indigenous LGBT Sci-Fi Anthology (edited by Hope Nicholson) was suggested to me by a co-worker and I was thrilled when I heard the premise – stories that sit in the middle of a Venn diagram of science fiction, Indigenous, and queer themes. Hitting even two of the three at a time is impressive, but the stories are also mostly Canadian (!) and some are even femme-centric (!!!). There are big names like Richard Van Camp and new voices like Gwen Benaway, and all contributing authors are Indigenous.
Each story varies considerably as to how heavily sci-fi, queer, or Indigenous themed it is and I didn’t feel like any aspects were forced into the stories. I read a lot of science-fiction short stories and I find the genre, like some queer fiction, thrives in short story format because the length means some exposition has to be eradicated. Concepts like interplanetary travel or gender transition are not new things for the narrator, so the story and the characters are able to shine.
Colonization and objectification of bodies are common themes in Indigenous and queer literature, but also in science fiction. Notions of Indigenous nationhood and identity tend to be framed historically rather than in the future tense, and it was refreshing to read such explicit depictions of Indigenous characters outside of stereotypical environments. When you actually read the words of Indigenous or queer (or both!) people, there is both a universality of emotion as well as insights that you will not get with non-Indigenous or non-queer writers. Love is beyond stereotypes as well as body, space, and time.
Stand-outs for me were: Perfectly You, by David A. Robertson, Legends Are Made, Not Born, by Cherie Dimaline Néle, by Darcie Little Badger, Transitions, by Gwen Benaway, and Valediction at the Star View Motel, by Nathan Adler. I would have happily read a full length novel of Néle, and Transitions is a stand-out introduction to Gwen Benaway.
Some similar titles to seek out are: Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature (various contributors), Walking the Clouds: an anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction (edited by Grace L. Dillon) and mitêwâcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling (edited by Neal Mcleod)
Ginny Landry is Métis and Swedish, and does library work on Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh territories in the Lower Mainland of BC.
Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity. She lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and it’s her dream to one day become the hotel’s in-house detective. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, together they utilize her smarts, skills and connections to solve the mystery…even if it means getting into a drag race, solving puzzles or chasing a helicopter to do it!
New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning writer Hope Larson and artist Brittney Williams present the newest gal sleuth on the block with Goldie Vance, an exciting whodunnit adventure that mixes the fun of Eloise with the charm of Lumberjanes.
Clamoring for more female-led graphic novels (that don’t involve superheroes)? Missing Veronica Mars and her crime-solving crew? Longing for some Florida sunshine? Then get your hands on a copy of Goldie Vance, stat! This fun, colourful, exciting mystery romp has a bit of everything – humour, adventure, danger, friendship, romance, betrayal, and a spunky young heroine with both brains and bravery.
Goldie is a heroine readers just can’t help falling in love with – she’s smart and sassy, but also down-to-Earth and extremely likeable. Goldie knows what she wants out of life (to be a detective), and she’s willing to put in the hard work to make that happen. She has great relationships with her friends and her divorced parents, and readers will thrill along with Goldie as she grows closer to her beautiful crush, Diane.
Goldie Vance is such an important book because it presents a lesbian relationship in a refreshingly no-nonsense way. Goldie feels no angst or anguish over her feelings for Diane, and the relationship is handled with the same sweetness as any of the other relationships in the book. It’s so refreshing for young people to be able to see a strong, confident lesbian (or potentially bisexual – Goldie’s sexuality isn’t the primary focus of the text) protagonist being the star of her own show, and having her own sweet, romantic plot-line, completely with adorable blushes.
Goldie is also a biracial character, which adds another welcome layer of diversity.
The retro setting is a lot of fun, with vibrant pops of colour, cute clothes, and gorgeous cars making this feel like a sort of modernized interpretation of Grease, but this time with a clever biracial lesbian girl detective as our lead character!
Lots of fun for tween/teen/adult readers, Goldie Vance is a hero for the modern age, with vintage style but refreshingly modern sensibilities.
As informational professionals, one of our most powerful roles is as referral specialists, connecting patrons with resources, organizations and professionals that can provide the specialized help and support we cannot.
For LGBTQ+ patrons, finding medical information that is both reliable and respectful can unfortunately be challenging. Fortunately there are specialized online and in-person resources designed specifically to meet the medical needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are just a few health-related resources designed to serve the LGBTQ+ community.
“The National LGBT Health Education Center provides educational programs, resources, and consultation to health care organizations with the goal of optimizing quality, cost-effective health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.” This American organization offers free publications, webinars, and a list of recommended reading and resources, both for individuals and for organizations that support better health for LGBTQ+ patients.
Rainbow Health Care was designed to meet “the need to do more research to document, understand, and address the various factors that contribute to health disparities in the LGBT community.” It offers articles and recommended resources. Examples of valuable articles include “10 Things Transgender Individuals Should Discuss with Their Healthcare Provider”, and “Lesbian and Bisexual Health Fact Sheet”.
Looking for an organization or resource in British Columbia? Links to more than 10 organizations have been aggregated into a single listing, making it quick and easy to refer patrons to valuable services and information.
The “Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is responsible for the provincial coordination of transgender health services in BC. The Transgender Health Information Program (THiP) is a BC-wide information hub providing information about gender affirming care and supports.”
This non-profit organization works “to provide low-barrier wellness services to transgender and gender non-conforming people in a way that is respectful and celebratory of clients’ identity and self-expression.”
“HIM involves and engages gay men to improve foundations of their physical, sexual, social and mental health through research-based, community-minded, volunteer-driven activities. Their materials and programs are for adults and deal with gay sexuality positively and explicitly.”
OPT clinics “offer sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education from a feminist, pro-choice, sex positive perspective.” While not specifically directed towards LGBTQ+ individuals, the organization is committed to inclusive, confidential, sex-positive health information for all British Columbians.
In addition to being a valuable resource for LGBTQ+ individuals in the Lower Mainland, Qmunity offers a referral service that can help connect patrons to other information and service providers.
Are there any great physical health resources we should add to the list?
You Belong is a weekly, ongoing, after-school drop-in program designed and facilitated by Toronto Public Library Youth Services Librarian Sepideh Mckensy to provide an inclusive and welcoming space for LGBTQ+ young people in the suburbs outside Toronto. The group host one creative LGBTQ+ guest speaker or fabulously fun event every month. Youth get the opportunity, along with their peers, to select and plan the events, create displays, design fliers and be a part of the promotion. This is an opportunity for youth with shared values to network, have fun and make a difference!
In terms of a general overview, the program is structured so that each month the group works towards hosting one big event or guest speaker. The youth work together to prepare for this event or speaker, advertise, put up displays in the library, prepare decoration and plan.
Some examples of events the group has organized include:
An LGBTQ+ Film festival – in partnership with the local LGBTQ+ film organization Inside Out the group showed films all month long.
Queer Prom (Food, dancing, balloons)
(Here is a link for the local newspaper article they did on this event
In Toronto most LGBTQ+ organizations are located downtown, so the group makes an effort to get all those organizations to come out to a more suburban branch and do satellite programming or guest speaking engagements where they talk about their organizations, so that all those that cannot travel downtown or that never even knew they existed can be better connected.
This type of programming can take a long time to get off the ground – facilitators need to build trust in youth. It can be hard for word to get around since advertising can be tricky, and it’s important not to “out” youth or put them in unsafe situations. But after a year the group has see a huge increase in stats – almost 20 youth came out to the Queer Prom. As for all teen programming attendance can be up and down, but the group went from zero youth to 7 consistent members, and many more come in and out. You Belong really is a platform for youth to feel safe, connect with other youth just like them and be better educated on topics that relate to them. Mentorship is key, and participants have really found the guest speakers to be inspiring.
The facilitator always starts each session with a round table introduction, including preferred pronouns, and giving teens a chance to talk about how their week has been, and their ups and downs. Then they move on to a group discussion – sometimes they’ll talk about something going on in the world, or something closer to home that concerns them. Then they start to plan or prep for an event or program. Here and there they add fun things like field trips and parties.
Group facilitator Sepideh has very kindly and generously offered to answer any questions library staff might have to help libraries in other provinces start their own LGBTQ+ youth groups, saying
“Let me know if you have any questions and if I can help in any other way. I commend you in BC for starting up programs like this and taking the initiative to take on this challenge. As difficult it may be with many obstacles it is so rewarding and so very much necessary. I hope one day programs of this nature are as common place as any other programs that librarians conduct.”
A massive thank you to Sepideh for sharing this valuable information!
For more information on You Belong, visit Sepideh’s post on the American Library Association’s Programming Librarian blog.
Does your library offer LGBTQ+ programs for youth, seniors, or any other demographic! Sharing is caring, so help your colleagues across the province better serve their patrons by sharing your knowledge and experiences!
Thinking about starting a Queer/Straight Alliance or LGBTQ+ club for youth at your public library? Here are just a few public libraries across North America who are offering similar programs, and might be great resources and contacts for further information.
Do you know of a great program we missed? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!
You Belong @ Your Library: LGBTQ+ & Allies Youth Group – Toronto Public Library
Have you always wanted to be an ambassador for equality and empowerment in your community? Come join us to celebrate the unique and diverse LGBTQ+ youth of our community. In this WEEKLY youth alliance we will engage, lead and impact in inspiring ways in our library. We will host one creative LGBTQ+ guest speaker every month. You will get the opportunity along with a team of youth just like you to plan for the event, create displays, design flyers and promote these amazing LGBTQ+ events.
Get involved and let’s make a difference!
Queer Straight Alliance – Surrey Libraries
This program is for teens ages 13-19.
If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, questioning, two-spirited, or an ally, this program is for you.
Come join us for games, crafts, movie nights, and discussions! Network with other Gay-Straight Alliances in the Surrey area. This will be a safe, positive, and friendly space. Snacks included.
Library QSA – Prince George Public Library
The Library QSA is a safe space for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-Spirited, Queer, Questioning, Straight teens and teens with LGBTQ families. Teen friends and allies are welcome. Open to all people in grades 8-12 in Prince George.
Community QSA – Lethbridge Public Library (Alberta)
Looking for a safe space? Want to support LGBTQA rights?
We meet in the Community Meeting Room of the Main Branch at 7:00pm.
You can also connect with the group on Facebook.
Rainbow Community – Longview Public Library (Washington State)
Rainbow Community is an inclusive and safe group for LGBTQ+ teens and allies. Hang and be yourself! We have games and craft supplies available and occasionally show movies, host guest speakers, and have parties.
Rainbow Community meets every Monday the library is open in the library auditorium.
The winners of the 2017 ALA Stonewall Book Awards were announced at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago, and the list of winners is truly inspirational!
Barbara Gittings Literature Award
Desert Boys, by Chris McCormick (New York: Picador); ISBN: 9781250075505
Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award
Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor, by Rick Riordan (Los Angeles: Disney-Hyperion); ISBN: 9781423160922
- If I Was Your Girl, by Meredith Russo (New York: Flatiron Books); ISBN: 9781250078407
Stonewall Honor Books in Literature
- Beautiful gravity: a novel, by Martin Hyatt (New York: ANTIBOOKCLUB); ISBN: 9780997592306
- Dig, by Bryan Borland (Fairfax, Virginia: Stillhouse Press); ISBN: 9780990516989
- Guapa, by Saleem Haddad (New York: Other Press); ISBN: 9781590517697
- Hide: a novel, by Matthew Griffin (New York: Bloomsbury USA); ISBN: 9781632863386
Stonewall Honor Books in Non-Fiction
- Not straight, not white: black gay men from the march on Washington to the AIDS crisis, by Kevin J. Mumford (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press); ISBN: 9781469626840
- One-man show: the life and art of Bernard Perlin, by Michael Schreiber (Berlin: Bruno Gmünder GmbH); ISBN: 9783959850186
- Rethinking sexism, gender, and sexuality, edited by Annika Butler-Wall, Kim Cosier, et. al. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Rethinking Schools); ISBN: 9780942961591
- Tomboy Survival Guide, by Ivan E Coyote (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press); ISBN: 9781551526560
Stonewall Honor Books in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
- When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Griffin); ISBN: 9781250058669
- Unbecoming, by Jenny Downham (New York: David Fickling Books/Scholastic Inc.); ISBN: 9780545907170
- Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community, by Robin Stevenson (Victoria, British Columbia: Orca Book Publishers); ISBN: 9781459809932
Robin Stevenson is a B.C.-based author who has been interviewed here on the blog before, and we’re beyond thrilled for her! Congratulations, Robin, on this well deserved award!!
You can also read Rick Riordin’s moving acceptance speech here.