Not Cis in LIS: A Roundtable Discussion about being Trans in Libraries

Read the BCLA Perspectives article here

From the article:

In this article, five transgender library workers share our perspectives on different workplaces and educational experiences. We discuss barriers we have faced, strengths we bring to libraries, requests for cis colleagues, and advice for other trans folks considering library work or school. The questions posed were prepared by Allison, and participants chose which to respond to independently.

Interview with Leigh Matthews

BCLA LGBTQ member Casey Stepaniuk brings us this great interview with Vancouver-based author Leigh Matthews. A big thank you to both Casey and Leigh!

A little while ago I talked with my friend and Vancouver-based author Leigh Matthews about her journey as a queer writer, her contemporary lesbian pulp series set in Vancouver, her must-have LGBTQ+ books, and what an LGBTQ+-friendly library looks like to her. Check out her website if you want to more information about her books and all the other cool stuff she does, including freelance medical writing and website development. I’ve reviewed her (awesome) books on my blog, if you want to check that out too. She had loads of interesting things to say, so here’s the interview!

1

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your career as a writer?

Aside from brief periods when I wanted to be a professional soccer player and a forensic pathologist, I always wanted to be a writer. I used to make up character profiles for the people who populated the childhood games I played with my brother. I would write stories about them, which then progressed into attempts at writing novels, peppered with a little poetry that was praised far too highly!

After being involved in a youth writing initiative in the UK in my late teens, I stopped writing for a little while, for a variety of reasons, including devaluing my creative nature. Then, when I moved to Canada in 2010 and started working as a freelancer, I made a commitment to myself to nurture that creativity and start writing fiction and poetry again. It took a while to clear out the creative pipes, and I found the challenge and boundaries of National Novel Writing Month very helpful in rediscovering the joy of writing with my inner editor turned off.

The novel that emerged from NaNoWriMo 2011 became The Old Arbutus Tree, my first full novel, published in 2012. I’ve tried to do NaNoWriMo every year since, and have also done the 3-Day Novel Challenge. These are such fun ways to just get the words down and get the story out. It’s so much easier to work with existing material than to stare at a blank page every day. And, seeing that word count ticking up every day is incredibly gratifying and has taught me to be less precious and more focused on pacing and plot as a scaffold for my work.

I’ve recently begun writing poetry again, but I mainly focus on novels and short stories, with some creative non-fiction. I am also a medical copywriter and journalist, which helps pay my bills and is a great way to learn new things and meet interesting people.

I’m really interested in people’s motivations – how others’ brains work and how they experience life. It’s such a privilege to work as a writer and have the time to get inside a character’s mind and create a realistic portrayal of someone who might think very differently to me. I think this is one of the reasons why readers have been found to have a higher degree of empathy than those who don’t read regularly. The ability to consider how someone else sees a situation and how they might respond to it is so important and yet we don’t teach it directly to children, we have to rely on literature to do that.

Do you think of yourself a “queer writer,” or as just a writer who happens to be queer?

I’ve identified as bisexual since I was a teenager, but only adopted a queer identity after moving to Canada. I feel like it’s a good fit for me in many ways, given my interest in shaking up standard forms of discourse and not just colouring outside the lines but questioning the very purpose and existence of those lines.

If you’re a queer, polyamory-inclined, vegan, feminist, immigrant, it’s all too easy for your accompanying bio to end up longer than the poem a journal wants to print. My queerness isn’t simply about my sexuality, though; for me, queer is more a verb than a noun, so it definitely influences my work as a writer.

For instance, I made a choice to self-publish my three novels (one of which is YA/NA) and one work of non-fiction. This was partly because I knew it would be difficult to get a contract with a good publisher, but also because I wanted to retain full creative control. I don’t like the idea of writing novel after novel that look exactly the same. Of course, self-publishing means I have to play the unfortunate game of respectability politics and am not eligible for a variety of awards or grants. Given that there are so few publishers willing to take a gamble on a new writer in a market seen as being small and difficult, I gather that this is rather a common source of ire for queer writers.

My queerness also has an impact on my work as a medical writer and journalist. Unless gender is central to the piece I’m writing, I do my utmost to be inclusive or to entirely avoid gendered terms. Instead, I aim to focus on biological facts so as not to exclude people who are trans, genderqueer, and/or intersex, and to avoid heteronormative and cisnormative assumptions.

So, yes, I absolutely think of myself as a queer writer.

2

The second book in your All Out Vancouver series came out earlier this year. Can you tell us about it? And what made you decide to set those books in a very recognizable Vancouver?

The books in the All Out Vancouver series are, in essence, the books that I wanted to read but that just didn’t exist. There’s a dearth of queer fiction that isn’t about coming out, and I wanted to go beyond that and write about people living their lives, be they bisexual, trans, genderqueer, and/or polyamorous. Thanks to increasing awareness and acceptance, many people now in their late twenties and thirties have been comfortably out for a long time and have been able to build chosen family and repair any rifts they might have had with their families of origin.

There’s a large queer community in Vancouver, which offers wonderful benefits but also some interesting politics to explore. I want to write about the community I know and love, with a dash of intersectionality and politics, but mostly just engaging stories about characters who readers can identify with or recognise in their own lives.

Go Deep is the second novel in the AOV series and was released in April 2016, following Don’t Bang the Barista!, which was released in October 2014. I’ll be sitting down to write the third in the series shortly, with plans to explore some of the newer characters more thoroughly while keeping in touch with the core characters who seem to have won over many readers.

3

What advice would you give to libraries looking to create meaningful, inclusive LGBTQ+ library collections? Are there any titles that you would consider must-haves?

There are so many fantastic lists now available online of LGBTQ+ books written by authors who themselves identify as LGBTQ+ (including those written by Casey!). I think Autostraddle, the Lesbrary, Book Riot, and other sites are a good starting point, especially for libraries looking for books by queer people of colour and trans folks whose small publishers may not have a large marketing budget.

I’d be happy to see librarians eschew bestseller lists when building collections as these lists are less an indication of what readers like and more a reflection of what straight, white, cis gender critics and publishers deem worthy of promoting. This is especially true for books written about LGBTQ+ folks by people who are straight and cis. While some of these books have literary merit, it’s important that priority is given to LGBTQ+ authors to tell our own stories.

It’s also nice to see libraries taking steps to highlight books that include diverse representations of bisexual characters and trans characters, as well as queer people of colour. The focus is normally so heavily on m/m romance or lesbian ‘chick-lit’ style narratives that it can be hard for other authors and books to find space on the shelves.

Lambda lists can also be helpful, especially now their award categories have expanded to include trans poetry and bisexual fiction.

As for must-have books, that’s a tricky one! Classics like The Colour Purple, Giovanni’s Room, The Well of Loneliness, The Price of Salt, Howl, and Rubyfruit Jungle might be considered essentials. Lesbian pulp fiction, such as by Ann Bannon, and books and plays like Confessions of a Mask, Dhalgren, Funny Boy, Blood Child, and The Normal Heart would help round out a collection. More recently, books by Shani Mootoo, Zoe Whittall, Michelle Tea, Maggie Nelson, David Levithan, and Vivek Shraya help build diversity. It’s so hard to choose!

What about making sure library spaces are LGBTQ+ friendly? What makes a space LGBTQ+ inclusive for you?

One thing I’ve noticed a lot in bookstores and libraries is how LGBTQ+ collections are typically sorted into ‘lesbian’ and ‘gay’ sections, with everything sort of lumped together as if LGBTQ+ is a genre. Having an LGBTQ+ section can be helpful for readers who are deliberately looking for these books, but I also think it essential to include books by or about LGBTQ+ people in general fiction or in the relevant genre sections of a library. This helps to avoid the ghettoization of these books, meaning that they make their way into the hands of new readers. It also helps out those people who might be nervous about standing in front of a giant ‘LGBTQ+’ sign.

On a more obvious note, having a rainbow decal somewhere visible can be very welcoming, and having all-gender washrooms is a must. Librarians themselves play a big part in making a space feel safe and welcoming, of course; educating staff to overcome any heteronormative and cisnormative assumptions about readers’ habits is essential. And, hiring librarians who have a good knowledge of LGBTQ+ books and who read diversely across genres means that it’s more likely readers will have a wider range of books recommended to them.

Not all writers like to do readings or books signings, but making space available to local authors who are LGBTQ+ and who want to hold an event can help, as can making sure to purchase local LGBTQ+ authors’ books. Hosting a queer book club, movie nights where the movie is based on an LGBTQ+ book, and taking part in Pride celebrations, Trans Visibility Day and Bi Awareness Day are also good ways to build community. Even creating a display of relevant books for such events can help library users feel safe and welcome in the space.

Author Interview: AM Leibowitz

We’re back with another great author chat, this time with AM Leibowitz, author, editor, reader and all-around awesome individual. A big thank you to Amara again for this great post!

lost

What are your favourite books featuring bisexual main characters?

AM Leibowitz: For young adult, I love Out of Order by Casey Lawrence. It’s told in an unusual style, using flashbacks. The main character’s bisexuality is central to the plot, but it’s not a coming out story.

For a male protagonist, I like Torque by Charley Descoteaux. There’s also an asexual character and a trans woman, and it’s a polyamory story.

For a female protagonist, Vow of Celibacy by Erin Judge is outstanding. It’s not a romance; it’s a work of literary fiction, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read this year.

In your opinion, what does positive bisexual portrayal in literature look like? What tropes need to be avoided?

AL: This is really subjective, but for me, I want a character who is well-rounded. I don’t want lip service paid to their bisexuality–I want it reflected in who they are as a person. It’s easy to fall into the trap of “all that’s required is for the character to identify as bisexual” yet then have them simply move through their world as though they were gay or straight, as though none of their experiences are unique to being bisexual. I’d like to see less focus on fitting bisexuals into gay or straight romance boxes and more emphasis on how we navigate being outside those lines.

As for tropes to avoid, I think gay-for-you is both biphobic and homophobic, and I’d like to see it avoided. It’s not reality–it’s a fantasy some people mistake for what it’s really like to come out or come to an awareness of attraction that isn’t straight. Other than that, it mainly depends on how well the author understands bisexuality as a complex identity rather than simply trying to avoid tropes.

What do you hope the future brings for bisexual books?

AL: I hope we see more bisexual authors writing specifically for our community rather than writing bi characters who fit into lesbian, gay, or straight paradigms. I also hope to see bisexual romance which doesn’t seem to be aimed at bisexual mythbusting for gay and straight folks. In general, I would love if gay, bi, and trans books were more geared toward the communities about which they are written. Lesfic has done this beautifully, being reclaimed from the straight male gaze. It’s time the rest of us could say the same.

Author Interview: Tess Sharpe

Tess Sharpe is the award-winning author of Far From You, which Kirkus called one of the best YA novels of 2014.

far

Nine months. Two weeks. Six days.

That’s how long recovering addict Sophie’s been drug-free. Four months ago her best friend, Mina, died in what everyone believes was a drug deal gone wrong – a deal they think Sophie set up. Only Sophie knows the truth. She and Mina shared a secret, but there was no drug deal. Mina was deliberately murdered.

Forced into rehab for an addiction she’d already beaten, Sophie’s finally out and on the trail of the killer—but can she track them down before they come for her?

Tess chatted with BCLA LGBTQ Interest Group member Amara Charters about bisexuality in literature, and shares her thoughts, hopes and ideas with us. A big thank you to both Tess and Amara!

What are your favourite books featuring bisexual main characters?

Tess Sharpe: One of my favorites is a book that is actually coming out next May, so look out for it! It’s Ashley Herring Blake’s HOW TO MAKE A WISH and it will make you laugh and cry and totally fall in love with the main couple. I also love Hannah Moskowitz’s NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED and everything the amazing Corinne Duyvis has written.

In your opinion, what does positive bisexual portrayal in literature look like? What tropes need to be avoided?

TS: I think the most positive portrayal is an honest portrayal that shows a bisexual character as a human being with flaws, hopes, dreams, strengths and weaknesses.

I don’t think any tropes should 100% be avoided, because I’m a big believer in subverting tropes. But if you are writing a bisexual main character, you must be very aware of the tropes in order to avoid or subvert them. You need to be well versed in how bisexual people are so stereotyped, both by the straight and LGBTQIA community and think deeply about why that is so. Only with this kind of contemplation will you be able to avoid hurt and instead, portray realistic experiences, some of which may seem “tropey” until you dismantle it within the narrative. You can have a bisexual character be the villain, for instance, but to make her a villain because of her bisexuality is wrong (and honestly, kind of lazy!) You can have a bisexual character sleep with more than one person in a book (I did!) but if you imply it’s because they’re bisexual–or have another character voice this opinion without getting called out by someone–that’s playing into the harmful “bisexual people are promiscuous” trope.

What do you hope the future brings for bisexual books?

TS: I would love to see more happy endings in LGBTQIA YA in general. A lot more love stories and Romances, just like the straight teens get in droves. More books where the LGBTQIA character has a community of LGBTQIA friends. And more genre books with bisexual characters in them. A bisexual lady can pilot a spaceship while romancing her first mate and saving the galaxy, after all! 

Lesbian fiction by Canadian authors, eh!

The fantastic team behind Canadian Lesfic kindly stopped by the BCLA LGBTQ Interest Group blog to talk about Canadian lesbian fiction, must-have lesbian titles for any library collection, fantastic resources and much, more! 

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First off, describe Canadian Lesfic in one sentence.  (answered by the group)

Canadian Lesfic showcases lesbian fiction by Canadian authors.

(Bonus sentence: If you’re a Canadian lesbian fiction author, please contact us through the contact page on the site. We’d love to list your lesbian fiction books.)

What exactly does Moose Hall mean?!  (answered by Benny Lawrence)

Canadian Lesfic came about because Henriette Meissner of Curve Reviews decided to bully us all in the most sweet and supportive way possible into getting on with it.  Think someone who demands that you run a marathon, and then shows up with cupcakes every day that you’re training, and runs behind you with a megaphone shouting compliments.  We suspect she might be a Canadian in secret.

While the site was under development, Henriette showered us with help, suggestions, and advice. But she made one demand, namely that we post a moose on our placeholder “Site Under Construction” page. We complied- it seemed only polite- and our flannel-clad moose became our semi-official mascot. Inevitably, since our site is created by raging nerds, the moose has a name, which is “Pamplemousse.”

We considered naming the site “Moose Hall” in honour of Pamplemousse, but we didn’t want people to mistake it for a very strange hunting lodge.

Who are the awesome people behind the scenes?  (answered by the group)

Liz Bugg: Liz schedules blog posts on the Canadian Lesfic site and is also a regular contributor. Based in Toronto, she writes novels (the award-winning Calli Barnow Series), short stories, and non-fiction.

Lois Cloarec Hart: Lois has been writing since 1999, and is published by Ylva Publishing, a German-based, internationally distributed company. She mostly sets her novels and short stories in Canada, and has had six novels and a collection of short stories published, as well as a dozen other short stories included in various anthologies.

Sarah Ettritch: Sarah writes science fiction, fantasy, and mystery stories with main characters who just happen to be lesbian. Some of Sarah’s stories have romantic plots or elements, but others don’t. When a story takes place in the real world, Sarah sets it in Canada (others are set in worlds she dreamed up). She lives in Toronto.

Benny Lawrence: Benny is the troublemaking one and she’s grateful that the rest of these nice and talented people haven’t thrown her out of a window quite yet. Her bad habits include advertising for the site with pictures of beavers in corsets, and disappearing from the Internet months on end while she pretends to be a mature and responsible lawyer in Toronto. She is reliably informed that she is strange and she writes about anything that interests her, from gay bondage pirates to post-apocalyptic Ontario.

Tracy Richardson: Tracey is the author of seven romance novels with Bella Books since 2008, including the popular Last Salute,No Rules of EngagementThe Candidate and The Campaign. She was a 2010 Lambda Literary finalist for No Rules and has been a finalist several times over for the Golden Crown Literary Society. In 2010, Tracey’s novel Side Order of Love won a first-place Rainbow Romance Award of Excellence by Rainbow Writers of America for contemporary romance with the Rainbow Writers of America.

Imagine you’re trapped on a desert island – what five books would you want to have with you?  (answered by Benny Lawrence)

1.) The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For, by Alison Bechdel.  It’s reading material!  It’s a security blanket!  It’s both!

2.) The Parable of the Talents, by Octavia Butler.  It’s a book I can re-read over and over, and when I’m tired of reading it, I can entertain myself by screaming in frustration about the fact that she never got a chance to write the third installment.

3.) The Collected Works of Dorothy Parker.  Because in a life or death situation, you can never have too much caustic wit.

4.) Fall on your Knees, by Ann-Marie Macdonald.  The first time I read this, I felt like I was reading for the first time, and everything was wonderful and new.

And finally:

5.) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken, but in a special edition, so it’s six foot tall and waterproof and you can use it as a boat.

How do you think Canadian lesbian fiction compares to the genre in other countries, in terms of output/success/market reach/diversity, etc.? (answered by Sarah Ettritch)

At Canadian Lesfic, we focus on lesbian fiction by Canadian authors, which doesn’t necessarily mean their books are published by Canadian publishers. Several of our authors are published by presses in other countries. Since our population is smaller than countries like the US and UK, we have fewer authors and produce fewer books. That aside, I don’t think there’s much difference in terms of output/success/etc. Every Canadian author can choose from among several viable publishing paths (or dabble in all of them!) and can market her books to the world. I’ve sold books to readers in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Australia, South Africa, and many other countries. The Internet has opened the world to us. It doesn’t matter where an author lives these days.

Who are some of the leading publishers that library staff should be keeping on eye on?  (answered by Lois Cloarec Hart)

Bella Books http://www.bellabooks.com/

Bold Strokes Books https://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/

Brisk Press http://www.briskpress.com/home.html

Bywater http://www.bywaterbooks.com/

Clover Valley Press http://www.clovervalleypress.com/

Intaglio Publications http://www.intagliopub.com/

New Victoria Publishers http://www.newvictoria.com/ (I’m not sure how active they are now, but they have an impressive back catalogue.)

Regal Crest http://www.regalcrest.biz/

Spinsters Ink www.spinstersink.com/ (This is an imprint of Bella Books.)

Ylva Publishing https://www.ylva-publishing.com/

Bella is not only a publisher of their own writers, they are partnered with, and distributors for a number of other lesbian and women’s fiction publishers. You can sign up for monthly e-mails on each publishers’ new releases, but Bella does a very good job of featuring releases from all of the major lesbian-focused publishers. You can find smaller publishers associated with Bella here: http://www.bellabooks.com/Browse-by-Publisher-cat.html

Additionally if the BC Library Association LGBTQ Group is interested in audio versions of LGBTQ stories, Bold Strokes had a number of their books available through Audible http://www.audible.com and Bella, too, has some audio books available at http://www.bellabooks.com/audio-cat.html

Do you think the emergence of self-publishing has impacted the world of Canadian lesbian fiction, or LGBTQ fiction in general? (answered by Sarah Ettritch)

Absolutely. Not only has it allowed more writers to bring their stories to readers, but it has improved the diversity of what’s available, which means more choice for readers. There are downsides. The quality of some self-published books is questionable (though the definition of quality is subjective), and the deluge of books can cause good books to languish. But overall, the emergence of self-publishing is having a positive impact on Canadian lesbian fiction and LGBTQ fiction in general, for both readers and writers. Readers have more choice, and writers have another viable publishing route.

What are some must-have titles or authors that you think every library should have in their lesbian fiction collection? (answered by Lois Cloarec Hart)

This is a purely subjective list, and I won’t feature those already on our site, though that’s an excellent starting point for Canadian lesbian fiction of all genres. The authors listed below are ones I trust for an entertaining, well-written read, and in cases where there is one of their books or series that particularly stands out, I’ll note that.

Abbot, Erica (mostly mystery/romance) – Her Fragmentary Blue is a stand-out.

Ames, Lynn (romance) – All that Lies Within is outstanding.

Aptaker, Ann (mystery) – Criminal Gold & Tarnished Gold Deservedly award-winning.

Baker, L.J. (humour/fantasy) Fun reads.

Beers, Georgia (romance) – solid and consistent writer. Her 96 Hours about the Gander aircraft diversions on 9/11 is not to be missed.

Benson, G. (romance) – Reliably entertaining.

Bramhall, Andrea (romance) – Nightingale and Clean Slate are particularly good.

Culpepper, Cate (paranormal/romance) – Sadly gone now, but her A Question of Ghosts is outstanding.

DeLancey, Fletcher (science fiction) – Excellent writer, another award winner.

Fletcher, Jane (fantasy) – Anything she’s written.

Forrest, Katherine V. (mystery and science fiction) – rightly esteemed for her Kate Delafield mystery series and her science fiction novels. She is a grande dame in the lesbian fiction world and renowned as writer, editor and mentor. Has won numerous awards and her Curious Wine is a classic of the genre.

Garden, Nancy (YA LGBT) –no library is complete without Garden’s classic Annie On My Mind.

Hill, Gerri (romance and paranormal) – prolific and skilled writer of engaging stories. Would recommend in particular At Seventeen.

Hunter, Cari (suspense) – Snowbound outstanding.

Jae (historical/mystery/romance/speculative) – very talented writer. Her shape-shifter series, an allegory of LBGT life in America, is particularly good.

Jordan, Jennifer L. (mystery) – Her Kristin Ashe mysteries are excellent.

Kallmaker, Karin (romance/science fiction/fantasy) – Another award-winning grande dame of the lesbian fiction field. You cannot go wrong with any of her books, but particularly recommend Touchwood and its sequel,Watermark. Kallmaker doesn’t shy away from putting her readers through an emotional tsunami.

King, Laurie R. (mystery) Though not as well known as her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, King’s Kate Martinelli lesbian mystery series is excellent.

Lake, Lori L. (mystery/romance/historical/short stories) Highly recommend Snow Moon Rising.  The “Gun” series, Ricochet in Time, and Different Dress are also excellent reads.

Lane, KE (romance) – As far as I know this author has only published And Playing the Role of Herself, but she really hit it out of the park with this one.

MacGregor, KG (romance) – reminds me of Karin Kallmaker for enduring excellence. Can’t recommend just one because I’ve enjoyed everything she’s written.

MacPherson, Helen (romance) Not a prolific writer, but the three books she has written are engaging reads.

Martin, Marianne K (romance/literary) Beautiful writing, particularly Tangled Roots and Under the Witness Tree. Another stalwart of the lesfic community, who has won the GCLS Trailblazer award.

McCoy, Robbi (romance) Always a solid writer. Outdid herself with Two on the Aisle, a hilarious romp.

McMan, Ann (romance) Dust and Jericho are outstanding.

Meagher, Susan X (romance) I prefer her stand-alones, though her early San Francisco series is good, as well. Of particular note, Arbor Vitae and The Reunion.

Moran, Sandra (literary romance) Another author we lost too soon. Letters Never Sent was particularly touching.

Norris, Bett (literary romance) Miss McGhee and What’s Best for Jane are excellent.

Paynter, Chris (romance) Survived by her Longtime Companion is outstanding.

Perkinson, Ruth (general lesbian fiction) You can’t go wrong with any of her books, but Mystic Market is particularly good.

Redmann, JM (mystery) Her Mickey Knight series, set in New Orleans before and after Hurricane Katrina is engrossing reading.

Robinson, Pol (romance) Her debut novel, Open Water, was excellent.

Rowlands, CP (romantic intrigue) All her books are good, but Lake Effect Snow is excellent.

Saracen, Justine (historical) All of her work is well written and meticulously researched. The Witch of Stalingrad stands out.

Scoppettone, Sandra (mystery) Her Lauren Laurano series sparkles.

Sims, Elizabeth (mystery) Her Lillian Byrd mysteries are fabulous, funny, and fun to read.

Vali, Ali (speculative, romance, mystery) Her Balance of Forces and The Dragon Tree Legacy are excellent.

Watts, Julia (romance, YA, paranormal) Sets her wonderful novels in the Deep South.  Wildwood Flowers andFree Spirits are particular favourites.

Werlinger, Caren (historical, lesbian general fiction) It’s hard to settle on just one of her books as a favourite, but Miserere is amazing.

Wilson, Catherine M. (fantasy) Her When Women Were Warriors trilogy is outstanding.

Winter, Lee (romantic suspense) Her debut novel, The Red Files is not to be missed.

What are your thoughts on the state of diversity in Canadian lesbian fiction (women of colour, women with disabilities, women from different countries/cultures, etc.)? (answered by Liz Bugg)

Female writers continue to fight an uphill battle within what is still a male-dominated literary world, even in Canada. If the female writer happens to be a lesbian, she’s at more of a disadvantage. If she is a woman of colour, has a disability, or is from a different culture, her struggle is compounded. Nevertheless, support and recognition are starting to improve, particularly in the larger cities. In recent years I have witnessed a much higher visibility for women writers of colour and those from different cultures, but unlike the visual arts scene, disabled women writers seem to lack a collective voice. Fortunately web-based resources such as the Facebook’s Diverse Canadian Writers do exist, and this year Brampton’s Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD) had a successful beginning. The Ontario Arts Council also includes deaf artists, artists of colour, and artists with disabilities as a priority group for literary grants.

Most of these opportunities for exposure and support, however, are not focussed on lesbian or LGBTQ writers. There are venues (again I am speaking from a Toronto perspective) that foster diversity in the widest sense while at the same time promoting queer writers. Two leaders in this area are the Brockton Writers Series and Glad Day Bookshop. It’s not that Canada lacks lesbian fiction writers of colour, with disabilities, or from different countries or cultures, it’s just that we need to make more of an effort to find them, read them, and spread the word. These writers offer unique perspectives on the world, and their words can enrich us all.

Can you share any resources that might help library staff stay up to date on LGBTQ literature?(answered by Liz Bugg)

All of the resources listed below are available on the Internet. Many of them have come to my attention over the years due to personal contact (reviews of my books, interviews, readings etc.).

Canadian – General:

– Glad Day Bookshop, Toronto, http://www.gladdaybookshop.com/

– Indie presses that publish LGBTQ authors (Arsenal Pulp Press, Caitlin Press, Insomniac Press & others)

– Literary festivals that might include an LGBTQ component (i.e. The Word on the Street)

– Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, https://caseythecanadianlesbrarian.wordpress.com/

– University libraries (special collections)

LGBTQ Publications – Canadian

Plenitude Magazine, http://plenitudemagazine.ca/

The Daily Xtra, http://www.dailyxtra.com/

Wayves, http://www.wayves.ca/

Outwords, http://outwords.ca/?s=books

Non- LGBTQ Publications that frequently include reviews of LGBTQ books – Canadian

The Walrus, http://thewalrus.ca/digital-edition/?gclid=CN-XpNGGl88CFcYehgod4m4BHg

Taddle Creek, http://www.taddlecreekmag.com/

Broken Pencil, http://www.brokenpencil.com/

Huffington Post Canada, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/

This Magazine, https://this.org/

American or International:

– Goodreads (many LGBTQ  groups)

– LAMBDA Literary, http://www.lambdaliterary.org/

– Golden Crown Literary Society, http://www.goldencrown.org/

– American Library Association, http://www.glbtrt.ala.org/overtherainbow/archives/546

The Advocate, http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2015/04/06/18-must-read-lgbt-books-we-missed-last-year

A big, big, BIG thank you to the amazing team at Canadian Lesfic for generously sharing some of their incredible knowledge with us here at the BCLA LBGTQ Interest Group! For more information, be sure to check out their website

Member Profile : Amara Charters

12366059_10153769149266798_9041897186378216174_oHello everyone! My name is Amara, and I’m an auxiliary Library Technician for the Vancouver Public Library. I graduated from the Langara Lib Tech program in 2014 and started at VPL in January 2015. I mainly work at the Central Library in Children’s and Teens Services, but can occasionally be found out at a branch. Mostly I work the information desk, but sometimes I get to help with programs. My girlfriend is a shelver and LAII at VPL, and it’s fun to work together sometimes.

My dream career move is to permanently work in Children’s and Teens Services. My library passion is Queer and Trans YA, and I would love to somehow work with queer and trans, homeless, and/or mentally ill youth. I was probably a social worker in another life.

I also volunteer with the YWCA with their Welcome to My Life program, an eight week after school program for Grade 7 girls that helps them in the transition to high school. It covers such topics as internet safety, nutrition, and healthy relationships.

In my spare time I embroider (I’ve even got an etsy shop) and watch a lot of Netflix. I live with my sister, two cats, and a one-eared hamster.