This is why Representation in Literature Matters.
Hey everybody! Ttoday, let’s do something different! [musical interlude] So in celebration of Pride Week, I wanted to give y’all a tour of the LGBT2QIA+ library here at UBC. Because it’s run by volunteers and because I have a card for it And because it’s pretty wicked cool. So I was very fortunate in that I got to sit down with one of the volunteers who is sitting there on this beautiful Saturday and ask them a few questions, and they were super kind — enough to let me actually see what’s going on and give me some of their perspective from the library. So let’s have a look! Honestly, it’s pretty quiet here volunteering on the weekends. But it is like something I really look forward to, like I have a really busy week But then like I know like Saturday I have like my shift at the library. I come here, I do a couple things on the computer and then like I kind of just grab Any book I see and go. So I think so far during my shifts I’ve read like seven or eight books that I like probably would never had the chance to like pick up otherwise. So I think I found out about on the shelves through Facebook. I just saw like a random kind of like Someone I knew was attending the event and I thought oh, well, I’m really interested in library studies I’m really interested in being queer and To combine those kinds of things, I was like I have to go to this opening party! This library had been in the nest for a while But hadn’t actually like made a huge announcement that they had moved there So I thought like what’s a better opportunity to come check it out, when like there’s gonna be food and like games stuff like that? So kind of from there I noticed like they weren’t open on weekends But weekends were kind of the only day I’m able to make it out to UBC. So from there, I asked KC — one of the co coordinators along with Cinders — and “Are you accepting volunteers right now? Like I’d love to help out,” and she’s actually — she actually said that, [laughs] “yeah we were dying for someone to come Volunteer on weekends.” Yeah, and that’s kind of it started. At the party! cool Peter: Cool! was that the grand opening party? Kiko: Mm-hmm It’s been like an awesome experience. I think working with the other volunteers and meeting the other volunteers as in, like other queer people who are interested in it, like library stuff and book stuff like it’s been sweet just like talking and collaborating, and… Well, honestly, like just making new friends. Peter: Would you say that out on the shelves has affected your ability to find queer lit[erature]? Kiko: Oh yeah, like it’s all just in one space it’s — and like Just along with the like the values of the space: like they’re kind of like values and mission statement of being like an anti-oppressive library as well as a queer library. Like I think that’s really helped in like choosing the books I’ve wanted to read. Like, my past experience with libraries has been like oh that would be like a little pride section and like like most of the books will have like maybe one queer character, and they’re usually like a like a gay man or like a like a lesbian — but like nothing really else besides that and it’s representation that comes from like authors that probably don’t identify as queer? Like, it’s been a really limited experience for me so to be in like a space where, like, you kind of know like a book that you pick out will be like… I’ll be like good, you know, like really great representation. I think that’s been, it’s awesome that this place exists. Yeah. Peter: What have you read recently that stood out? Kiko: Oh, well, actually Hannah’s got the book right now It’s, um, Two-Spirit Acts. So that’s queer indigenous performances. So it’s I think of it like an anthology of five plays all by like authors and artists who, like, identify as two-spirit and, like other kind of aspects of being queer. It’s all like really like unique performances, like stuff that’s performed like travelling performances; Stuff that’s like for schools. like, meant to be performed for high schoolers. The other kind of like three plays in the middle are by a drag queen named Miss Chief, who like kind of subversifies our current extent– understanding of like what it means to be indigenous, or like what their lives are like. Like, he does this one play where he’s like Miss Chief and he’s doing a seance where he brings back, like, colonial artists who used to paint indigenous people, or like write about them, and he kind of like interviews them, and they go on long rants and like some… well really really bad for one that really stood out to me. Like, I’ve actually have never read anything by like a queer or two-spirit person before, so to see their work highlighted all in one book, that was a really awesome find, yeah! We’re doing like a little display over in the library that highlights, it’s both Pride Month and Indigenous History Month right now. So we’re kind of like merging the two together for our library display. I guess I was always kind of interested in like well, yeah, I would I go to library I like go to a specific section to like find a book I wanted. But I think when I started volunteering here And we kind of like did our orientation, I never really thought about like how they choose categories — who makes the categories and like who decides like what goes in what section or whatever? Like, Casey actually was telling me about how they wanted to — there’s a movement to kind of redefine a lot of the categories that have to do with LGBTQ because a lot of them are really like generalized, kind of homophobic, kind of transphobic, and use like very colonial identities that don’t really match some of the books that are in the library. And I’ve never thought about that before. Like as soon as she said it I knew — like I knew what she was talking about, but I never thought that they could be wrong, you know? Like the systems. Yeah, so that kind of changed my perspective in a tiny way. It’s cool here! [laughs] That’s all I can really think up I hope it can like really expand in the future, like um like yeah — we’re in the space and like, it’s had a really long history of starting in someone’s… someone’s basement really, and being in a couple boxes to like having shelves and like having books and categories on the wall… I can only hope it just like grows bigger and bigger, maybe gets its own permanent like building, right? Yeah. I’m really looking forward to seeing it grow… Alright y’all and it wouldn’t be a video of me talking about books without giving a book recommendation! So I wanted to recommend this excellent anthology. It’s called Freedom in This Village, compiled by E. Lynn Harris, so basically what this book is is it’s a compilation of short stories By black men who were alive during the 70s and 80s It is Really powerful and super important, because, like as a white man, I don’t really have any experience of what it’s like being black, especially not being black and queer where there’s a certain element of intersectionality there that I can’t experience. And so reading through it and getting a feel for what people felt and what peopleexperienced is super important And so… if you notice, it’s got a little barcode stickers because I donated this book to the library. I only need to read it once, and I think other people should have exposure to it as well! Which is why it’s in the library now. Plus, I mean, it’s in the library. So if I want to read it again, I can always come back! Yeah And then besides that I think I’d I have another book at home that I recommend… If I do, It’ll appear here through the magic of editing! Hey y’all! So I mentioned that there was another book I wanted to recommend and it is this one: The Mayor of Castro Street, by Randy Shilts, and this is an excellent book about the history of the Castro Street and specifically Harvey Milk, who had become the unofficial mayor of Castro Street. He was politician in San Francisco in the sixties Question mark? Back when being gay was still not all that great Especially — or, not just in San Francisco — and explaining some of the history behind why the Castro became what the Castro is, which is Fabulous! So if you have a chance, track this book down. Again, I’ll put a link to it as well in the description to its Biblio guide, er… I’ll put a link to its WorldCat entry so that you can find a copy near you. Okay, ah….Bye!