Manchester City Library

Manchester, NH's Online Library

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Read with Pride

May 31st, 2019 · 1 Comment · Books, City Library, Grades 6-12, Main Branch, Teens

Last June, when the iconic rainbow flag was raised for the first time at city hall, Manchester had a moment.  It was hugely meaningful for me, not only for the LGBT+ community to be acknowledged, but to be celebrated.  This is something we continually need: more inclusion and acceptance. That’s the motivation behind the Read with Pride display, which is hopefully as loudly and unapologetically queer as I want it to be.

When I came out (the first time) as bisexual in the latter half of the 1990s, and was starting to find my community, my lesbian friends and I knew of one book that reflected our existence:  the 1982 classic Annie on My Mind.  With no disrespect to that book, was that really it?  Surely there had to be at least a handful of others, but was there any way to know?  If someone had created a GeoCities-hosted bibliography, I never found it, and I certainly wouldn’t have felt comfortable asking a librarian about it.  That makes me sad now, but honestly, how much would they have had to offer me even if I did ask?

We’ve come a long way since then, though this is true for some parts of the community more than others.  While not everyone is safe, many have started feeling free to live authentically. This community struggles to be brave, while also feeling vulnerable.  We’ve come a long way, but we’re not there yet.

One thing we can say for sure is that the LGBT+ community has achieved greater visibility (again, some parts more than others), and this is absolutely true with books.  Books are continually being released with characters that love or identify outside the norm. As the selector of young adult materials, watching the percentage of these titles grow has been an absolute joy.  I’ve curated a list of books that will be cycling through the display over the next two months, including adult and young adult titles—mostly fiction, but a few nonfiction titles that I think will appeal to both teens and adults.

If you’re heterosexual and cisgender, I encourage you to check out the display as well.  Perhaps you will find something you wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. Above all, these are stories—as expertly written and compelling as any other.  The library aims to build collections that reflect all types of diversity, as reading can be a gateway to greater understanding and empathy.

To the LGBT+ community:  Yes, this display is going up through pride month, but we are not going to forget about you the rest of the year.  This is more than an acknowledgement of your existence. The library is for everyone, and we are here for you. If there are books or other materials you are looking for, let us know.  If there are specific programs that could meet your needs, we want to hear from you. If we’re using the wrong pronouns, you can tell us. Or if you’d rather use the library anonymously, that’s great, too!  How you identify matters, but it also doesn’t matter, if that makes sense. Everyone is welcome here.

Yours truly,

Alex Graves
Teen Librarian and queer person
They/them pronouns

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