This article first appeared in Queensland Pride Magazine, Issue 354, 07th November 2014. My thanks to Anthony Smith for making it possible.
This issue we hear from Queer Reader’s long-term facilitator Robert D. about how the group started and what’s in store for the future.
Queer Readers (or QR) is a community group which has been going since November 2007 when it held its inaugural meeting at New Farm Library.
“I was motivated to start the group as I have always had a love of reading and thought a LGBTIQ book-club would be a great idea,” says Robert, QR’s facilitator. “The librarian at the time, Pam Fisher, was very supportive and organized availability for us in the meeting room and we kicked of regular meetings in January 2008. We haven’t looked back since.”
The aim of QR is to encourage people to not only read but also to widen their reading interests.
“I always think there are so many distractions these days that prevent people from reading books. There’s the internet and all sorts of social media, and that’s fine,” agrees Robert. “But, for me, immersing myself in a book takes me to other worlds and life experiences; I don’t think you can beat that. During the time we have been meeting it has been interesting to gauge the impact of ebooks – people are, I guess, reading more than ever, but in different ways. We don’t expect our members to buy the books on the reading list, so I try to pick titles that are readily available from libraries, and I would like to acknowledge the role that the Brisbane City Council Library Service has played in this. I have been encouraging our members to dip into the free e-book collection available through the library catalogue (just google Elibcat). It’s a wonderful resource and we are lucky to have it.”
Queer Readers, like any good community group, apart from operating as a book club, provides a valuable social and networking role.
“I hope, in its own small way, QR can make a positive difference to people,” says Robert. “Many friendships have flourished over the years and I, for one, really value that. It is a safe and relaxed environment to meet new people who share a love of reading. We have a mixture of ages and sexes. I feel it is important that the group is welcoming to all in our community and we make a sincere effort to make new members feel included.”
In January Queer Readers will be hosting Victor Marsh as a guest author. Victor will be talking about his autobiographical book The Boy in the Yellow Dress.
“I’m excited to have Victor as a guest author,” says Robert. “His story is very readable and honest and it will strike a chord with everyone. In June I have invited the wonderful Shelly Argent to speak about her book, Opening the door: a mother’s journey when her son comes out. That month we are looking at what it means to be queer in the 21st Century, so apart from Shelly’s book, we have selected some interesting titles in order to examine the issue (go to our What we read page at our website www.qreaders.net for a sneak peak of the 2015 reading list). In the past we have had Benjamin Law and actor and writer Alan Cumming as guests. I think it breaks up the meetings to have a guest when possible. Apart from the set books, in the second half of the meeting we go around the table and discuss whatever else people have read that month – a great way to discover new authors.”
Queer Readers meets in the New Farm Library Meeting Room on the third Monday of each month at 6.30 pm. If you would like more information or wish to contact the group email firstname.lastname@example.org In the meantime checkout our blog for up to date book reviews and information at https://queerreaders.wordpress.com/