Seeing yourself represented in the stories you read makes you feel included. Wordcrafters’ Rainbow Reads book club, helps LGBTQIA+ youth know they matter.
“It’s really cool to be in a smaller group where we’re just talking about books. That’s fun,“ says Olivia, a local teenager.
Each month, Eugene-area youth meet to talk about a book with diverse characters by an LGBTQIA+ author, as well as their own experiences, in a safe space. Olivia’s been going since January 2021 when Rainbow Reads started, after learning about the program through her middle school’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance club.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group began meeting online, through Zoom.
“Even though this was virtual, it was really nice she could have this connection to people. It was a very positive thing,” her mom, Tracey, says. “It was very isolating, especially towards the beginning of the pandemic. This was like something she could look forward to doing.”
“When we were online, meeting authors was really interesting,” says Olivia. “Hearing their perspectives on their books, and they read excerpts from their books which was cool.”
Wordcrafters offers copies of the next month’s book for free through the Eugene Downtown Library. Ebooks and audiobooks are also available. Now that foundation and library funding has ended, Rainbow Reads relies entirely on donations from writers and readers like you to continue.
The program helps young LGBTQIA+ people feel seen, understood, and supported.
“It’s nice to see representation in media,” Olivia says. “They actively work to find representation that represents you. Like rather than just having white, gay characters they have other representations.” Olivia is Native as well as queer. “You don’t see a lot of it so it makes me feel really good to see it.”
Books give us all a way to simultaneously escape the confines of reality, while discovering new parts of ourselves and our worlds. For LGBTQIA+ youth, stories written by and about people like them show they have power over their own story, and a right to exist and take up space.
“I’m glad she has a place that can be supportive, and help her feel proud of who she is,” Tracey says. “I think that’s a great thing.”
Your support is vital in keeping this program going. Help our LGBTQ!A+ youth see themselves in the books they read and know they belong.