This is a guest post by Anita Fitzwater.
UPDATE: The book club meeting has been moved from Shameless Grounds to Mokabe’s. Check below for the time, date, and new location!
Who the hell am I? Well, I’m someone who’s been involved with the Bisexual Alliance of St. Louis (BASL) for the past two years or so to an increasing degree. A former English major. I’m also someone who grew up in a small Missouri town not exactly known for its liberality or tolerance and who
managed to escape to the city and find it more of a home than she expected and encountered lots of people who further contribute to that feeling of home. For a bisexual, liberal, vegetarian, Pagan, however, friends tend to group based upon areas of interest, forming something of neighborhoods
or subsections of one’s life. So, it’s become a habit for me to host gatherings in my apartment with the goal of getting people together that wouldn’t usually get a chance to meet—people who share something but don’t occupy the same social space, so to speak. So, all of that (a personal desire to widen my knowledge of topics like gender theory and sexuality, bring people together, and incorporate my love of reading) went into the idea of the Queer Book Club which had its first meeting last Saturday.
To start gently, we picked Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, a book most of us had heard of and/or had on our reading list. Personally, I found the book, which originated as a serial in the San Francisco Chronicle, to be a somewhat uneven yet enjoyable read. The characters varied from
mysterious and vividly created to somewhat flat and inauthentic. In particular, the straight males seemed to be lacking depth. Going around the room as we discussed the book’s strengths andweaknesses, all present agreed that it was an important read for the achievement it represents. The
first volume, published in 1978, was bold for the time in its depiction of homosexuality, bisexuality and feminism. It also succeeded in creating a valuable picture of San Francisco’s culture while also contributing further to the creation of that culture. The question of whether this volume, in particular, has the resonance today that it had at the time it was written was raised by our group. Have we, the LGBT community, reached a point in time where books like this are not as important? Has American culture grown accepting (certain “red” states excepted) of us to the degree that “awareness raising” reads are not as necessary? We didn’t reach a conclusion, perhaps because of the sting we feel from the somewhat backward moves certain legislative bodies are taking at the same time others are moving forward. But, I digress… Overall, we agreed that the book still has a place for those struggling with their orientation and/or the process of coming out and is valuable as a historic part of our movement.
Book clubs are delicate creations, in my oh-so-humble opinion. You have to get people talking but not arguing, interested in the topics but not vehemently so. There MUST be food and drink. They have to happen in the right space and the books have to elicit enough interest so that at least
the majority of the people attending finish them. All of those elements came together nicely at my apartment on Saturday. And, given that, we reached a consensus quickly about reaching out to others and meeting in a larger space next month. So, anyone out there who would like to join us in March is
welcome. We’ll be meeting at Mokabes, 3606 Arsenal St., on March 26th at 5pm. In the interests of varying what we read, this month’s selection is Whipping Girl by Julia Serano. For future