Pages of Inclusivity: Exploring PFLAG Fresno’s Queer Book Club

Apr 6, 2024 | 2024 Articles, Books & Tales, Community, Molly Eide Marquez

by Molly Eide Marquez

In a world where representation and inclusivity are crucial, community initiatives like PFLAG Fresno and its Queer Book Club are beacons of hope and understanding. Kings River Life had the opportunity to speak with Brittany Carpenter, Jen Licón, and Drew Harbaugh, key members of PFLAG Fresno, to delve into the significance of their book club and their goals of shaping a more inclusive Fresno. Listed below are highlights of the conversation.

KRL: How did PFLAG Fresno come about, and what inspired the creation of a queer book club in Fresno?

PFLAG: PFLAG Fresno has been a cornerstone of support, education, and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community since its inception in 1993 by Kathy and Jerry Ward. The idea of a queer book club sprouted from a need to celebrate and protect LGBTQ+ narratives, especially in the face of legislative threats. Advocacy against censorship spurred the birth of the Little Queer Library and its accompanying book club.

Drew Harbaugh and Brittany Carpenter

KRL: Could you share some insights into the types of books the club typically selects, and how you work to ensure diversity and inclusivity in your book selections?

PFLAG: The club meticulously curates a diverse array of fiction from authors spanning various backgrounds, ensuring representation across gender identities, sexual orientations, and cultures. By offering a broad spectrum of genres, they aim to provide every reader with an opportunity to find themselves within the pages.

KRL: In what ways do you believe that book clubs contribute to building inclusive communities, particularly in regions like Fresno?

PFLAG: Book clubs act as catalysts for connection and conversation, fostering communities of diverse backgrounds. In Fresno, as in many other communities, where queer spaces are limited, the book club serves as a safe haven for individuals to find like-minded friendships outside of traditional avenues.

KRL: How do you see the role of libraries in supporting community-based book clubs?

PFLAG: Libraries play a vital role in making literature accessible to all, serving as gateways to knowledge and understanding. By providing free access to books, libraries empower community-based initiatives like PFLAG Fresno’s book club to thrive.

KRL: Can you describe some memorable discussions or moments that have occurred within the club?

PFLAG: The inaugural meeting drew over 30 individuals seeking a sense of community. Participants shared how queer literature had profoundly impacted their lives, emphasizing the importance of representation and safe spaces.

KRL: How do you engage with local libraries or literary organizations to collaborate and amplify the impact of your book club?

PFLAG: While direct collaboration with libraries is yet to be established, PFLAG Fresno has worked alongside other literary organizations in advocacy efforts. Future collaborations could further enhance the accessibility and reach of the book club.

KRL: What advice would you give to someone interested in starting a similar book club or community initiative in their area?

PFLAG: Embrace the opportunity to create connections and foster friendships through community initiatives. Research, intentional planning, and collaboration with existing organizations can lay the groundwork for success.

PFLAG’s Little Queer Library

KRL: How has the digital landscape contributed to the growth and outreach of PFLAG Fresno and its book club activities?

PFLAG: Social media platforms have revolutionized outreach, enabling PFLAG Fresno to connect with thousands of individuals and mobilize community action effectively. The digital sphere has also facilitated ongoing discussions through platforms like Discord.

KRL: Can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives that PFLAG Fresno is excited about?

PFLAG: PFLAG Fresno is excited to be part of an upcoming LGBTQ+ Town Hall, showcasing the diverse range of services and organizations available to the community. Additionally, ongoing projects aim to improve access to competent and welcoming healthcare for LGBTQ+ individuals and families in Fresno.

KRL: From your perspective, what impact do you hope PFLAG Fresno and its book club will have on future generations?

PFLAG: By amplifying LGBTQ+ narratives and fostering understanding, PFLAG Fresno strives to create a more inclusive and accepting future for all individuals. Sharing stories and celebrating diversity are pivotal in shaping a brighter tomorrow.

KRL: Finally, is there anything else you would like our readers to know about PFLAG Fresno?

PFLAG: PFLAG Fresno welcomes all individuals to their meetings held every second Sunday of the month. Additionally, offers a comprehensive resource list for competent and affirming healthcare providers in the area. PFLAG Fresno’s Queer Book Club stands as a testament to the power of community, literature, and advocacy in creating a more inclusive world. As we navigate the complexities of our society, initiatives like these offer hope, understanding, and a path forward toward acceptance and celebration of diversity.

Editor’s Note: Don’t miss PFLAG Fresno’s Little Queer Library Sponsored by PFLAG Fresno! They are an LGBTQ+ lending library located within the Fresno EOC LGBTQ+ Resource Center at 1252 Fulton St.

Molly is a Central Valley native, where she and her family live, work, and play. A graduate of CSU Fresno, she is actively involved in the local community and is proud to lift up those around her, shining light on the many wonderful people and organizations that make the Central Valley such a great place to live.


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