An Investment in Pride

The HHS Pride Club raises funds in order to create an LGBTQ library section.

By Joss Broward

The power of a book is anything but negligible. They have the ability to inspire, validate and change minds. For members of the LGBTQ community, queer literature has not often been easily attainable. The Pride Club is trying to change that pattern.

In a drive for more queer representation in media, the newly founded Pride Club has focused their efforts on adding an LGBTQ section to the library. The project, which is close to the club officers’ hearts, is also about inclusion on campus, Pride Club co-president Abby Berwick, junior, said.

“For this bookshelf, the other club members and I thought that it would be a good idea for members and students to see people who have shared experiences with them,” Berwick said. “We’re already moving towards anti-racist school, which is great, but we also want to extend that to [support for] LGBTQ students and their identities.”

Pride Club member and junior Isabel Hernandez-Gamberg said the club is using a combination of donated books, which students can drop off in room B209, and funds from administration to go about the implementation of the LGBTQ section, which she said is crucial for queer students to feel included.

Pride Club Member and senior Marena Gautschi-Wade, who joined the club to be around people with similar experiences, said she sees very little representation of LGBTQ identities in literature.

“For us, lots of times when we read books, it’s always usually straight people, and there’s no representation of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, or anything on the spectrum,” Gautschi-Wade said. “What we’re trying to accomplish in the Pride Club is having a section where we can go, knowing that we’re gonna be reading something that we can relate to, which lots of times in books, is not something we can do. It makes people feel a lot safer, and [allows them to] enjoy books when they can actually connect to the characters in the book.”

Gautschi-Wade said she would feel more accepted with the implementation of this

section, and she hopes other LGBTQ students would as well.

“For me personally, it would make me feel a lot more accepted in the communities that I’m in knowing that there is something for me,” Gautschi-Wade said. “I know for some people, they would be scared to be seen in the LGBTQ books section, especially if they’re not out. But I think it’s something really good and helpful for people who also want to explore their sexuality and want to read about it and see if that’s something they can relate to.”

Principal Greg Giglio said he has met with the Pride Club president to discuss the new section, and he wholeheartedly supports the Pride Club’s efforts into creating an LGBTQ section in the library.

“I hope at some point we don’t even have to worry about having an LGBTQ section, that we just have [queer literature] right there,” Giglio said. “We are trying to respect the diversity within our student body and trying to find ways to celebrate the different cultures, identities and affiliations.”

Overall, Giglio said he hopes the LGBTQ section helps queer students feel more comfortable on campus.

“In terms of LGBTQ students, there is a huge amount of data about the negative effects that the population goes through – just dealing with what society says about them, so when we can help them feel included and comfortable on our campus, I think that’s great,” Giglio said. “We have got to keep working towards whatever we can do to keep helping people feel they have a seat at the table.”

Berwick said she hopes the LGBTQ section will allow queer literature to be more accessible to lower-income students, which will in turn hopefully make them feel included as well. 

“Books aren’t accessible to everyone,” Berwick said. “ It’s hard to navigate your own identity alone. If lower-income students might not be able to afford books to enjoy, then this would be set out for them to access, read and connect with, and be a resource for them to explore their own identity and just enjoy themselves inside the library.”

Pride Club member Zoe Del Vecchio, sophomore, said they hope the section also helps students feel more valid in their identities by having access to mainstream LGBTQ literature.

“I think that the new section will make people feel as though they’re valid, seeing examples of themselves in mainstream media, such as books, especially when it’s popular,” Del Vecchio said. “It’s not like some offhand book that no one’s ever heard of. Having access to popular queer books I think is really important.”

Additionally, Berwick said she hopes the section helps break down some of the stigma that exists around being a member of the LGBTQ community, even in a more progressive area.

“I think it normalizes LGBTQ relationships, even when there still might be a stigma around it,” Berwick said. “Even in such a progressive place, it’s not completely taboo to make being part of the LGBTQ community the butt of the joke. For this bookshelf, the other club members and I thought that it would be a good idea for members and students to see that people had shared experiences with them and to have greater representation.”

Like Berwick, Hernandez-Gamberg said she hopes the new library section helps LGBTQ students feel more included and represented.

“For so many years, we’ve only really had a few characters,” Hernandez-Gamberg said. “We’ve never really had much diversity. And so, to have more LGBTQ characters would just be much more inclusive. To people who are struggling with feeling alone, seeing themselves in the pages of the book could make them realize that they are perfectly okay. I think that is an incredible amount of power for a few pages to hold.”