One of the most wonderful things about Westerly – in the very humble opinion of this non-local, CT dweller – is the community spirit that the town radiates. It’s amazing to see members of the community constantly working together, and I’m especially impressed by the younger generation who are getting involved and making their voices heard. Of course, the library is always here to support their efforts! As an example, high school senior Denzell Rodriguez has arranged a day full of technology related workshops and 1:1 help sessions in the library’s Makespace on March 21st; the goal is for the younger generation to help the older one become more familiar and comfortable with technology. Look out for more details in next weeks’ column!
Another remarkable teen that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting is Kayla Kennedy, also a senior at Westerly High School. Kayla is a passionate advocate for the LGBT (which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, and wanted to use her Senior Project as an opportunity to push back against homophobia and misogyny, spread awareness and acceptance, and have a fun time! Kayla has organized a Gender Bender Fashion Show fundraiser, to benefit the school’s Alliance Club, which is taking place on Sunday March 25th at the Knickerbocker. It’s sure to be an entertaining evening, full of music and costumes that are meant to explore gender expression and challenge stereotypes. The show will also feature Westerly locals from area businesses (including the library) strutting their stuff on the catwalk…so look out for some familiar faces! Doors open at 4:00 p.m., with the show starting at 5:00 p.m. Again, this is a fundraiser for a great cause, so there will be a suggested donation at the door.
While we’re on the subject of the LGBT community, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few books from recent years that have been very popular amongst teens and adults alike. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson is both informative and wildly entertaining “guide” to the LGBT experience. It’s written about LGBT folks, by an LGBT author, and intended for everyone! Another book that gives voice to the community is All Out: The No Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages, an anthology of short stories showcasing LGBT characters in various eras, from Victorian to modern days and everything in between. Robin Talley’s 2014 novel Lies We Tell Ourselves is another engrossing book, set in the 1950’s, which tackles social issues including racial segregation and gay rights from the points-of-view of the two main characters. All of these books, and much more, can be found in the library’s Teen Space.
As you may your way to (or from) the Gender Bender Fashion Show this weekend, you may also want to check out the children’s book Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman, which was recommended by WHS’s Kayla. It, like Kayla’s show, challenges stereotypes and spreads acceptance, love, and a bit of sparkle.
By Cassie Skobrak, Reference Librarian