You, Me, and LGBT

An event co-hosted by the Cedar Rapids library and PFLAG Cedar Rapids

By Julia Freeman

December 1, 2019 – The essence of a Saturday well spent is in the people you surround yourself with, and the second Saturday at Cedar Rapids Public Library did not disappoint. In the inaugural You, Me, and LGBT event, cohosted by the library and PFLAG Cedar Rapid, there were activities for all age ranges. A diverse representation of participants helped everyone feel a sense of belonging, a pivotal goal of the venue, organization, and event. The event was considered a success by attendees, and the contributions to the LGBTQIA+ community are beyond measure.

There were resources tables. Additionally, artist galleries, a reflection activity, and a platform for open mic took place throughout the day. In the essence of coming together as an Eastern Iowa community to learn and be in the same space as others, there was also a children’s storytime, an archive presentation, and a circle of support in the upper level of the facility.

Books such as “Big Boys Don’t Cry” sparking a struggle with the idea of masculinity and emotion, “Ogilvy” speaking to the cultural paradigm surrounding how clothing is expected to dictate cultural expectations, “Rainbow” rallying the significance of each coloration of the rainbow, and “Dear Boy” as a captivating narrative about, in part, questioning identity as well as other norms, were read by PFLAG members. This storytime also involved activities such as the goodbye song, scarf activities, and an active rocket ship space activity brought to the children, and willing members of the audience that included supporters beyond parents and guardians, by the library staff.

Before Sabri Sky presented her spoken word poetry for attendees in the downstairs commons area, there was an impromptu highlight-worthy circle of support that allowed participants to share their experience, listen, and connect with others. Many teens attended with their parents, some without, as well as older adult couples, to share their journeys before, during, and after ‘coming out’ across the lifespan. Kai Deimos, Shawn Westbrook, Morgan Turner, and others shared the stories of their paths towards the person that sat in the circle of support in front of participants at the event.

For some, it was apparent that looks can be deceiving as those that looked the most composed outward image had endured less than ideal reactions from friends, family members, and the public alike. While some stories reeked of self-acceptance and ‘why didn’t you tell me sooner because we already knew,’ others featured themes of struggle in people’s lives.

Although there were noticeable differences in storylines between circle members diverse by their gender identity and those identifying as diverse on the sexuality spectrum, the most inspiring moment of the event was that the circle of support, which consisted of as many attendees as wanted to participate sitting side by side with fellow often LGBTQ members, continued to expand such that additional chairs had to be brought in to accommodate the demand of those wanting to participate by listening to speakers and sharing their truths. GG