The event was incredibly important for our community. It was an open and safe space for everyone. The event was well attended with all ages represented: families with young children, teens, and adults of all stages of life. The grant allowed this gathering to take place and to gather the presenters here.
There has never been an event like this at the Camas Public Library, and—from what we could gather—not in downtown Camas area, either. The response we got from the community was phenomenal. The Downtown Camas Association highlighted the event in their newsletter, and at a board meeting gave the Library kudos, saying how proud they were of their town. The Mayor of Camas not only came to the event, but she also gave it rave reviews at the following City Council meeting. It’s incredibly important for our LGBTQ+ friends here in Camas to know that they are supported and that we welcome everyone in our stores, businesses, schools, public agencies, etc. On the flip side, it’s equally important for our straight allies and those who may have been more sheltered up until this event to gain a greater understanding of the coming out journey, how it varies for each individual, and how those of us who identify as LGBTQ+ don’t come out just one time but thousands of times each and every year.
Stories told by the presenters were incredibly impactful. There were several tears shed as audience members related to the various questions and topics. It brought about a sense of community that audience members took away with them beyond the hours of the event. In addition, Library staff worked with presenters to receive book recommendations. As a result, we were able to enrich our collection to benefit the community for years to come. Having this broad collection of LGBTQ+-themed materials allows community members a safe place to find the information they may be seeking as well as to read books with diverse characters, allowing individuals to see themselves represented in the books they’re reading.