Have you always wanted to join a book group but never had the time? No problem! The Center’s Read It or Don’t Book Group has you covered. Our book group includes authors from the LGBTQ community and a variety of topics. A panel of guests will present themes found in the book and how they relate to our community. A lively discussion gives you the chance to ask questions. If you’ve read the book, you’re sure to find the conversation interesting. But no book report required! If you haven’t read the book, just enjoy the program and maybe you will discover a new author or new perspective. 

Produced in partnership with Denver Public Library 

Books available through Denver Public Library or available for purchase at area bookstores.  

Note on COVID-19 Restrictions 

Due to the pandemic, book discussions will be streamed live through The Center’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. If you miss the meeting, it will continue to live on our website and YouTube channel. When it is safe to gather again, we will transition to an in-person format.  

Upcoming Books 

Thursday, February 11, 2020 7 PM 

Streamed live on Facebook and YouTube 

“Before that day, I hadn’t been to church in five Beyoncé albums,” begins author Michael Arceneaux in his engaging memoir about love, sex, family, race and other reasons he put his faith in Beyoncé. With the characteristic wit and candor that have made him one of today’s boldest writers on social issues, I Can’t Date Jesus is Michael Arceneaux’s impassioned, forthright, and refreshing look at Black life in today’s America. Leaving no bigoted or ignorant stone unturned, he describes his journey in learning to embrace his identity when the world told him to do the opposite. 

He eloquently writes about coming out to his mother; growing up in Houston, Texas; being approached for the priesthood; and his obstacles in embracing intimacy. A timely collection of alternately hysterical and soul-searching essays about what it is like to grow up as a creative, sensitive Black man in a world that constantly tries to deride and diminish your humanity.   

“Arceneaux’s essays penetrate to the heart of intersectionality to reveal personal and religious trials of faith. Together they make a powerful statement of self-acceptance in a world much in need of lessons about diversity, tolerance, and openness. A funny, fierce, and bold memoir in essays.” 

-Kirkus Reviews
 

“There are stories that simply demand to be told and Michael Arceneaux’s is one such story. Arceneaux writes from his life as a Black gay man with an uncanny strength of conviction and such fine wit. The essays collected here reveal Arceneaux at his finest, as he grapples with the very things that shape our lives—faith, family, and finding a way into the world he wants to be a part of. A must-read collection from a rising, unforgettable voice.” 

-Roxanne Gay 

Panelist Bios

Devin Cochran

Devin comes from Haughton, Louisiana and currently works for the Denver Public Library as a marketing and communications specialist. Devin sits on the board of directors for One Colorado. He enjoys queer literature, cooking and asking lots of questions. You can often find him at Cheesman Park or eating at Pho 96.

Rev. Jasper Peters

Rev. Peters was born and raised in Denver where both his parents served as pastors. He now serves as the lead pastor of Belong Church, a faith community that welcomes everyone. www.belongchurch.org

Thera Lee Marshall III

Thera is native New Mexican who has lived in Denver for 12 years. He is the former Colorado HIV Program Manager for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Currently he serves as STI/HIV/VH Prevention Interventionist at CDPHE. Thera is a community member, activist, and friend!

Thursday, April 8, 2020 7 PM 

Streamed Live on Facebook and YouTube  

A few months before her twentieth birthday, Janet Mock is adjusting to her days as a first-generation college student at the University of Hawaii and her nights as a dancer at a strip club. Finally content in her body after her teenage transition, she vacillates between flaunting and concealing herself as she navigates dating and disclosure, sex and intimacy, and most important, letting herself be truly seen.  

Fueled by her dreams and an inimitable drive, Janet makes her way through New York City intent on building a career in the highly competitive world of magazine publishing—within the unique context of being trans, a woman, and a person of color. Hers is a timely glimpse about the barriers many face—and a much-needed guide on how to make a way out of no way. 

"Brimming with liberated self-discovery, Mock's conversational memoir is smoothly written with plenty of insight and personal perspective…. A defining chronicle of strength and spirit particularly remarkable for younger readers.” 

-Kirkus Reviews 

Queer Author Expo

June 11 & 12  |  Times, locations and details to be announced 

The Center will expand our successful author expo to include more authors and resources for writers from the LGBTQ community. An expo for Colorado LGBTQ writers, workshops led by community experts from the fields of publishing, and opportunities for writers to share their works will be combined with two Read It or Don’t Book Group events. Two dynamic memoirs!  

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado  

Date and time to be determined 

In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado’s engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming. 

And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope—the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman—through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships. 

“Merge the house and the woman—watch the woman experience her own body as a haunted house, a place of sudden, inexplicable terrors—and you are reading the blazingly talented Carmen Maria Machado.” 

-Parul Sehgal, The New York Times 

No Walls and the Recurring Dream by Ani Defranco

Date and time to be determined 

In her memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence–from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records. 

“Part feminist and social-justice manifesto, part bracing road story. . . . A deep and thoughtful current runs throughout DiFranco’s memoir. She’s a longtime activist, and her book highlights the value and power of speaking up.” 

-The Philadelphia Inquirer 

Thursday, September 9  |  7 PM  

Additional details to be announced 

The acclaimed modern science fiction masterpiece. Hugo Award winner for Best Series. 

Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star. 

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain. Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime.   

A quietly profound, humane tour de force that tackles politics and gender issues with refreshing optimism. 

-The Guardian

Thursday, November 18  |  7 PM

Additional details to be announced  

A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby's extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacabys story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in her adopted city, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humor, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people. 

 

"A memoir of great scope and beauty, exploring with gender and sexuality, her Ojibwa-Cree cultural heritage, colonialism, and resilience."  

-Sarah NeilsonL.A. Review of Books 

 

“An excellent memoir that gives readers, whether Indigenous or not, a direct connection to the past and to a personal story about gender, sexuality, overcoming adversity, and becoming a leader, an activist, a healer, and an inspiration to two-spirit individuals everywhere.”  

-Robert BittnerThe Canadian Journal of Native Studies