The Q and Panic are well-known social hang outs for the LGBTQ community, but they lack the informed discussion that can be found away from the blaring music and in a remote corner of the Haymarket. The LGBTQ Book Club provides a welcoming and alternative outlet for people of all sexual orientations with an interest in reading. The book club meets on the first Saturday of each month at Indigo Bridge Books in the Haymarket.
The LGBTQ Book Club was founded by Steven Soebbing in January 2011. He came up with the idea after a discussion with his cousin who had started a similar book club in New York City. Soebbing said he thought it was something Lincoln needed, so he began contacting his friends to see if they would be interested in joining. After receiving a widely positive response, Soebbing decided this was something worth doing. He contacted Indigo Bridge Books after hearing the bookstore was an advocate of the LGBTQ community. Indigo Bridge approved the book club.
"I remembered when I was coming out that I wished there was an inviting, low-pressure way to get to know some ‘out' people and establish a supportive community and group of people to be around," Soebbing said.
The LGBTQ Book Club reads books, plays and graphic novels dealing with homosexual, bisexual or transgender issues. Their readings have covered a wide array of literature, from Sarah Water's "Fingersmith" to Tom Spanbauer's "The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon."
Meetings allow members of the group to discuss selected readings in the quaint environment of Indigo Bridge Books. They break down each piece through discussions of their opinions, while relating the literature to current experiences of today's gay community. The club also uses their time together to take on different roles when reading scenes from selected plays, such as Tony Kusher's "Angels in America," adding an element of drama to the meeting.
Despite the group's ties to the LGBTQ community, their book club is open to anyone.
"Even though it is an LGBTQ reading club, it is never meant to be exclusive or exclusionary — it is meant to be welcoming to everyone, regardless of who they are," Soebbing said.
The LGBTQ Book Club is a group with diverse representation from bisexuals to homosexuals to transgendered people and heterosexuals.
"The book club gives me a chance to learn more about the local LGBTQ community, what the individual needs are and what kind of discrimination still goes on here," said Susan Carol Tribby, a heterosexual member of the LGBTQ Book Club. "At least that was my original motivation, but I am finding that it's really more of a chance to get to know some wonderful people and just encourage them by being a friend. And, hell, the books are just a lot of fun to read, too."
Tribby became an advocate of the LGBTQ community during the '60s after meeting a group of lesbians through the Women's Liberation Movement. She said she was baffled by the unwarranted and disgraceful prejudice directed at the LGBTQ community and because of it, she has been an ally of equal rights for a long time.
Most of the LGBTQ Book Club is made up of University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, staff and faculty. Their attendance has dwindled a little in recent months, but they're hoping to welcome new members who are interested in LGBTQ issues.
While The Q and Panic provide alternative forms of entertainment for both the homosexual and heterosexual communities, they're far from the ideal environment of having an open intellectual discussion. The LGBTQ Book Club provides an opportunity for informed conversation among people of all sexual orientations.
"I thought it was a good opportunity for people of various ages, lines of work and orientations to come together in intellectual conversation," Soebbing said.