This summer I was asked to moderate a new monthly book club for the volunteers of the Magnet health clinic in the Castro. This book club selects gay-friendly fiction as a way to discuss modern-day issues facing the LGBT community. As event coordinator at A Different Light bookstore, I’m a big supporter of activities in the Castro that don’t revolve around drinking, shopping or fucking, and a book club is quite the perfect way to meet new friends and get social without as many black-outs or morning-after regrets.
In addition to leading discussion, I try to bring the authors we select to come to the bookstore and interact with the book club members on a more personal level. In October we selected Krakow Melt by Daniel Allen Cox, who sat down with us to discuss his new novel. Set in 2005 Krakow, Poland, the book is about two artsy pyromaniacs set on a mission to combat homophobia by committing arson, fire works as a way to protest.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.” Krakow Melt is relevant with what’s currently developing in eastern Europe today. Last month, the European Court of Human Rights found that Russia had violated the rights of gay activists to protest openly. The mayor of Moscow is known for publicly mocking homosexuals and denying their rights to assemble. The fine for this violation of human rights? $40,000.
In 2007, Poland faced a similar charge for banning gay marches. This summer, Warsaw held the first Europride parade in eastern Europe without much fuss.
But it’s not all parades and rainbows in that part of the world just yet. The Belgrade gay pride march on October 10 ended with 140 people injured. Gay rights activists, however, looked at the bright side - hailing success at the fact that it happened in the first place. Overall, the LGBT community in eastern Europe is weary of supporting gay pride parades. They give homophobes a tangible target to express their hate. It’s still such a long way to go.
If you live in San Francisco, enjoy reading and discussing current topics with like-minded gay men, join our book club! We meet the fourth Tuesday of the month at Magnet. Our November selection is the Man Booker Prize finalist, The Slap by gay Australian author Christos Tsiolkas. Discussion will be held on Tuesday, November 23 at 7:30pm. Contact me - adlsfevents [at] gmail [dot] com - if you have any questions.