The Center on Colfax launches book club

Attendees can participate in discussions even if they didn’t read the book

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The Center on Colfax understands that people have busy schedules.

That’s why it created a book club for which people can choose whether or not to read the book ahead of time.

The new book club is called Read it or Don’t Book Group. It is being offered through a partnership between The Center on Colfax, commonly referred to as The Center, and the Denver Public Library.

The new book club is a social and learning program, said Rex Fuller, The Center’s CEO. It is not necessary to read the books to be able to fully participate in the book discussions, but the selection of books is “cool and fun,” so likely people will enjoy them, Fuller said. All the books have an LGBTQ+ theme, but range from memoirs to science fiction, Fuller said.

“Our hope is that the book group will spark new dialog and help people unite over shared experiences,” Fuller said. “Even if participants don’t read the book, we’re creating this with the idea that someone will walk away inspired about learning something new or excited about making new connections.”

The Center, 1301 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver’s City Park West neighborhood, was founded in 1976 and serves as a safe community center to give voice to Colorado’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community. It hosts a variety of ongoing events, services and programs including Rainbow Alley for youth and SAGE of the Rockies for older adults, but is well-known for putting on the annual Denver PrideFest.

For now, the Read it or Don’t Book Group is being offered virtually. All book discussions will be streamed live through The Center’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, and the meetings will also be available on The Center’s website for viewing later if someone is unable to stream it live. Each discussion will have subtitles and feature an ASL interpreter.

The first book discussion took place Feb. 11 for the book, “I Can’t Date Jesus,” by Michael Arceneaux.

The Read it or Don’t Book Group had been in planning for quite some time, Fuller said, and had to be modified to take place virtually because of the pandemic. It is expected that the book discussions will eventually take place in-person once COVID-19 restrictions ease, Fuller added.

The Read it or Don’t Book Group has three main goals, Fuller said. The first is to have a conversation and learn about a new topic, as mentioned above. The second is to articulate the variety of the LGBTQ+ experience by offering a diverse set of voices, represented through the books and/or the book discussion panelists. Each book club meeting will feature a different panel of guests who will present themes found in the book and how they relate to the community. Thirdly, the book group will address issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces.

“Our team has worked very closely with The Center to create a book club that will facilitate thoughtful conversation, awareness and much more,” said Olivia Gallegos, spokeswoman for Denver Public Library, in a news release. “We currently work with The Center to conduct outreach in the community and we also believe in the work The Center does. We’re proud to partner with The Center on this effort to bring a library book club to the LGBTQ+ community.”

For those who would like to read the book — either prior to the discussion or afterwards — the books will be available in hard copy or e-book from the Denver Public Library, or can be purchased online — such as from Amazon — or at some local bookstores.

The book group is meant to expand The Center’s programming to meet the interests of a wider array of community members, Fuller said. He believes everybody, including those who do not identify as LGBTQ+, will enjoy reading the books and participating in the book discussions.

“We hope people will embrace the program,” Fuller said, “and have some great conversations.”

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