Celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month

Miss Richfield 1981 loves rainbows.

“Look at all the different colors, and they’re all together!” the drag performer told a crowd at Augsburg Park Library – in Richfield, of course.

The gathering of a few dozen kids and adults was one of several special Stories Together with Drag Performers during last year’s LGBTQIA+ History Month. Once again this October, local drag performers will join library staff to read books and sing songs, with an intentional emphasis on self-expression, inclusion, self-acceptance – and a little extra flair. Miss Richfield will make an encore experience at her home library on Saturday, September 28, at 10 a.m.

Other events this year will include a film series hosted by the library and held at Trylon Cinema in Minneapolis, author events and a queer book discussion series.

This is the third year that Hennepin County Library has celebrated LGBTQIA+ History Month, to celebrate members of our communities who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual, as well as others who don’t identify with a gender norm.

The Hennepin County Library system works to welcome and reflect the people we serve through programming, materials selection and more. This may be more apparent for different community members at different times of the year.

“Hennepin County Library offers a diverse range of public programs for all ages as part of our work to bring communities together and encourage learning at every age,” said interim Library Director Janet Mills. “These events provide an open, welcoming and positive space for children and their families to learn more about gender identity, roles, and expression.”

Many of the Stories Together performers met with library staff in advance for group storytime training, book selection coaching and read-aloud tips, as well as to discuss goals for the events.

“It’s almost impossible not to smile and get involved with the songs and stories at these storytimes,” said Library Specialist Teresa Barnhill, who is the co-chair of the library system’s Pride Workgroup. “Stories Together with Drag Performers gives an elevated sense of a regular storytime with the added visual treat of our performers. Bringing someone new to the space to share their enthusiasm and confidence makes these events even more engaging and exciting.”

Rainbows galore

In addition to a backdrop of multicolored streamers, Miss Richfield wore rainbow platform sneakers and a rainbow-and-clouds mini dress that swayed as she sashayed into the circle.

This was full-participation storytime. Any page could inspire a side story, such as the time Miss Richfield’s cat caught a mouse, and her encounter with a surprised skunk. Kids chimed in too, about cats and dogs, siblings and birthdays.

After a reading of “10,000 Dresses,” about a boy who dreams of dresses, Miss Richfield exclaimed, “I dream of dresses, too!”

She closed the storytime with a performance of her favorite song, “Over the Rainbow,” which she sang in a rich baritone, accompanied by her own musical saw.

“Isn’t that great?” she exclaimed. “Let’s clap for being different!”

Events

Queer Book Club -  Join our discussion of new and interesting titles reflecting stories of those who identify on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Bring along your recommendations for future meetings. Lending copies may be picked up at the library prior to the meeting. At Golden Valley Library.

Stories Together with Miss Richfield 1981 - Celebrate differences and learn that it's okay to be yourself through stories, rhymes, music and movement with legendary local celebrity and drag performer, Miss Richfield 1981! This event will be a safe, positive, and encouraging space for children and caregivers to express themselves in an open environment. At Augsburg Park Library, Saturday, September 28, 10-11 a.m.

Stories Together with Drag Performers - Celebrate self-expression, dress-up, and gender fluidity through stories, rhymes, music and movement with drag performers from our community. These events will be a safe, positive, and encouraging space for children and caregivers to express themselves in an open environment.

LGBTQIA History Film Series at the Trylon Cinema - Join us for a series of films celebrating LGBTQIA+ History Month! Funded by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Saturdays in October at Trylon Cinema, 3-4:30 p.m. Films will start promptly at 3 p.m. and seating will begin 15 minutes prior to show time.

Transfabulous - Horror Writing with Valin Paige - TransFabulous is a series of monthly art workshops at Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central led by artists who identify as transgender (trans) or gender non-conforming (GNC). This series is funded in part by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. At Minneapolis Central Library, Wednesday, October 9, 6-8:30 p.m.

Book lists

LGBTQIA+ History Books for Children

LGBTQIA+ History Books for Teens

LGBTQIA+ History for Adults