Two weeks ago I volunteered to be a book at the Derby Human Library, a great idea where people describe themselves as a book title and others can book them out to ‘read’, or find our more about a person who might otherwise be subject to stereotypes.
I first can across the idea when Vanessa Boon, the organiser tweeted about the library, asking for volunteers who would be books. I have to say that I was intrigued and agreed to contribute across a number of subjects including ‘Autistic’, ‘Mental Illness’ and ‘Bisexual’. I am quite open about the first as I consider it to be a characteristic of my personality. I talk about my history of mental illness where appropriate as I genuinely feel that there is a still a great deal of stigma around discussing it as a subject, despite the fact that many people I know have close friend or family who has experienced quite serious mental health themselves. Unfortunately it is never brought into the public unless someone else starts the conversation.
My sexuality is something that I have generally kept private. I have known I was bi’ since I was about 14, and feel part of a distinct group, seperate from gay or straight. However prejudice is still rife, from both sides of the fence. Many people consider the fluidity of those who are attracted to both sexes to mean ambiguity, or even worse that you are easy and happy to sleep with anyone individual. I have not in the past been happy discussing it with work colleagues for example.
Anyway, the day was an amazing experience. Of 27 visits that were made to the library I spoke with 5 people, and it surprised me the topics that people were interested in; 3 for bisexual, 2 for mental illness and none for autistic. For the sake of confidentiality I cannot of course mention any details of the conversations, but simply add that the breadth of human experience is a beautiful thing and to be able to plug into it in a different way for a little while is an amazing experience.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Human Library, there is a Facebook page for the UK and also the Derbyshire organiser has a Facebook group to let people keep up to date with news. You can always contact Vanessa Boon on Twitter – I’m sure she’s be happy to answer questions.
Happy reading 🙂