The first annual Rainbow Read-in took place Oct. 28 during LGBTQ+ History Month celebrations at Salt Lake Community College.
Heather Graham, a writing consultant for the SLCC Student Writing and Reading Center, hosted the virtual read-in, which was held via Zoom.
“Words and stories are really, really important to social narratives of life and community and lived experience,” Graham said as she opened the event. “We wanted to take this time today … to celebrate some of those words and stories as members of queer communities, as allies and as advocates.”
The Student Writing and Reading Center, with help from the Creative Writing Group, organized the Rainbow Read-in, which focused on the voices of the queer community. Students, faculty and staff signed up to read works by their favorite LGBTQ+ authors, and some participants read their own pieces.
SLCC President Deneece Huftalin read the first piece, “Fourth Sign of the Zodiac” by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver.
“I love the idea of staging poets who identify as queer or part of the LGBTQ+ community during this month because I think it helps illuminate their unique contributions and value,” Huftalin said. “And I think in some ways it offers access to folks who may not otherwise associate a poem they love with someone who identifies as LGBTQ+ … hopefully a bridge to wider understanding and respect.”
SLCC student Ali Arbuckle shared a children’s book she is currently writing, called “What is Value?” Another student, Anna Petty, read from a flash narrative called “Survivor’s Guilt.”
Other works included poetry by authors such as W.H. Auden and Jericho Brown, as well as a personal essay from writer John Bonner. However, it was the personal works that seemed to resonate most with those in the virtual audience.
Peter Moosman, coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Student Resource Center, recited an untitled, autobiographical piece, which read in part: “Too many of my prayers focused on the request to be healed, cured, fixed, or saved from my same-sex attractions.”
As Moosman’s piece continued to his present self, it picked up with: “I remind myself that I am worthy of that love, and that it’s divinely affirmed when it does happen, will happen; it has happened … when you feel like letting go, hold tight.”
“The stories and poems shared today are just a small sliver of the experiences of those in this community and I am so proud of how SLCC came together to celebrate these words,” Graham said.
Visit the Rainbow Read-in program page to view the list of works read and a recording of the event.
Editor’s note: The Rainbow Read-in host, Heather Graham, is also on staff at The Globe as the assignment editor.