Our minds are very similar whether you’re male or female. Virginia Woolf said that the imagination is androgynous — the way we think, the way we experience the world is universal. But we go through the world in these bodies and the male body and the female body are very different… Things that are very physical are hard to imagine, and that’s when getting your best female friend to read a passage and tell you if it sounds truthful is very helpful.
I wrote a sex scene from the point of view of a woman and I was very happy when a friend said to me, “God, how did you get that right?” So there are places the imagination can go. My life is filled with men and women so being a part of what you do as a writer is observe, and if you have an open mind you can take a lot in and that helps you put a lot out as a writer. Sometimes the things you get wrong are the kind of language people use… Writing is all words, so sometimes it’s just about the choice of words.
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I was first approached by Magnet to help moderate their monthly book club. In that time, we’ve read fantastic fiction and non-fiction spanning generations, from queer classics by Gore Vidal and Andrew Holleran to contemporary favorites by John Waters and Patti Smith.
I’m incredibly grateful to Magnet — a men’s health center in the Castro — for aiming beyond their conventional role, picking up where A Different Light left off and being supportive of creating a literary community in the neighborhood. Huge thanks are also in order to the SF AIDS Foundation, the Huffington Post, the SF Bay Guardian, Queerty, Lambda Literary, LitSeen, Accidental Bear and Dorothy’s Closet for all their support.
In 2012 we decided to raise the bar by reaching out to local queer authors and inviting them to participate. These photos were taken by Alex Bernardin at our our first meeting with the author of We the Animals, Justin Torres, whom I interviewed beforehand for SFBG.com. In February, we will welcome Kemble Scott, author of SoMa. And in March, we’ll host K.M. Soehnlein, author of The World of Normal Boys.
The Castro Courier featured our book club on the front page of their February issue. Here is the complete, unedited interview I did with writer Lisa Gunther:
What inspired you to start a book club?
The Castro – so that it doesn’t turn into a neighborhood of crowded bars, tacky 2-4-1 sunglass stores and over-priced soup shops.
Why do you think the Magnet is a good venue for a book club?
Because Magnet has done a great job of making a community centered around the arts and self-improvement. If there were a similar community space for every bar in the Castro that hasn’t passed a sanitary inspection, imagine the culture we could create.
Was it a challenge to get together? How did you reach out to the authors?
Getting together was not a challenge. Every person I talked to was excited to join. There was definitely a need for an event like this. I used to be the events coordinator at A Different Light bookstore, which originally partnered with Magnet to do this book club so I had met a lot of queer authors over the years. Justin Torres I met at the Lambda Literary writer’s retreat.