The idea of living library café actually stem from another idea of introducing a knowledge café for black gay and bisexual men which out of discussions at our monthly Heart Circle meetings. I found it was very much needed as black gay, bisexual and trans men like talking about issues very close to home, thus believe it could be a platform to launch other initiatives from which in the past got started but never realized its full potential. So happens we are constantly re-inventing the wheel but never actually adding on or building up structures.
Researched the idea of a living library from online sources, and found the main purpose of establishing one was to foster a positive mental outlook that encourages social interactions and cooperation amongst individuals in a community. I believed creating one at London Friend would be an interesting way of breaking down stereotypes and prejudices among black gay, bisexual and trans men. It is also another way for us to use spaces which reflect our reality, and our journeys as to where we are right now.
The concept of a living library is based on the coming together of individuals like ourselves from all walks of life in open and safe environment. Volunteer books are real people who are able to communicate their personal reality to the volunteer user selecting that experience thus helping to break down stereotypes and challenge attitudes about difference by fostering understanding among diverse members of our community. Also thought it would much powerful than knowledge café idea, as a living library café idea would draw out some very interesting dialogues amongst ourselves. How would this work?
Readers would be greeted by volunteer librarians and invited to select titles representing the "living books" available. The reader then "borrows" a book who is able to talk and answer questions in an open manner about their personal life experiences and values in order to advance the reader's understanding of their reality. Why would they want to participate?
The main reason for setting this initiative up would be to provide opportunities for learning while instilling a lifelong habit of questioning cherished assumptions that can paralyse our own growth, then the benefit would be to challenge members of the black lgbt community to examine their beliefs and attitudes towards difference.