Spectrum Book Club focuses on a spectrum of characters


Ry X

Belmont Library teen supervisor Kayla Figard tapes up flyers to advertise teen programs like Spectrum.

Ry X, Social Media Director

Characters from books, movies, and television series serve as role models and inspiration for everyone, whether young or old. For many, it is still hard to find a character that resonates with and resembles them.

Books with LGBTQ characters are rare and books with well-written LGBTQ characters are even more rare.

In 2015, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) found that 4 percent of television characters were gay, lesbian, or bisexual in their “Where We Are on T.V.” report, which is the same percentage of openly LGBTQ people in the United States in 2011. But there are many different types of sexualities, and many do not get any recognition in media.

Here at Carlmont, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) started thinking about a book club to focus on reading books with LGBTQ characters.

When Julia Clark, a junior, brought the idea to the Belmont Library, the planning started. The library’s teen program adviser Kayla Figard worked with Clark to organize the program, hoping to spread more awareness on the subject.

“Libraries have historically been safe havens for many different types of people,” said Figard. “Now more than ever we need to ensure that we are a welcoming place for all people, and Spectrum provides that space.”

On Jan. 23, students gathered at the Belmont Library for the first meeting of the new book club, now named Spectrum. 

“Spectrum is a space where LGBTQ teens can see themselves in their favorite characters,” said Clark. “Representation is really important, whether it’s race, sexuality, religion, or even appearance.”

Representation is really important, whether it’s race, sexuality, religion, or even appearance.”

— Julia Clark

As a member of the LGBTQ community, Clark feels that if they had grown up reading books with characters like her, coming to terms with sexuality would be simpler.

“I think that this group is going to help other people come to terms with their sexuality, or maybe with the fluidity of their gender,” said Gloria Capulong, a junior who attended the meeting.

The club will focus on reading books either about or written by LGBTQ people, which is what makes it different from many other reading clubs. One of the obstacles with that is the fact that there are simply not enough books where LGBTQ characters are written as any other ordinary character.

“You never read books where the character is gay and they don’t only focus on that part of them,” said Capulong. “The character’s sexuality shouldn’t be the focus of their entire life. We go to school and work, and our lives aren’t built entirely around our sexuality.”

However, Spectrum is not only a book club. During every other meeting, members will focus on taking action within the community, and not just within Carlmont.

“We’re hoping to make a change on a community level,” said Clark. “While Carlmont may be generally accepting, not everyone in our area is in an accepting environment. Not everyone grows up in accepting environments.”