This year I have been lucky enough to be part of the CAVAL professional mentoring program and this month I am drawing on reflections following on from our most recent networking event on ‘Authenticity, Credibility, Competence: Are virtues in character important in career trajectory and leadership strategy?’. Vicki McDonald started by talking about lessons she had learned about leading staff through change and we were then asked to think about values and character strengths that resonated with us and reflect on colleagues or leaders in our lives who have demonstrated them in an exercise of appreciative inquiry. If we were feeling brave enough to do do so, we were even encouraged to share what we’d written with those we had written about. Inspired by this and this month’s GLAM blog club theme, I thought I would reflect on and acknowledge some of the queeroes and allies who have helped me end up here. It has also accidentally turned into a recommended reading list… so I guess my librarian instinct is strong.
I am still fairly new to this GLAMorous life, so a lot of these queeroes and allies are from my life before libraries who have have very much influenced the kind of librarian I am now and the librarian (and perhaps even leader) I strive to be. New Cardigan and this GLAM blog club have helped me connect with some amazing queeroes and allies within GLAM (thank you!). The values and character strengths that resonated most with me were justice (including citizenship, fairness and leadership), wisdom and knowledge (particularly creativity and open mindedness), courage (including bravery, integrity, persistence and vitality), humanity (particularly social intelligence and kindness), and transcendence (particularly hope and humour).
I feel very lucky to be able to say that my dad is one of my queeros. As a social worker and artist, he helped instil creativity and openmindness, a strong sense of and commitment to justice and an appreciation of beauty and excellence in me and my brothers. We spent quite a lot of time at the local library in Williamstown and later St Kilda when staying with him on weekends. He has worked in community engagement management roles in a few different local councils (often with responsibility for libraries) which definitely helped me discover the importance of and the potentially even greater power of public libraries quite early in life. He was also on his local council’s LGBTIQ advisory committee in Melbourne’s western suburbs and helped supervised the social work placement students who created this WESTANDPROUD project. A colleague of his once said that ‘he didn’t just think outside the square, but he actually just didn’t see the square’ which I think illustrates his penchant for creativity and non-conformity at work and in life… and it is something to which I can increasingly relate. My mum is an amazing ally. She is a very hard working and dedicated teacher at a local school, with a particular passion for teaching inclusive sex education and supporting student wellbeing. She is part of her local council’s equity, access, diversity and inclusion advisory committee. She is so kind and caring. She recently discovered this blog (hi mum!) and is pretty proud. My parents taught my brothers and I to be reflective and creative, and to help people and advocate for social justice at work and in life in general. This is nicely reflected in the fact that they raised a musician, a librarian and a gardener who help their communities in complementary and creative ways.
My friends Han and Dani are two social worker queeros in my life who inspire so much of my work in librarianship and have also helped me be more open about my experiences with mental illness. They have also taught me (and often need to remind me) about importance of self care.
Steph Amir is another queero and a real life Leslie Knope. She has worked for the Safe Schools Coalition at the Foundation for Young Australians, and is now a councillor for Darebin and works for a program designed to help women get into politics. Until very recently, she was also on the board of Joy Radio station. She is so enthusiastic, strong and compassionate. She has helped me become a more inclusive facilitator and activist.
LGBTIQA+ rights and education activist, Daniel Witthaus, is a queero who has taught me the power of stories and tea.
Check out his book:
Bob Brown, the first openly gay member of the Parliament of Australia, and the first openly gay leader of an Australian political party, is another queero. He was a pretty quiet yet strong public figure and leader which gives me hope that I will be able to be a leader one day too… although probably not on such a large scale. He is such an inspiring idealistic, resilient, compassionate and alturistic visionary human. Like Bob, I have learned how much action and striving for change can inspire optimism.
Check out his book:
Optimism : reflections on a life of action / Bob Brown
One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to work with a lot of academic queeroes… I value wisdom and knowledge very highly and sometimes I feel a little starstruck when I get to talk to them (they’ve probably noticed), but I’m starting to get used to it. I love that they don’t keep their knowledge and wisdom locked in an ivory tower but rather use it for community engagement and fostering social justice.
I thought I would share some of the words a few of them have shared before and during this postal survey period:
My first time at Equal Love By Carolyn D’Cruz
I can’t stop crying… by Quinn Eades
A non-binding poll: how bizarre by Dennis Altman
Also check out All the beginnings: a queer autobiography of the body by Quinn Eades.
And Writing from below: an open access journal started and edited by Quinn… Feat. even more queeroes.
I am particularly grateful to Tim for inviting me to join the Australian and Lesbian and Gay Archives committee where I have met even more queeroes, including a few GLAMorous ones, such as Nick Henderson. Nick is so dedicated to the archives and does great LGBTIQA+ community engagement, and has worked at the National Library and National Gallery, and currently works at the National Film and Sound Archives, which probably makes him the most GLAMorous person I know. If I hadn’t had the courage and been inspired by all of the above queeroes to be out at work, I suspect I would not have connected with Tim on the same level and would not be on ALGA’s committee.
My colleague, Mina, has been an incredible ally at work and she is who I wrote my initial appreciative inquiry about. She is so welcoming to everyone and so great at connecting people. She has a strong commitment to justice and I have admired how she has started to build a more proactively inclusive mindset in our library. She worked with student wellbeing to develop and co-facilitate a training session about inclusion on a macro and micro level (feat. Judith Butler in the documentary Examined life) to help representatives from all teams engage in more inclusive practice and plant seeds for inclusive practice throughout their teams. Mina and I have collaborated to create a book display for IDAHOBIT and start a cross campus, cross team journal club…
Watch this documentary:
Examined life by Astra Taylor
Finally, I started by mentioning the CAVAL mentoring program and thought I would finish by mentioning my mentor, Marion, who has been an amazing ally at a time when I have needed one more than ever. She seems like a really great feminist manager, librarian and leader, and I feel so lucky. I think I would be a lot more cynical or less optimistic about our profession and industry at the moment if I had not met her.
These people give me strength and courage to speak up and try to create a better world, and have all helped me stay optimistic in dark times.