Helping young queer people find a safe space to make connections and find their own voice.
Against the backdrop of shrinking spaces for civil society in Poland, the LGBTQ+ community in Lublin desperately needs safe places where they can come together and find books and other resources that are relevant to their lives.
The library Biblioteka Azyl has been providing a home for meetings with LGBTQ+ authors, a queer book club, open discussions and workshops. But the library and local community wanted to find new ways to encourage young queer people to find their voice – providing tools that would help them learn how to organise cultural events, spark new encounters and reach out to other communities facing oppression across Europe. 150 people attended the first Queering Lublin event.
The core idea behind the initiative is to provide funds and other support to give local queer people the opportunity to share their art, ideas and other dreams through a mixture of organised and co-organised cultural events. Together they collect ideas for events through social media and live meet ups, which they will then evaluate together with the community before deciding which ideas to bring to life.
According to the challenge team, they have found a good structure for community engagement and now they want to further develop and test this model – working in close collaboration with the local community. They also want to work on becoming more visible.
“The most important part of the process for us is to create relationships between Biblioteka Azyl and the local community that will flourish and expand beyond the Europe Challenge timelines,” they said. “Our dream is to continue creating opportunities for our community members, to feel like their various social and political predicaments are valued.”
The challenge team would also like to scale up in future by partnering with other initiatives – potentially co-creating and repeating the Queering Lublin initiative to connect libraries and communities across Europe.