A New Story: ReadOut and the LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Library

Susan Gore, Board President, LGBTQ Resource Center

It may take a village to accomplish changes with lasting social impact, but every village needs a leader. The LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Public Library is blessed with several.

At 85, Edie Daly is a force of nature. Tech savvy and with energy to spare, Edie was part of the Womyn’s Energy Bank that seeded the Gulfport Library’s LGBTQ Resource Center with a donation of 200+ lesbian-themed books. Today, the Resource Center offers more than 8,000 books, CD and other media on LGBTQ topics to patrons across Pinellas County. It is the only such center in a public library in Florida.

When the Resource Center organized ReadOut: A Festival of Lesbian Literature in February 2020, Edie and her 91-year-old wife, Jackie, donated travel costs for Nia and Ness, two young Black lesbians from New York City, who complement their powerful written messages with dance. It was the last live event held at the Gulfport Library, attracting a capacity crowd of 145, including 23 authors, before COVID restrictions took hold.

Undaunted by the Library’s closure, Edie teamed up with Susan Gore, the Resource Center board president, to strategize how to expand connections among authors and readers during the shut-down. Library Director, David Mather, also stepped forward in his dual role as IT Director for Gulfport. Together with just five other Resource center board members and ReadOut participants, the festival morphed into 26 hours of Zoom-based programming that reached almost 1,000 participants from 22 countries, with 101 authors speaking on everything from writing across communities to the relationship between Queer Theology and Christianity.

With a growing cadre of volunteers, Edie and Susan expect continued growth in 2022 as the LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Library again sponsors ReadOut to create a new story for lovers of lesbian literature, reaching across Tampa Bay and the world.

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