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  • Inclusion and Social Awareness
  • Erasmus+

Love is Love: A Human Library Event

Agora Aveiro hosts Pride event celebrating the voices of the LGBTQIA+ community in an opportunity for open dialogue and informal conversation to break down prejudices.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes and 20 seconds

© João Simões

In celebration of Pride month, members of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and plus) community shared their stories to interested attendees in the “Human Library”. This “living library” event is meant to amplify voices of the community to help break down prejudices and build inclusive societies.

The Human Library concept started in 2000 in Denmark when two brothers debuted the event at a festival. The concept is based around creating opportunities for open dialogue without prejudice, encouraging people to “unjudge” each other. Since then it has grown exponentially. Interested participants, mostly members from a marginalized community, volunteer as “books” to share their stories and experiences in small groups or one-on-one conversations. “Readers” attend the event to engage in short, informal conversations with the “books”. By getting to know people from marginalized communities, barriers are broken down, leading to more inclusive societies for all.

With the concept of a “living library” in mind, Agora Aveiro knew it would be a great opportunity to highlight the voices of members from the LGBTQIA+ community. After several successful Human Libraries featuring immigrant and refugee populations, the Pride month kickoff event took place at the Claustros da Santa Casa da Misericórdia  (cloister of the Misericordia Church) on June 3rd. In the framework of the “Solidarity Superheroes” project, financed by the European Solidarity Corps  Programme of the European Commission, and with the support of Marcha LGBTI+ Aveiro, six “books” sat down to tell their stories. Around 50 “readers”, ages 10 - 70+ stopped by for the two hour event, ranging from Portuguese to Brazilian to American. Some readers stayed for the entirety of the event, speaking to multiple “books” and expressing interest in participating at the next Human Library event as “books”. A group of “readers” even came from Croatia as they were in Aveiro for an Erasmus project. They could not have been more pleased with the event, expressing interest to host their own Human Library in Split. 

“The most interesting “books” I’ve ever “read”. It was really a wonderful experience, very inspiring.” (Gorana, reader, Croatia)

“It was an amazing experience. Each person had their own unique story to tell and I am grateful I got the chance to hear them.” (Bruna, reader, Croatia)

“It was pleasant to "read" all the books. Every book was a new and unique experience and I was so honored to be part of it.” (Ana, reader, Croatia)

“I'm so glad I got to sit down and hear all the stories. Each person offered a unique perspective and taught us once again not to judge a book by its cover.” (Mia, reader, Croatia)

While the event had a successful turnout, the most important successes came from within. Our six books spoke from their hearts and helped amplify the voices of others who might be afraid or ashamed to speak. 

“It was great seeing all those people from different backgrounds talking and learning together peacefully”. (MJ, book, Portugal)

Our books spoke for those who were there to listen as allies, other members of the community, or even those who had questions themselves. While there are still people who do not feel comfortable in their own skin because they belong to a sexual minority, we all need to work together to break down these prejudices and treat everyone with respect and dignity, no matter their origins or sexual orientation. Thus, we will continue to work to “unjudge someone” and to promote the act of “unjudging” in the Aveiro community at large. 

This Human Library happened in the framework of ESC “Solidarity Superheroes” project. It was made in a partnership with  Marcha LGBTI+ Aveiro and with support of Santa Casa da Misericordia de Aveiro.

Agora Aveiro