Monday, 13 August 2012

Being published as an undergrad: The fast track to academia

As a gay teenager, growing up in regional Western Australia was not easy. It meant that my only resource, my only connection to the wider LGBTI community was though my local public library. Because of this, as a librarian, I am passionate about providing services for the LGBTI community though libraries. 

So I started writing short stories and essays, which I sent to magazines, and would occasionally get published. This turned into Tweeting, and blogging, and eventually, writing academic papers. Right now, I have two papers in the works. The first is being published in Gay and lesbian issues and psychology , the second is to be presented at the International Conference for the Future of LGBTI Histories in Archives, Libraries, Museums and Special Collections. 

This is almost unheard of for an undergraduate. As partner put it, “being published as an undergrad is the fast-track to academia”. But you know what? I am not interested. As much as I love promoting a form of inclusiveness that is often overlooked in libraries, it isn’t what I want to do full time. At least, not within academic circles.

I am currently the Library Assistant at Family Planning WA Sexual Health Library, and I love it. Today, I sent 100 condoms to a remote indigenous community, to be distributed to teenagers that probably couldn’t afford condoms, even if they could find somewhere to buy them. Last week, I referred a friend of a friend to our People 1st Program, which provides sexual health education to people with intellectual disabilities. Last month, I spent the afternoon unpacking newly arrived pink rubber dildos, which we repackage and sell to schools as “condom demonstrators”. 

I am changing lives, both within the LGBTI community, and other high-risk demographics of our community. And nothing can beat the feeling it gives me when a 50 year old woman comes in to tell me that a book I recommended helped her achieve her first ever orgasm.

By Suzie Day

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