Here's the story behind the project.
My name is Josh and I identify as a cisgender gay man. When I was in high school (shout out to the class of 2014), I found it difficult to connect to anything I read in class or at home. I often avoided reading because the material I had access to made me feel insecure about being different. I also struggled to find access to age-appropriate LGBTQIA+ material. The internet became my source of information. I would read stories on Tumblr and Twitter, and followed accounts where people shared their experiences. Often times the material was a bit too mature, but it was what I had. It was what I could relate to. When I turned 16 and had a car plus a debit card, I would pre-order LGBTQIA+ coming-of-age novels to the nearest Barnes and Noble. Those stories and characters helped me tremendously before I was ready to accept who I was as a young person in this confusing world.
My goal with Project Open Books is to provide people with stories they can connect with and feel empowered by. I want people to know that they are not alone in their journey of self-discovery. I want to help young people in communities that don’t have a Barnes and Noble or a public library with diverse literature. I want to reach people who struggle in their own skin, or those who are stuck in households where being different is dangerous. It’s my goal to create a sense of community through reading. It’s my hope this project can help change lives, spread love and promote simply wonderful stories from writers who dedicate their lives to providing us with such content.
So let's open a book together and hope it leads to an open door.
Artwork by @designedbybrit | Britney Diana