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COMMUNITY PROFILE: Caleb Rainey shares his passion for learning through book club

SAN DIEGO -- Caleb Rainey is passionate about creating dialogue within the LGBT community. So passionate, in fact, that he started a local book club to discuss issues that affect the community, such as racism, internalized homophobia, sexual violence and anti-immigrant attitudes.

Rainey says that many of these attitudes are prevalent within the community - especially with the vast amount of diversity that exists among LGBT people - but are rarely discussed. He wants to change this and is doing what he can to start these important conversations.

The 24-year-old Colorado native spends his days working as the office/production assistant for San Diego Civic Youth Ballet.

Rainey graduated from San Diego State University last December with a master of arts in cultural studies. He has been in San Diego for about three years, and is single.

Read more about Rainey, his passions and his new book club below - he'd love to see you at the next session!

What organization(s) do you volunteer for, and why?

I work with the San Diego Multicultural LGBT Book Club. I started the organization to help promote and preserve works by LGBT authors of color while simultaneously building cross-racial/cross-cultural understanding, historical literacy, and social justice activism. We meet at 7 pm at Bluestocking Books on 5th Avenue every first and third Sunday of each month.

The book club can be reached by email at lgbtdiversitybookclub@yahoo.com or on Facebook at San Diego Multicultural LGBT Book Club.

We read one book a month and we have free books for those who cannot afford them. We have a lively discussion that is somewhere in-between literary and political and we laugh a lot. Our book for this month is Shyam Selvadurai’s "Funny Boy" and our April selection is Native American novelist and poet Paula Gunn Allen’s "Woman Who Owned the Shadows."

We have a meeting this Sunday, March 17, so join us even if you have not read a book since your days in school!

What motivates you to do the volunteer work you do?

I am motivated because conversations around issues like racism, internalized homophobia, sexual violence and anti-immigrant attitudes are rarely talked about in our community even though our community encompasses an enormous amount of diversity. I am also passionate about promoting literacy in all its forms and critical thinking among LGBT people so our community is well-equipped to address some of the major issues of our time. I want our community to be a welcoming and safe place for all our members and not just a select few. I am passionate about preserving and continuing our historical legacy and literary heritage because I believe it is a beautiful heritage that many of us know very little about.

What is something that many people do not know about you?

I was home-schooled from K-12 by my Baptist parents.

What would you like to see change in the LGBT community?

I would love for us as a community to realize that every issue is deeply interconnected. I would love for us to act from this recognition and take up causes that are not thought of as "gay issues" such as racism, economic justice and environmentalism. I would also love to see a multi-racial and multi-gendered organization created that specifically represents and supports LGBT people of color in San Diego.

What do you like most about the local LGBT community? I love our resilience and openness. I love that no matter how many attempts at assimilation are made, that somehow, someway we remain queer in the best sense of the word. I also adore the fact that we are so involved in the local government.

What sorts of things do you do to enrich your social life other than volunteering?

I love to read, I am learning Spanish, and enjoy spending time in the "gayborhood."

If you could host a dinner party and invite three people (dead or alive), who would they be and why?

Audre Lorde, because she laid the foundation for my political thinking; Carl Wittman, because he wrote the first radical gay manifesto way before we gained any power; and Essex Hemphill, because his poetry is beautiful.

Anything else you’d like to say about yourself, your volunteer work, your work or any special projects you’re involved with?

My book club just started a scholarship fund so we can start buying new LGBT books through our local book stores and giving them away to people regardless of income to help support our authors and promote reading in our community. If you are interested in donating to the scholarship contact Bluestocking Books for more information or email me at lgbtdiversitybooks@yahoo.com. Other than that all I can say is COME!

Left image: Shyam Selvadurai’s "Funny Boy" is the next book that the book club will read and discuss.

If you or someone you know should be profiled on SDGLN contact Ben Cartwright at ben@sdgln.com.