Monday, April 28, 2014

Teen-Services Librarian Also a Punk-Drag Activist

"If you told me at eighteen that I would want to be a librarian, I would have said that you were crazy," Wick Thomas told Library Journal, which in March selected Thomas as one of its Movers & Shakers for the year 2014.
Wick Thomas sees a career as an advocate in the stacks.
Photo by Sabrina Staires for The Pitch

Thomas works at the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Missouri, where he handles teen services, which includes organizing teen gaming events and other programs. He also does outreach to area high schools. Among his outreach projects is Unheard Voices, a teen literary and art zine that featured the work of about 30 local teenagers in its first edition. Started with the help of young library users in the summer of 2013, Unheard Voices is now distributed to schools and libraries throughout Kansas City. Speaking to Library Journal, Thomas said, "The zine has been an amazing success."

In addition to his work in teen services at the Kansas City Public Library, Thomas is also a self-proclaimed punk-drag activist. While still in high school in rural Missouri, he founded his school's chapter of the Gay-Straight Alliance, which is a student-led organization that provides a safe, accepting, and supportive space for gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and questioning students at school. In college, he served as the president of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Queer Alliance. 

Today, Thomas is president of Empowering Queer Activists and Leaders (EQUAL), which offers activist and leadership training. However, he is currently "terming out of office for EQUAL," he told The Pitch. An alternative newspaper that is "Kansas City's leading source of sophisticated information," The Pitch recently interviewed Thomas about his life, his activism, and his library work. In the interview, which is in a breezy, easy-to-read questionnaire format, Thomas addresses the following:

Soapbox issues: "We have to support access to public services, protect public education, and move toward universal health care."

Brush with fame: "I was backstage at the True Colors tour and got to dance onstage with Cyndi Lauper during "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," met my idol Joan Jett, made friends with Margaret Cho, sang the finale onstage with Erasure and the B-52's, and then drank with the Blackhearts afterward. That was a good day."

Recent triumph: "I am on the March cover of Library Journal for the work I am doing in the library world. I get to help decide which book will receive the Stonewall Book Award this year and have some really exciting partnerships coming up with local schools and governments. Outside of that, I am terming out of office for EQUAL, a youth empowerment nonprofit that I helped found, and am incredibly proud of the work being done by the young people I've mentored."

For more of The Pitch interview with Wick Thomas, go to THIS LINK. He is truly a Mover & Shaker, as recognized by Library Journal, and is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

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