By Mark Clark, Dignity/Washington book club member
Dignity/Washington’s Dignity Center buzzes with activities many evenings throughout the year, but it wasn’t always that way. In the early 2000s, Stephen McDonnell, an active chapter member and presider, was the driving force behind a new activity that is now a mainstay of the center’s calendar: the book discussion group, otherwise known as the Book Club, or more correctly, the “Award Winning Book Club.” (In 2010, then-President Allen Rose selected the Book Club to receive the chapter’s President’s Award; the plaque hangs proudly in the center.) Stephen and a few other reading enthusiasts would gather from time to time after reading a book to discuss it. Although it started out informally, before long the Book Club became a regular, weekly event, listed in the printed bulletin. According to Dignity Center manager Rick Lynch, the first formally announced Book Club meeting took place on May 15, 2003.
In the early days most of the books related to serious matters, often either spirituality or the LGBT community. As years went by, members wanted to shift to lighter fare for summer reading, and novels, usually LGBT-themed, were chosen when a good book for the beach was timely. More recently, the light reading option became a year-round feature. Typically, the Club will select four books at a time, two serious and two either fiction or a light topic. Members can then obtain the books in plenty of time to start reading. Reading assignments are usually light enough not to be a burden, 50 or 75 pages at a time.
A comprehensive list of books read by the chapter’s book club members can be found on the Dignity/Washington website.