On Saturday June 8th, beginning at 10 am, the Chelmsford Library is hosting a Human Library event. Human libraries promote tolerance and understanding, are a celebration of diversity, and challenge stereotypes and assumptions. A Human Library encourages people from different backgrounds and experiences to learn about and from one another. Come have a conversation with our Human Books, volunteers from our community and beyond, who will be available to share stories about their life experiences.
- A Veteran with PTSD: Mass Casualties/ Civilianized: They say the Army makes a man out of you, but for eighteen-year-old SPC Michael Anthony, this fabled rite of passage is instead a dark and dangerous journey. After obtaining his parents’ approval to enlist at seventeen, Anthony begins this journey with an unshakeable faith in the military based on his family’s long tradition of service. But when he finds himself in a medical unit of misfits as lost as he is, Anthony not only witnesses firsthand the unspeakable horror of war, he experiences the undeniable misconduct of the military. Everything he’s ever believed in dissolves, forcing Anthony to rethink his ideals and ultimately risk his career—and his freedom—to challenge the military that once commanded his loyalty.
After twelve months of military service in Iraq, he stepped off a plane, seemingly happy to be home—or at least back on U.S. soil. He was twenty-one years old, a bit of a nerd, and carrying a pack of cigarettes that he thought would be his last. Two weeks later, Michael was high on Vicodin, drunk and drinking more, and picking a fight with a very large Hell’s Angel. At his wit’s end, he came to an agreement with himself: If things didn’t improve in three months, he was going to kill himself. (But in the meantime, he had some dating classes to attend.)
- A Woman with Bipolar Disorder: Silently Surfing the Waves of Bipolar Disorder: “I’ve struggled with mental illness for most of my life but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder last year that I really began to understand the severity of my illness. In hindsight, I can see symptoms of anxiety in many of my earliest memories and depression throughout my teen years. Yet, I mostly kept my struggles to myself. At first, I simply didn’t realize that others didn’t deal with these same issues, that it wasn’t normal to be so nervous and sad all of the time. When I began to realize I was depressed during my undergrad years, I sought help through therapy and medication. There was always this hope that things would get better–that I would get better. And I would, for a time. Things would be great! And then the tides would turn and I would come crashing back against the shore, soaking wet and having to start all over. How does one accept that, in some respects, there is no getting better? Or, if there is a “better,” there is also always a “worse” waiting for you?”
- A man who was wrongly convicted: The Truth Has Set Him Free: Imagine being convicted of a crime you didn’t do, only to be fully exonerated by DNA evidence after serving 19 years in prison? How do you make it through? What happens to your family and friends on the outside? Who continues to fight for you? Dennis was exonerated by DNA testing in 2003, after he was convicted of sexual assault and spent 19 years in prison. In 1983, Dennis was an Army sergeant assigned to Fort Devens and was arrested because he was wearing a red hoodie similar to the one worn by the actual perpetrator. His conviction was based on severely flawed eyewitness identification protocols. Once when asked how he saw his future, Dennis said that he would ultimately be exonerated by DNA evidence, start work two months after his release, get married and have children. Two months after his release Dennis was hired as a diesel mechanic for a local company, fell in love with and married Melissa and lives with her and their two children, Josh and Aliza. He serves on the Board of Trustees of The New England Innocence Project.
- A Drag Queen: Hostess with the Mostess/ We are the Champions: “I’m 37 years old and have been a drag queen for 20 years. In 2018, I was voted Entertainer of the Year by the Nashua Telegraph and in 2019, that name became even bigger when I was asked to host “Drag Queen Teen Time” at the Nashua Public Library. I expected this opportunity would be a platform for me to be a positive role model to teens, but about a week prior to the event, I became the center of intense controversy, attracting a great deal of media attention. I had to speak to two radio shows, TV News stations and 5 newspapers in matter of 5 days, in order to deflect false claims. But guess what? The library event went off without a hitch and I spent a half hour taking photos with everyone after. Because of this event and the positive awareness it sparked, I now HOST A RADIO SHOW!!!!! My show is called “Life’s A Drag” and it’s every Friday 8-9pm on WSMN 1590 and it can be caught live on Facebook or downloaded from wsmn1590.com.
“Outside of my life as Monique, I’m married to a wonderful man, and this year we adopted our first child. After being disappointed by one mom we received a phone call from the adoption agent to say she had a 3 year old boy for us to meet. We met him and his Grandma the same week and the rest is history. 11 months later on April Fools Day, we adopted him. Being a dad has been the craziest journey I have ever had. I’m also a salon owner and have owned my business for 8 years. I’m a nerd, gamer, horror fanatic and pug lover!”
- A Transgender Man: A Truth Enslaved No More: “I knew from the time I could form words that I was a boy. What I have come to realize in my own spiritual awakening is that I possess strong polarities of both the masculine and feminine. I am most comfortable presenting myself as male to the world. My life has been a metamorphosis from feeling like I don’t belong on this earth as a child and enduring a lonely and painful childhood and adolescence to becoming a stronger adult in the face of being ostracized, and leading a near solitary life after a string of rejection and heartbreak. The biggest obstacle for me as an emotionally profound person is overcoming a fear of investing emotionally in relationships and just taking a leap of faith. I have such gratitude to the Universe for what I am being shown, how I am being guided, and for the opportunities to imprint a part of my Being on the lives of those who seek to know me. I would like to share with people my story of awakening in hopes that it will inspire a belief that you are who you are, that no one and nothing can define you, and that the basis of life is freedom and the purpose of life is joy.”
- An Entrepreneur and Craft Brewer: Getting craft-y in NoCho: I first fell in love with craft beer when I lived in Tampa, FL. After long nights working in hospitality we couldn’t go to a bar because everything was closed by then. So a good friend and I would collect really good beer and share them as well as the trials and tribulations of the day. It felt great to have a drink and get lost in great conversation. It also helped that we lived in Tampa, FL that had an explosion of excellent beer. After moving with my wife to Chelmsford, and gaining expertise working in popular area restaurants, I felt a desire to focus solely on helping people enjoy the experience of being at the bar. When I was approached to begin a local craft beer and liquor store in Vinal Square I I wasn’t about to refuse. Liquor, beer, and wine can be very simple, very artistic, or anywhere in between. There is an abundance to explore and it’s only getting better. This is the journey I want to take the willing on. Cocktails can make conversation much easier and more fruitful. We all know it can make parties and entertaining more exciting. I would be a fool to turn a blind eye to the negative sides. But I strongly believe that through education it becomes less about becoming intoxicated and more about appreciating what someone has created and is proud of.
- A Gun Owner
- A Muslim person:
Sumaira Afzal is currently servingu as a member of Board of Directors in an Islamic relief organization, and National Coordinator of personal growth and development Dept. at a non profit Islamic organization. In the past she has served in HHRD board of directors, Outreach dept., Online Institute,national coordinator of children’s organization. She is actively conducting local and online Quran classes for Sisters and Youth, interfaith programs at libraries and churches, and premarital counseling for young couples. She is Sunday school program coordinator and head teacher. She holds Bachelors degree from Pakistan in Biology and Diploma in computer science. She has completed 10 Years of advanced Islamic studies from online Islamic institute of women based in Houston. Currently she is enrolled in Masters program in Islamic studies at IOU. She loves teaching ,reading and gardening.
Visit the Human Library Organization’s website to learn more about the project.
The goal of the Human Library is to challenge discrimination and prejudice by allowing our community to learn about the life experiences of those around them, encouraging a culture of diversity.
If you’d like to be a Book, sign up to share your story!