Another Read Through is a charming bookstore on North Mississippi Avenue that provides an appealing mix of new books from local authors and used books from a wider range of authors and genres. Staffed by friendly folks, the store hosted the official launch for Karelia Stetz-Waters’s Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before on Sunday, November 16. Another Read Through’s event space is small, intended to seat about thirty people, but the event was packed with closer to fifty people; it was standing room only before anyone even stepped up to the podium. Thanks to the Eisenhower Bagelhouse, an abundance of free coffee was available to attendees after the reading and panel discussion.
Elisa, Another Read Through’s owner, began with a touching introduction detailing how her personal attachment to Stetz-Waters’s writing led her to stock her books in the store. She was followed by Ooligan’s own Jess Miller, who has been with the press since Forgive Me was acquired. Stetz-Waters shared elements of the long but rewarding journey with Ooligan Press that brought Forgive Me to publication. The highlight of the event was her animated and thoughtful reading from the chapter “Dance, Then, Wherever You May Be,” which is available to watch in the video below.
Following the reading, the discussion opened up to George Nicola, a longtime Oregon LGBTQ rights activist who represents the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest, an organization dedicated to LGBTQ history. He focused on Oregon’s fraught track record with the LGBTQ community, which includes thirty-five attempts to ban same-sex marriage or homosexuality in some form or another; these are not only measures that made it onto a ballot (such as the antigay Ballot Measure 9 from the early ’90s, featured in Forgive Me’s plot), but also those that never left the state legislature. Equally upsetting is the fact that statewide civil rights protection was not achieved until 2007. Mr. Nicola then handed it over to lawyer Lea Ann Easton of Dorsay & Easton, LLP, who was an integral part of the legal team that worked to strike down Oregon’s same-sex marriage ban last year. She discussed the intricacies of the legal process, as well as the landmark 2012 tax lawsuit originating in New York state, Windsor v. United States, which allowed states to contest same-sex marriage bans through lawsuits rather than by altering state constitutions.
Thoughtful events like these demonstrate the care with which Ooligan approaches the publishing process and release of each title. It was heartwarming to hear the author’s side of the journey and positive experiences with Ooligan, and I think the attendees appreciated the chance to not only hear Karelia Stetz-Waters read from her novel but also to find out more about the LGBTQ struggle for equality in Oregon. The continued support of Another Read Through, the fans, and LGBTQ celebrities like Tegan and Sara confirm the importance of Triinu’s story.