Sex and Salt Lake City

A sex library

I am one who loves to read. Not on a screen, but books. Old books; new books; mystery; science fiction; historical; biographies; The list of interests goes on and on. The one genre I’m rarely interested in reading, with the exception of author Anaïs Nin, is sexual. I supposed it’s because my entire career is spent absorbing sexual literature, research, and articles on a daily basis. So with that, it’s ironic that a couple of years ago I inherited a library. Yes, an entire library which is primarily comprised of homoerotic and sexual literature. Magazines, articles, papers, books, etc. Many of which are out of print, but still incredibly telling of past times and the journey many have taken to pave the way for the rest of us in our sexual, relational, and gender liberties.

The library came about when the founder of where I earned my graduate degree died. At the time, the library was considered the largest of its kind in the world. It may or may not still be true, but it’s certainly large enough to fill a decent-sized book store. I have always felt the need to preserve it simply for its historical content, but have never pushed to do anything more with it. The contents have quietly sat in storage. That is, until this past weekend.

This past weekend my oldest grand kiddo turned 12. I traveled to California to spend the weekend with her. The plan was to stay in a fancy hotel and order in whatever foods she wanted and stream whatever movies she was interested in. Until … I asked if she wanted to go anywhere (that was open of course). Also an avid reader, she said, “The Bookstore!” So to the bookstore we went.

We each shopped in our sections of interest and after an hour or so met up with books we’d found. Back at the hotel, she proceeded to read one of her finds … and read, and read, and read, going through the entire novel in a single day, just before bed she asked: “Can we go back?” Knowing she still had a few other books she hadn’t touched I wondered what piqued her interest so much about this particular book. With eyes beaming with excitement she exclaimed, “I never even knew this genre existed! I can relate to the characters so much!” She shared the premise of the book she had fallen in love with. It was about a young adolescent’s struggle with coming out and having feelings for a friend of the same sex. She then went on to share that her own crush was a same-sex best friend of hers who had since moved away. All this she shared so matter of factly, without shame. My Glamma heart beamed! Her excitement that there was literature that represented her was palpable.

So first thing the next morning, back to the bookstore we went, this time introducing her to the LGBT+ section. Her eyes lit up and she then spent the next two hours looking through everything. When we eventually left she had an armful of books and a list of others to order as soon as these were done.

For much of the rest of the day, she and I sat at the park reading, and my thoughts trailed back to the library I have in storage. How much of that literature, magazines, papers, books, articles, etc. had done the same for so many other people over the years. While I’m well aware of the power of books to take us away on an adventure to unknown lands, the excitement coming from my granddaughter reminded me of the power books have to take us further into ourselves, specifically to a place of self-acceptance and personal love. I felt disappointed in myself for sitting on so much valuable literature for so long, but also grateful that this amazing kiddo reminded me of the healing magic held between pages of a well-written, relatable book.

Back home, I took a visit to my storage unit and wrote letters to a couple of universities that have expressed interest in the library. But my thoughts kept trailing to what can be done to share this treasure trove with those most appreciative. First things first, I need to hire a couple of people to come help catalog and then begin the arduous task of creating online content so the most eyes can see the history, passion, persistence, and hard work so many of our LGBT+ elders did for us. As well as recognize that if not for the excitement of a budding 12-year-old, it might all just still sit.

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a Clinical Sexologist with a virtual private practice. She can be reached at

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a graduate level Clinical Sexologist, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Human Sexuality. As a Clinical Sexologist, she believes a large part of her job is to be a sex enabler. Through counseling, workshops, and hands on exercises, she assists others in achieving the level of sexual function they desire. She enjoys the study and research of not only what people are doing sexually, but how they feel about it. Dr. Laurie divides her time between Los Angeles California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to seeing clients in either of her offices or via skype, she is President for the non-profit, Sex Positive Los Angeles inc. (SPLA) and recently began a chapter in Salt Lake City, (SP-SLC). Her non-profit offers sexual education and support programs throughout Los Angeles and Salt Lake Counties. Rounding off her work, she is an IPSA certified Surrogate Partner Therapist working with clients and therapists in a triadic model to assist in bringing clients comfortable with their sexual selves. Dr. Laurie can be found in various publications; radio, podcast, and television interviews. For individual consultations or appointments please contact her at Welcoming and affirming of all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all sexual and relationship expressions.

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