MARIN COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Robin Lowey is on a mission. The North Bay author maneuvers quickly around stacks of boxes cluttering her living room, each one packed with copies of her book, Game Changers: Lesbians You Should Know About.
As she cracks open a box, Lowey proudly declares that she “has about a 1,000 books in [her] living room.”
Lowey’s dining room table is also piled high with copies of the book. Crowded around the table are friends she’s recruited to help pack and ship it to public high schools all across the Bay Area for free.
So far, Lowey has donated around 1,500 copies to over 300 schools, reaching 300,000 students.
“I got the idea that I should be the one to create this fun book about lesbian heroes that are living who created queer culture now and they are sort of the people that young people today should consider as their heroes,” said Lowey. “I don’t know anyone who has ever done anything quite like this and I don’t know where it came from but it just kind of sprung out of me and I’ve just been enjoying the ride.”
A graphic designer by trade, Lowey created Game Changers to look and read like a graphic novel that showcases the crucial role lesbians have played in the LGBTQ movement. 30 women including Lowey herself have profiles that range from several pages to quick blurbs.
But all the women seem to leap off the book’s colorful pages like super heroines. Lowey says she enjoyed curating theses amazing stories.
“The criteria is that they are alive,” explained Lowey of how she selected her heroines. “And that they are over 50 and that they came out young and that they created significant cultural contributions to queer culture specifically.”
Lowey’s own journey as a lesbian mom of two sons, and her role as a guest educator on LGBTQ history for several Marin County public schools inspired the book as a way to educate others. Lowey says at times when she spoke in classrooms, she was surprised at students’ lack of knowledge about LGBTQ history.
“The kids, they ask questions that are startling to me,” said Lowey. “Like I’ll say a simple fact like the right for same sex marriage was passed nationally in 2015 and like a hand will shoot up and they will say, ‘Wait I didn’t know that.'”
Making sure every generation hears these ‘herstorys’ has become Lowey’s passion. So her classroom has expanded to include queer bars like Jolene’s in San Francisco — where she recently hosted a book signing — and political hot spots like Manny’s in the Mission, where those profiled in the book speak openly about their own journey.
Crystal Jang recalled her own experience as a young lesbian growing up in San Francisco’s Asian-American community.
“I was really looking for people like me,” said Jang.”I was looking to build community. I was trying to find a space that I felt comfortable in.”
Jang says writing her essay for the book brought back memories of fun times in 1960’s San Francisco. But the retired teacher is quick to point out we still have a long way go in both education and acceptance.
“When you talk about progress we have come a long way in terms of being visible,” explained Jang. “But we are still in the same sort of spot in terms of being understood.”
Which is why Lowey and her friends say they will not stop until every book in this living room has been signed, sealed and delivered.
“So that’s my mission and it’s happening,” said Lowey. “It’s really exciting.”
The book includes profiles on women in the military, legal experts, artists and educators. Lowey says there are many more women she would like to profile, so she is planning on publishing a second edition.