Options Magazine visited Red Ink Library for a film screening and discovered among the anti-capitalist books and socialist leaflets, not just a space for the Left, but also a wonderful new space in Providence welcoming to Queer and Trans people.
On a cold Saturday afternoon, I visited Red Ink Library for a screening of Selene Means’ “The Time Is Already,” a film about Rhode Island’s banning of conversion therapy. I, myself, was utterly unaware of the existence of Red Ink Library. No, it’s not a tattoo parlor… it’s a library, with space for anyone to come in and rest their body. It is a relatively new space, it launched September 4.
After the screening, the panel, and a conversation with Means, I silently watched guests mingle and perused the screening space. I was a stranger to all, which made me curious about who I was surrounded by. Means introduced me to some folks, which helped me build up the courage to ask them some questions.
Red Ink’s founders, David Raileanu (he/him) and Jackie Goldman (them/them), wanted to create a space accessible to all people, and they put a lot of effort into making it so. Goldman explained, “I was inspired to join Red Ink because I see it as a huge asset to the Providence organizing community, into the city in general.”
Raileanu told me how many groups needed a space to meet, "after the protests and activism we saw last year, many political organizations in Providence were able to grow through virtual meetings” and that “as we were coming out of the in-person pandemic restrictions, many of those groups were looking for a place to meet. That spurred us to develop a place like Red Ink."
They consider what people want to see when they come into Red Ink looking for a comfortable space. They have books for all ages, including children’s books that anyone can go in and take off the shelf to peruse. Goldman told me that Red Ink “is a space where people can gather and work together with a focus on accessibility. They're very few spaces where people can come together without having to spend money or worry about the barriers for entry. Red Ink seems to be that place.”
When starting the library, finding a space for their vision was part of the battle, but it was so rewarding when they found it and finally moved on in. In addition to hosting space to screen films, they have plenty of other community events, which those interested can find on their website, RedInkRI.org. You may find that you’ve found yourself in a community of people like Means, Deguchi, Raileanu, and Goldman, who are doing the work in different but equally important ways.
The crowd at Red Ink was an assortment of Queer activists and organizers. I met Kotone Deguchi, who taught me about Queer Umbrella, a class that students started as an after-school class held at the Washington Park Community Library on Broad Street in Providence. The classes focus on Queer education, as well as creating space for making DIY crafts. I learned Deguchi’s students could receive credit for school for attending, but anyone age 12 and up can join. ACN classes are open for spring, and anyone can join! When I participated in the film screening, I did not know that I would be introduced to the many safe spaces that Rhode Island has to offer that I was completely unaware of.
The library is a 501(c) 4 nonprofit which means donations are not tax-deductible. They also do not take money from capitalist donors or corporations. 100 percent of their money comes from donations from the community who believe in the work they’re doing and want to see it thrive. They also take donations in the form of books, and that is where every book in the library comes from. People sometimes bring boxes of books in to give away! The books are accessible for anyone to go in and read to their hearts' content. They offer a monthly membership to people who would like to check out the books and access an online catalog. The membership is only $10 a month. It goes towards the mission of Red Ink of providing a warm, accessible environment where community members have space to think, learn, organize, and grow.