Real Life

How this couple is helping the Queer community... One chapter at a time

These two ladies from Levin are on the same page when it comes to making a difference to the queer community

By Dionne Christian
Separated for a year by border closures, Kiwi couple Chelsea and Theresa Adams were making up for lost time with a romantic road trip from one end of New Zealand to the other with their beloved corgi Remus when they hit upon a brilliant idea.
Taranaki-born Chelsea had resolved to read only "queer books" for the year, but as they travelled through Aotearoa, getting hold of them proved near impossible – gay literature was often missing from bookshops, libraries had lengthy waiting lists, and ordering online meant long delivery times and hefty shipping fees.
The dilemma got the pair thinking and, upon their return home to Levin, the dynamic duo opened their own online bookstore, the Alphabet Book Club, which is dedicated to selling books that provide positive and honest representations of LGBT+ people, with the help of Theresa's sister Ruth Evans.
Six months in, Chelsea, 34, and Theresa, 36, have been overwhelmed by support from parents, schools and libraries keen to source books to help "rainbow youngsters", who they point out are over-represented in statistics for suicide, mental illness and homelessness.
Chelsea – who works handling emergency calls – has read all 92 titles that ABC sells and she has a spreadsheet with 2000 more titles she'd like to check out, including many by local authors.
"We don't want to stock books that will do more harm than good and we want to be able to give accurate recommendations when somebody wants something specific," explains Chelsea, adding that they don't only sell titles that deal with the more challenging aspects of life and love.
"There's a place for those books, but we also want books about queer people living their lives, going on adventures, falling in love and finding joy."
Growing up in a small town, Chelsea says not seeing herself represented in books, TV shows and movies led her to "shove down" her true feelings until adulthood, while Porirua-born theatre manager Theresa adds that their "heteronormative upbringing" meant they were both unprepared to deal with the emotions they experienced when they met in Wellington
14 years ago.
After falling in love, the musical theatre enthusiasts eventually married in New York in 2014, celebrating their union with a picnic in Central Park and a month-long honeymoon in which they saw as many Broadway shows as possible, including The Lion King, Wicked, Matilda, The Book Of Mormon and Hedwig And The Angry Inch.
Theresa (left) and Chelsea exchanged vows in New York.
When they left the Big Apple, they moved to Macau, in China, where Chelsea had landed a job as the senior stage manager for an aquatic Cirque du Soleil-style show called The House Of Dancing Water. Theresa joined as an assistant artistic director and the couple adopted Remus.
Only a puppy, Remus had been kept in a cage as part of a shop window display and was traumatised by people banging on the window of his tiny home.
Hannah recalls, "When we met him, he was so afraid of people that he would just shake and wet himself. He was afraid of doors, of his collar, his lead… He was such a traumatised little thing."
He was also anaemic, possibly from having his tail docked too short, but once the adorable pooch was treated by a Kiwi vet living in Macau, family life became blissful… until COVID struck. Having returned home for a summer break, Chelsea was stuck in New Zealand, while Theresa was trapped in Macau, where The House Of Dancing Water frantically reduced shows and eventually shut down.
Life's joys: A good book and courageous companion Remus.
Finally reunited after a year apart, the pair reconnected by travelling Aotearoa in a Mazda Bongo van and say the highlight was seeing Remus, now six, run on grass for the first time and learn to swim in the sea.
Their road trip was also where the idea for the Alphabet Book Club was born and while it's not a money-making enterprise – they even donate a percentage of each sale to LGBT+ charities – it's expanded faster than they ever expected.
The creative Kiwi couple on their voyage of discovery.
"We hoped that we'd grow a book community celebrating positive representation, but we didn't expect that to happen so quickly," says Theresa. "We're really excited to see where this all goes."

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