I’ve been in several book clubs. They can be very different from each other and they can evolve over time.
I was in a women’s science fiction/fantasy book club in New York. Most of us were in our 30’s-40’s, mix of races but mostly white. Would definitely have welcomed genderqueer. It was elitist in the sense that we had a common “oh dear god, we are not reading Twilight or Shades of Grey under any circumstances” attitude, but we definitely read a mix of highbrow and lowbrow books, with an emphasis on female authors or protagonists. Two of the members were literature professors, which meant that there were people trained to evaluate structure and symbolism that the rest of us might have missed, but their opinions weren’t given any more weight than anyone else in the group.
Now I’m in a general-reader group in a small town in Maryland. When I joined it, it was women only and tended to run heavy into chicklit, which I’m not fond of. Five years later, it’s open to all genders and has a pretty broad range of books - I still focus on science fiction, but we also do memoirs, mysteries, history, etc. Ages range early 30’s to late 50’s, and this town is pretty much all white. I think we tend to pick books that are maybe a step up from causal reading, but we also read some pretty silly books and some intense books. People have some strong opinions, but no one is considered “right”. The only cliquish factor is that we all get annoyed at a couple of people who only show up when it’s a book they picked and don’t read any of the books that other people picked.
In both book clubs, people would spend 1-2 hours talking about the book (depending on how much we disagreed about it - books that half the people loved and half hated excite the most discussion) and then spent some time socializing and catching up on each other’s lives. When I joined each club, the latter part was pretty boring; I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t keep track of their relationships. It did feel like I was the odd one out in an established girl’s club. Over time, as I got to know them and vice versa, it became much more reciprocal. Now they’re cheering me on through a difficult job search, I’m cheering on the new author and blacksmith, and we all enjoy updates on whatever part of each person’s life they care to share.