One of the things I love most about my publishing graduate program is that I’m surrounded by people who genuinely care about what perspectives are centralized in mainstream publishing. Like me, they recognize the marginalized voices who have been consistently overlooked. We intend to use our education to do something about it. Being part of a community that actually values queer narratives is…well, it’s a relief. There wasn’t even a sentence devoted to my community while I was growing up, let alone full conversations or book recommendations. Now, every day is liberating in a way that (ironically) can’t be done justice through words. It’s the most profound sense of rightful place and belonging. I recognize that, unfortunately, not every queer reader has access to the same resources or environment. So, here are five opportunities for anyone who loves LGBTQ2IA+ literature (writers, readers, and allies alike) to come together and find power in sharing stories—just like when we take to the streets with our flags and parades.
Saints and Sinners Literary Festival
Cover image via Saints and Sinners literary Festival
The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival was founded with two purposes: provide a creative medium for HIV/AIDS prevention messages to reach LGBTQ2IA+ folks and celebrate queer literary arts through community building. Since its conception in 2003, the Festival has been hosted at the Hotel Monteleone in the New Orleans French Quarter. Programming spans three days and includes everything from master classes to panel discussions. This allows book publishers and writers to highlight their work and gives readers a welcoming space to enjoy LGBTQ2IA+ literature. Saints and Sinners is internationally recognized and attracts participants from both in- and outside of the United States. The next Festival is slated for March 26th to 28th in 2021.
Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices
Logo via Lambda Literary
Hosted by Lambda Literary, the Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices is the only multi-genre United States writing residency for rising queer authors. It was established in 2007 and has since become the country’s most prestigious residency for LGBTQ2IA+ literature. The Retreat brings in an incredibly talented group of writers to serve as instructors in a multitude of areas: fiction, poetry, nonfiction, young adult fiction, and playwriting. Over 500 writers have participated in the retreat as of today, and Lambda Literary publishes an annual anthology, Emerge, comprised of fellows’ work. Under non-pandemic conditions, writers typically participate in free public readings in Los Angeles. The next Retreat is planned for August 8th to August 15th 2021.
Logo via OutWrite
Every year, The DC Center for the LGBT Community hosts a queer literary festival: OutWrite. David Ring, who became OutWrite chair in 2018, told Washington City Paper that he hopes to make the festival more inclusive of intersectional voices going forward: “My hope for OutWrite under my direction has been to create a space open to myriad connections with the diverse communities under the LGBTQ umbrella, because queer people are not a monolith and our relationships with the idea of a shared community can be fraught.” In addition to the three-day celebration held every summer, the organization also sponsors numerous LGBTQ2IA+ literary events throughout the year. They’ve been hosting online writing workshops and community spaces ever since the pandemic shutdowns hit. Writers can contribute to two OutWrite journals: Ten Year Retrospective and We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy and Liberation. #OutWrite2021 is currently scheduled for August 6th through 8th 2021.
Golden Crown Literary Society Annual Conference
Promo Image via Golden Crown Literary Society
Established in 2004, the Golden Crown Literary Society “is a 501(c)3 non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to increase the visibility and integrity of literature about women loving women (WLW).” It’s everything a queer woman like me, who’s constantly looking for authentic and non-sexualized representation, could ask for. The Society holds an annual conference the allows writers, readers, editors, and publishers to find community within their common passion for queer stories. There’s also something for everyone. Speakers, panel discussions, silent auctions, and vendor stalls all make up the multi-day festivities. Golden Crown also offers scholarships for prospective attendees to ensure that the conference remains accessible. The event will be coming to Orlando, Florida in 2021.
New York Rainbow Book Fair
Logo via Rainbow Book Fair
The New York Rainbow Book Fair brings together about 1,500 people per year for a massive celebration of queer literature. It’s the longest-running and single largest LGBTQ2IA+ book event in the United States. The Book Fair was established in 2009 and attracts a broad span of people: writers, publishers, readers, editors, agents, and the media. Within that crowd, patrons come from all ages, racial and/or ethnic backgrounds, sexualities, gender identities, and experiences. It truly is a remarkable place for anyone and everyone to appreciate the wonders of queer books. Sponsors include Bold Strokes Books, The Center, Harrington Park Press, and more—all entities seeking to uplift LGBQT2IA+ voices. The same can be said of Book Fair exhibitors, who range from authors to small presses to queer libraries and beyond. Past exhibitors include: Astonishing Queer Tales, The Center for LGBTQ Studies, Drag Queen Story Hour, and The New York Times/PRIDE. Details for the 2021 Book Fair will be coming soon.