Category Archives: lgbt resources

A Writer’s Year in Review

English: Hollywood Boulevard from the top of t...

Hollywood Blvd. from top of Kodak. (Credit: Wiki)

At the start of 2012, I experienced two major transitions: being accepted into a fiction writing program and moving from Long Beach to Inglewood. I knew the writing program would help me advance within writing, however I didn’t know what to expect. I had a publishing deal with a small publishing company, but I thought, why not workshop my book to get more eyes on the book. Their suggestions took the story from surface to being able to exist above the page. The story itself did not changed; I brought more of the contrast between race, immigrant life, religion, and identity out in front of the reader.

Beyond having breath breathed into my book, in 2012, I:

  • Read at the West Hollywood Library on 12/8/12
  • Was invited to read at the City of West Hollywood’s Pride Festival, “One City, One Pride” taking place in June 2013
  • Was invited to White House Briefing for Black LGBT Emerging Leaders 2, 24, 2012
  • Was invited to read at Soulful Salon, for In The Meantime, a LGBT community organization
  • Started writing for Campus Circle Magazine
  • Started writing for Qulture
  • Started writing for GBM News
  • Interviewed Frenchie Davis, DJ Danjazone (LMFAO’s Tour DJ), Diana King, DDm, and Orikl
  • Wrote my first poetry review for a literary journal
  • Submitted a fiction piece to one of my favorite literary journals
  • Read at my first book fair, West Hollywood Book Fair
  • Was published in the anthology, For Colored Boys
  • Started working as an Editorial Assistant for a academic publisher
  • Went to 10 author readings

On New Years Eve 2013, with a group of friends, I wrote down on paper what I did not like about 2012 and I burned it. With each new piece I completed, part of me was afraid to branch out and take my writing career to the next level (writing for a major magazine and be able to freelance write/edit for other publications). The paper turned from white, to egg-colored, to ashes in the fire pit in East L.A. While watching it burn, I reflected back on other details of 2012: I learned that I would be working for LAist.com (for the Spring term) and I made it to the Semifinalist round for the Point Foundation Graduate Scholarship. Also that I got the courage to submit new poetry to four literary magazines and I pitched an article idea to Essence magazine. No New Year’s Resolution to lose fat or be a better person, I want to reserve all my energy into writing. And whether or not all of those opportunities fall into place, I will keep striving to become a better writer and be part of the writing community.

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black lgbt artsy event: orlando: june 5: books and brunch literary workshop @ orlando vista hotel

Books and Brunch, Orlando Black Pride

Books and Brunch, Orlando Black Pride

June is the official Pride month. Each week there seems to be a Pride celebration happening across the states. Orlando Black (gay) Pride is May 31 – June 5. The event I’m most excited about is Books and Brunch, hosted by Kat Williams, host of Sipping On Ink radio show (Blog Talk Radio). Books and Brunch is a literary workshop featuring G. Winston James, Fiona Zedde, Cheril N. Clarke, Spoken, Ortis Randolf, Sherry Michelle, Skyy, and Kat Williams.

Kat William’s Sipping On Ink Interview With Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene

Event Description:

Kat Williams will be moderating a discussion on writing and how to get published and each of the featured authors will talk about their experience getting published. Guests will have the opportunity to chat with the authors and purchase books for signing. The event is a teleseminar. If you can’t be there you can see it as it happens at Orlando Black Pride.

Fiona Zedde On Gender/Race/Sexuality For black./womyn.:conversations

Location: Orlando Vista Hotel, 12490 Apopka Vineland Road

Date/Time: Sunday, June 5, 2011, 11am-2pm

Price: Only $20 entry and brunch or $10 entry only (The brunch will include: Mimosa, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs, Home Fries, Texas Rice, Caesar Salad, Rolls, and Coffee)

Go out and meet all the authors. Tickets for the event can be purchased http://www.orlandoblackpride.eventbrite.com or http://www.orlandoblackpride.com. Please purchase in advance as space is limited.

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The Creative Spark: how to unlock the creative process and inspire: read michelle tea

“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies” — Winston Churchill.

Community is important to me as a writer. I had to create community (an online community) through YouTube and blogs. No money. No formal writing education. Living in Backswamp Florida no literary festivals came my way. I scoured the internet for writers whose work inspired me and allowed me to see writing as a living thing. Writing as a method of storytelling. With sounds, colors, and experiences. Michelle Tea is one of those writers I pretend sat in creative writing class with me and we read and

Sister Spit - Michelle Tea

Image by cathredfern via Flickr

listened to each others work.

How I discovered her I can’t remember. But it was on YouTube. The video clip, Michelle reading at Sizzle, a monthly literary series held at Femina Potens Art Gallery in San Francisco on Market Street. The piece, a 30 year-old queergirl visits her mother in Florida after a devastating hurricane hits her city. The narrator is sleeping with her mother’s 24 year-old neighbor Aidan. Aidan’s going into the military and Aidan’s sister is 17 and pregnant. The group, with two hicks Marcus and Hank, are driving to karaoke night at a Chinese restaurant.

Michelle Tea Reading at Sizzle

I listened to that clip while I wrote. I turned it up high while I showered, while I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all I could afford to buy. The language and style put me in the scene, in the car, in the restaurant.

Read the excerpt below:

Holy goddamn, Angela said, her snout pressed up against the glass, her eyes picking out shapes in the dark. There’s a boat, she narrated. There’s a couch, there’s fridge or something—a stove? Her hands with their chipped and bitten nails were folded under her belly, cradling the thought of it. How long you think it’ll take to get normal here? Not that it was ever normal, but you know. She gave me a look, like we were in on knowing that this place wasn’t normal, the two of us together in a vehicle of boys who thought this road was the whole world, more or less.

Additional excerpt:

Something about the layout of the karaoke place felt like a really bad brothel. The carpet was chunked with geometry and spattered with oblong cigarette burns; it rolled down a hallway that sprouted private rooms and dead-ended where the hurricane had ripped a chunk of the back wall off. The proprietor shrugged and pointed—I’m still the luckiest! I’m still here! Our room was lined with Naugahyde benches, the covers split, revealing a bulk of foam stuffing. A table was piled with binders listing songs, and a remote control that plugged the songs into the system. The proprietor demonstrated: “The Greatest Love of All” chimed into the room, joined by a video of sheep in a meadow. One sheep turned to face the camera, chomping on grass. It looked alarmed. Everybody’s searching for a hero. The words lit up across the pasture. Never found anyone who could fill my dreams. The proprietor left with a wave.

Michelle, a staple in the San Francisco lit community, is curator of her own reading series, Radar and a founder of a touring poetry/spoken word troupe called Sister Spit. Michelle and Sini Anderson, Sister Spit co-founder, “gathered together a group of some of the most notorious, talented, and just frickin’ interesting women and dykes, and went on tour all over the U.S, according to Sister Spit’s website.

I went through all of Michelle’s videos on YouTube. One of my favorites is titled Passing on the Pen, April 15, 2008 (PART 7). The video forced me to reevaluate some of the chapters in the book and go back and really think about what I was writing and how to pull in the reader.

Michelle Tea Reading at Passing on the Pen

Sister Spit is on tour now. Joining Michelle is Dorothy Allison, Justin Vivian Bond, Cheryl Dunye (Cheryl wrote, directed and starred in her first film which was the first African American lesbian feature film The Watermelon Woman), Erin Markey, Cassie J. Sneider, Kit Yan (an Asian American transman from Hawaii).

Check out Sister Spit for more information.

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black lgbt artsy event: atlanta: 6/23 – 6/25: atlanta queer literary festival @ mulitple locations in atlanta and decatur

The premiere LGBT literary Festival in Atlanta, The Atlanta Queer Literary Festival (AQLF), showcasing LGBT authors, novelists, playwrights, and poets will take place June 23-25 in Atlanta and Decatur. Keynote speakers are Sibling Rivalry Press founder Bryan Borland and Women of the World Poetry Slam champion Theresa Davis. There will be readings, poetry slams, workshops, signings, and theater events.

Blogger and AQLF board member Cleo Creech stated the board is “returning AQLF back to it’s Stonewall roots.”

Go to their website for a schedule of events.

Last year Antron Reshaud, black gay poet and author of Bohemian Rebel: Naked and Exposed. Vol 1 and The Rising Vol 2., performed last year during AQLF’s opening night event at Charis Books with Karen Head, Alice Teeter, Timothy Wright, Bailey Lynn, Maudelle Driskell and Mose Hardin. Antron premiered his One Man Show: SIXLIVESINFORTYPOEMS.

Linton Kwesi Johnson on stage reading from a book

Image via Wikipedia

Other black LGBT authors included Charles Stephens, Reginald T. Jackson, Ifa Bumi, and Blair (D. Blair). “Charles Stephens has been an advocate and enthusiast of black queer literature and culture since he read James Baldwin’s Just Above My Head when he was a precocious 12-year old. He also co-organized “Phyre” a celebration of black queer history and culture. His writing has appeared in the Gay and Lesbian Review, the monographs Think Again and If We Have to Take Tomorrow and Alternet.”

Reginald T. Jackson‘s new book of poetry, This Morning I Woke Black: The Barack Obama Poems, on Outskirts Press, “was named a National Shakespeare Pioneer for his adaptation of King Lear as a Black Drag Queen dying of AIDS: House of Lear. He also received a NYC Mayor’s Citation and an Arts and Cultural Foundation Award for his work in Arts-In-Education. His literary works have appeared in the anthology Brother To Brother, the anthology Flesh and The Word 2, BlackOut Magazine, the anthology Sojourner, BGM Magazine, OUTWEEK Magazine, American Writing Magazine, The Pyramid Poetry Periodical,He has completed two novels entitled: Love Sickness and My Homeboy Love.” Check out Reginald’s interview with DJ Baker on the Da Doo Dirty Show discussing the inspiration for “This Morning I Woke Black” and living with HIV.

Ifa Bumi is a poet, spoken word artist, and songwriter. Her spoken word album, Musoetry, was released in 2009 and received critical acclaim.

Blair (D. Blair), 2010 Callaloo Fellow, is an “award winning Detroit-based poet and singer-songwriter, a 2010 Callaloo Poetry Fellow and a National Poetry Slam Champion. He is the author of Moonwalking, published by Penmanship Books. The recipient of Seattle WA’s Bent Mentor Award, he is also a Def Poetry Jam Poet who’s performed on bills with Stevie Wonder, Wilco, Oscar Winner Michael Moore, Bitch and Animal and others. He teaches poetry and music classes in Detroit Public Schools, Hannan House Senior Center, the YMCA and lectures at universities, colleges and high schools across the country.” Blair is performing in Chicago on 4/23 at Scarab Club with Jamaal May and in New York on 5/7-5/8 at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe.

Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission gave the first keynote address at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Cary previously had been IGLHRC’s Senior Africa Specialist, a position he held for four years, and managed the organization’s office in Cape Town, South Africa. Lambda Award finalist Ana Bozicevic gave the second keynote address.

Last year’s panels included: journalism, African-American writers and social media. This year should be even better.

I hope to make this a stop on my book tour. Fingers crossed.

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All Things Black, Art-sy and Gay: Resources for Black LGBT Artists

Red carpet of the Palais des Festivals et des ...

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Film Festivals

  • Los Angeles: Fusion Film Festival, Outfest, Los Angeles‘ LGBT people of color film festival, March
  • San Francisco: Queer Women of Color Film Festival, San Francisco’s National Queer Arts Festival
  • Cape Town: Out in Africa, Cape Town, South Africa‘s film festival
  • San Francisco: San Francisco Black LGBT Film Festival, San Francisco’s Black LGBT film festival – community project by the Black Coalition on AIDS
  • London: Black Gay & Lesbian Film/Video Exhibition
  • New York City: Queer Black Cinema, NYC Black LGBTQ Monthly Film Series (A Black gay monthly film series that screenings Black gay films every 4th Thursday of the month – hosts the Queer Black Cinema International Film Festival in Harlem

Non-Black and Gay But Curious Festivals

Websites

  • Black Womyn (a black, queer, female director promoting social change and insight into the black female queer condition through film. The documentary is structured by interviews— conversations—the director had with each of the women. It features candid interviews with black lesbian women discussing coming out, sexuality and religion, love and relationships, marriage, patriarchy, visibility in media, discrimination and homophobia, activism, gender identity, Black lesbian youth and elders, balancing gender/race/sexuality, and, finally, what it means to call oneself a Black lesbian today. Listings of screenings are available on site)
  • GBF Media (a Black lesbian media company that produces films and commercials)

Bookstores

  • San Francisco: A Different Light
  • Atlanta: In The Life
  • Atlanta: OutWrite Books
  • Washington, DC: Lamda Rising
  • Philadelphia: Giovanni’s Room
  • Boston: Calamus Book
  • St. Petersburg, FL: Brigit Books (Feminist bookstore)
  • St. Louis: Left Bank Books (Indie bookstore) – Works well with self-published authors to get their books on the shelves (tip: the books have to be professionally bound though)
  • Las Vegas: Get Booked (not really sure about this one though)

Networking (Business meet Pleasure)

  • Atlanta: Affair with Flair, Atlanta’s black gay/lesbian focused business networking organization
  • Brooklyn: The Black Lesbians Network (The Black Lesbians Network offers a communal think tank to effectively impact our society and culture)
  • Atlanta: ZAMI (Non-profit seeking to empower and affirm the lives of lesbians of African descent through scholarships, leadership development, support/ discussion groups, social activities, drum performances, outreach and education.
  • Chicago: Affinity Community Services (Non-profit organization currently serving Chicago’s black lesbian and bisexual women’s community)

Check out the companion piece to this article Resources for Black Gay and Lesbian Writers featuring publishers, magazines, newspapers, writer’s retreats, literary conferences, and websites dedicated to LGBT Black writers.

Updated: I hope to keep adding to this list when I hear of other opportunities

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Resources for Black Gay and Lesbian Writers

The Damaged Good, G. Winston James
The Damaged Good, G. Winston James
  • Redbone Press (LGBT Black publishing house based in Washington, D.C)
  • Cleis Press (Largest LGBT small indie press)
  • Strebor (Author Zane’s imprint with Simon & Schuster)
  • Alyson Books (Largest LGBT commercial press)
  • Vintage Entity Press (Small chapbook press with an impressive collection of Black gay and lesbian authors)
  • Tugson Press (Very small Black and Gay publisher found by Leo Shelton)

PUBLISHERS RECOMMENDED BY LAMBDA LITERARY FOUNDATION

MAGAZINES

  • Pulse (based out of New York, through GMAD, a black urban magazine)
  • Bleu (based out of New York, a black urban magazine)
  • Swerv (based out of DC, a black urban magazine)
  • SGL Weekly (a one man team based out of LA, a black urban magazine)
  • Curve (a mainstream lesbian magazine with celebrity interviews, news, politics, pop culture, style, travel, social issues and entertainment)
  • Callaloo (a non-gay-specific literary and cultural journal of the African Diaspora based at Texas A&M)
  • David (mainstream Atlanta-based print magazine)
  • Gay Chicago Magazine (an online-based mainstream magazine)
  • Mary: A Literary Quarterly (a literary magazine published quarterly that showcases queer/gay writings of artistic merit started by Black-nerd cutie William Johnson)
  • HotSpots Magazine (Florida’s largest gay publication covering news and events in South Florida)
  • Ambiente Magazine (The first & only LGBT publication offered in English, Spanish & Portuguese, produced bi-monthly, offered free of charge, and distributed digitally around the globe to thousands of our readers)

NEWSPAPERS

  • Windy City Times (a Chicago-based print newspaper)

WRITER’S RETREAT

  • Cave Canem (non gay-specific but gay friendly Black poetry retreat  at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and workshops in NYC)

LITERARY CONFERENCES

  • Fire and Ink (Devoted to increasing the understanding, visibility and awareness of the works of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender writers of African descent and heritage normally held in October)
  • Atlanta Queer Literary Festival (an all-encompassing literary festival held in June)
  • Saints and Sinners (an all-encompassing New Orleans literary festival)

WEBSITES

Check out the companion piece to this article All Things Black, Art-sy and Gay: Resources for Black LGBT Artists featuring film festivals, bookstores, networking organizations, and additional websites.

**Will update every month**

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Gay Black Male Writer in Search of Literary Agent: A how-to story on query letters

“Thanks so much for your query.” The response came one hour after I sent it. This agent was a backup. I queried ten. Five who publish gay and lesbian fiction and five who publish new authors. “Unfortunately, though, I don’t believe I’d be the right agent for your work.” Polite. To the point. Unemotional. Still painful. It’s my third rejection for my novel. My first novel titled the Taste of Scars.

The day I finished my novel I created a vision board in my head. It’s not really a vision board if it’s in your head. I didn’t have time or the resources to go out and buy an actual board. In The Secret, the author suggests that the key to getting anything that you want is to imagine it, write it down, and have a visual representation of it. I thought if I imagined securing a literary agent I’d have a literary agent within a month.

The query process wasn’t what I expected it to be.

I queried a literary agent at Writer’s House a year ago. My best friend who is a writer and actor suggested I get a literary agent. I had planned to submit my book to a publisher. I didn’t know literary agents existed. I didn’t know how to go about getting a literary agent. I googled literary agent and found an article on how to write a query letter.

I absorbed and wrote a catchy attention grabber. Hardcore rapper 50 Cent meets Zane and realizes he’s gay.

Rapper 50 Cent in concert sporting Bling-Bling

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My full query letter:

Hardcore rapper 50 Cent meets Zane and realizes he’s gay

Xitonce (pronounced existence), my novel, is an urban story about a young African American male caught in a love triangle with a man who suffers from panic attacks and a politician on the down low running for public office. From their story, a gripping story unfolds from a love letter that catapults the reader through an unforgettable tale of Detroit’s Black upper class community, homophobia in Peru, faking a marriage to gain citizenship, and two detectives trying to find a sadistic killer.

Like all urban novels Xitonce includes personal reflection, sex, crime, and revenge. However it veers from other works such that five very different characters reveal through their own stories how there are no coincidences in life but a single line of events that connect people.

Xitonce is one of few down low fiction works that is literary first, where many down low books falter and written to appeal to the mainstream literary audience. The result is a roller coaster showing how emotions can lead people to the lower depths of society.

As a young writer, I am looking for an experienced agent and I am thoroughly impressed with your agency.

The novel is 48,338 and fully complete. I am sending you the first five pages of Xitonce as stated in your submission guidelines

I thank you for your time and consideration.

P.S. Xitonce is marketable to today’s gay African American audience, the African American audience that craves information on the down low (since the success of On the Down Low and Coming Up from the Down Low by J.L. King and Beyond the Down Low by Keith Boykin), and the non-African American gay audience.

E.N.D.

Writing it I felt like an excellent query letter. Like whoever read it would sign me immediately. I know see its faults now. The attention grabber wasn’t an attention grabber. The first sentence has “novel,” “urban story,” “young male,” and “caught in a love triangle.” Those words lack detail and the punch needed to get an agent’s attention. I wasn’t selling my product. And if I can’t sell my product how can an agent sell it.

I stared at my computer for about ten minutes. “Thanks. But I’m afraid this isn’t right for me. By the way, the manuscript looks too short. Most novels should be closer to 70,000 words at least.” The by the way was what killed me. It felt like he was telling me to rethink my novel and sign up for creative writing 101. It was the best advice. Honestly, I can say when I started writing my book I knew nothing about writing. The sample chapter that I sent him was not well written or thought out. It took me a week to figure that out. At the time, I had about fifteen chapters and 40,000 words. A year later I have forty chapters and close to 90,000 words.

This time around. My query was a lot more polished. With this rejection I feel more confident. I’m four more rejection letters from getting an agent.

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