By Richael Faithful
Sweet tea. Cookouts. Porch talk. Kissing in Bible school. A bit of the blues and laughter.
If you’re immersed in summer, these references might stir memories of the season. If you’re a Queer Southerner or a person with an affinity to the South, these mentions might call forth experiences—sweet and bitter—that you can’t find anywhere else.
If you’re itching to reminisce on that familiar place, then you will be happy to hear that southern queer stories are coming home this week for the OutWrite Festival, Washington, D.C.’s annual celebration of LGBTQ literature.
The OutWrite Festival runs from Friday, August 1 through brunch on Sunday, August 3. In addition to the featured evening events—like the celebration of Essex Hemphill featuring esteemed and renowned biographer and historian Martin Duberman on Friday and a celebration of a new anthology by Dicción Queer at MOVA Lounge—the Saturday celebration includes readings by a diverse group of LGBTQ authors and workshops for aspiring and established writers. Throughout the day, the book fair operates from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
There are many events for lesbians, but one is particularly special. Authors from the groundbreaking collection, Girls Raised In The South: An Anthology of Southern Queer Womyns’ Voices & Their Allies (Freeverse Publishing: 2013), will stroll through the District to tell about who they are, where they’re from, what’s tasty, and why the devil spreads lies that too many folks believe at a special featured reading. And they’re inviting you to share stories, and swoon with them all afternoon.
Contributors in attendance include Poet on Watch, Amber N. Williams, Nicolette Davis, Akinfe Fatou, and Richael Faithful. The event will include selected readings, an open mic, and a book signing, at 4 p.m. on Saturday, August 2.
Girls Raised In The South (affectionately known as the queer G.R.I.T.S. anthology) is the first anthology of its kind that highlights the themes of lesbian and queer culture, sisterhood and spirituality, erotica and politics in relationship to food in the American South. Its contributors include Jaki Shelton Green, a North Carolina literary hall of fame inductee, Cheryl A. Clarke, a long time feminist troublemaker, activist and writer, Pamela Sneed, author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, among many more powerful and emerging queer voices. Poet On Watch, co-editor, shares that G.R.I.T.S. vision is to “hear from and document the voices of Southern queer womyn and their allies distinctly as they tell their tales on these pages that refuse to get snagged on the fence of the single narration told of our lives.”
G.R.I.T.S. invites southerners and kinfolks, their lovers, and fans to join in fellowship on August 2. Akinfe Fatou, a poet and Washington native, offers a reason to attend the event in her poem, “Bewitched”:
The comfort of a
Woven in satin
Ethereal and Impalpable
The epitome of
Warmth and patience
Nothing in this life is
All OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival events take place at The DC Center located at 2000 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. For the full schedule visit http://thedccenter.org/outwritedc/.