OutWrite 2022 Festival Schedule

We’re thrilled to release the schedule for the 2022 OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival, being held on Friday, August 5th to Sunday, August 7th. This year’s virtual festival will feature 70 LGBTQ+ authors and a full weekend filled with readings, panels and workshops! Register for the livestreams below. All OutWrite events are free and open to the public.

We’re excited to partner with Loyalty Bookstores to feature a virtual bookshop for our OutWrite 2022 authors. Support OutWrite 2022 authors by buying their books!

Sunday, July 10 (Lead-Up Event)

2:00-3:00 p.m.

  A Talk with Queer Editors

This lead-up event to the 2022 festival features a panel discussion with queer editors. Moderated by Emily Holland, panelists include: Christopher Gonzalez, author of I’m Not Hungry But I Could Eat and editor at Barrelhouse; ST Gibson, author of A Dowry of Blood and an agent at Speilburg; Lauren Cherelle, Designer and Managing Director of BLF Press; and Shelly Romero, lead editor with Cake Creative. Watch the recording.

Friday, August 5

6:00-7:30 p.m.

 Harlem’s Badge
Join us for the launch of OutWrite 2022, featuring a reading of a stage play developed by the University of Maryland community. The play focuses on the life of Gladys Bentley, an LGBTQ+ black woman performer in 1930s Harlem who liked to dress in stereotypically male clothing while performing. The play is based heavily on the known aspects of Bentley’s life, such as her relationships with white women, how she began performing, and the challenges she faced as an LGBTQ+ person and a person of color. It is a drama with comedic elements and the vernacular of 1930s Harlem. This reading will feature: Aimee Dastin, Leah Packer, Nicholas McQuain, Isabella Benning, Taryn Carone, Natalia Corvoisier, and Kailee Goldberg. Watch the recording.

Saturday, August 6

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

  Chapbooks 101.2
At OutWrite 2019, “Chapbooks 101” was extremely popular and fostered interesting discussion. Three years later, join us for “Chapbooks 101.2”! Chapbooks are an entry point for many writers, both emerging and established. This panel discussion will try to define chapbooks, describe early encounters with chapbooks, highlight favorite chapbooks, and explore how writers create a chapbook manuscript, the publication process, and how presses get started. Moderated by Gregg Shapiro, with panelists Dan Vera, a poet and publisher at Souvenir Spoon Books; Kim Roberts, a poet with many publications; Regie Cabico, a performance poet and publisher at Capturing Fire; Dustin Brookshire, a poet; and Allison Blevins, a poet and publisher at Small Harbor Press. Watch the recording.

  Nice Chinese Girls Don’t! Poetry in Motion
A screening of Nice Chinese Girls Don’t, the first film to feature the life and work of an Asian American Pacific Islander lesbian writer, Kitty Tsui. In 2019, the documentary premiered at Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival. After the screening, Tsui will read from her work. A conversation between award-winning director Jennifer Abod and Tsui as well as a short Q&A will follow. Watch the recording.


1:00-2:00 p.m.

 Love Is Like a Butterfly: A Dolly Parton Poetry Workshop
What do the songs of legendary singer-songwriter Dolly Parton have to teach us about craft, about writing a range of emotions, experiences, and points of view into our poems? In this workshop, moderated by Lynn Melnick and Dustin Brookshire, we will explore the songs and cultural impact of Dolly Parton and use this as inspiration to write our own poems via related prompts. [Workshops are not recorded].

 Cut Buddies: Black Gay Men Write about Friendship
Friendships between Black men are special—shaped by our experiences of race in critically important and unique ways. For gay men that experience includes a sexual element, where other men are sometimes considered either “trade””or “competition,” until they transition into “good blisters.” These relationships sustain us once we are outside of the nuclear family. Lovers come and go, but our buddies can often be life long chosen family. How do Black gay writers explore these relationships in the context of their novels, stories, and poetry? What are the challenges or joys in writing three-dimensional friendships? Are relationships between Black gay writers a selection of that need to bond with other Black men in meaningful and creative ways? Panelists include: Cary Alan Johnson, an author, activist, and Africanist and the country director for Population Services International in Burundi; Casey Hamilton, author of Men After Ten; Doug Cooper-Spencer, author of This Place of Men, People Like Us, and Leaving Gomorrah, A Letter to a Friend, Ella Pruitt (finalist for the 2016 Phillis Wheatley Book Awards), Gather the Bones, and A River Runs Beneath Us: Voices and Writings of The Griot Book Project; and Jubi Arriola-Headley, author of the poetry collection original kink (Sibling Rivalry Press). Watch the recording.


2:30-3:30 p.m.

 Celebrating “Ceremonies”: A 30th Anniversary Tribute to Essex Hemphill
An artistic unpacking of the prolific work of the late poet Essex Hemphill, on the 30th anniversary of its release. Hemphill was a former D.C. resident, a visionary, and a central figure in the Black queer community in the 80s and 90s, until his passing in 1995. His work “Ceremonies” has been long out of print. This reading will feature Monte J. Wolfe and Joshua Henry Jenkins. Watch the recording.

  Youth Liberation Is An LGBTIQQAA+ Issue!
This workshop, moderated by Kathleen Nicole O’Neal, will explore how members of our community can be allies to young people in their struggle against ageism, anti-LGBTIQQAA+ prejudice, and other forms of discrimination. Those who oppose the LGBTIQQAA+ community target youth specifically, so we must center youth and issues related to ageism in our activism. Youth Liberation: The Ageist Oppression of Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults and the Need for a Radical Rights Based Revolution (forthcoming) deals heavily with issues impacting youth in our community, such as: legal efforts to deny healthcare to trans youth, the medical mistreatment of intersex youth, queer and trans youth homelessness, abuse of queer and trans youth, anti-LGBTIQQAA+ policies in schools, the weaponization of age of consent laws against close in age same sex couples, and other important topics related to the intersection of youth and queer/trans oppression. [Workshops are not recorded].


4:00-5:00 p.m.

  The View From Here: Lesbian Poets Over 60 Read Their Work
We’re not what you think. We’re thoughtful and wild, reflective and raunchy, wise and wise-ass. Come hear lesbian poets from Los Angeles share work forged on our journeys across many decades. Think Bourbon, not tea and cookies. Featuring Jennifer Abod, Dorothy Randall Gray, Bonnilee Kaufman, Ronna Magy, and Carla Sameth. Watch the recording.

  Recovering the Past: Queer True Crime
With the onslaught of podcasts and streaming documentaries, true crime continues to gain popularity. Unfortunately, the crimes that receive the most coverage are those committed against white, middle class, cisgender people. Historically, crimes against queer people were often misconstrued to reinforce dominant homophobic and transphobic attitudes. So, where do queer true crime stories fit into this popular genre? How is researching and writing about LGBTQ+ true crime uniquely challenging? Join a group of prominent true crime authors as they explore these questions and more. Moderated by John Copenhaver, featuring Robert W. Fieseler, James Polchin, Alan R. Warren, and Emma Copley Eisenberg. Watch the recording.


5:30-6:30 p.m.

 Just One More Page: Suspense Writing in WLW Genre Fiction
Suspense isn’t just for thrillers and mysteries. It’s the element that keeps readers of all genres on the edge of their seats and makes them say, “just one more page.” The Feisty FOES, a group of multi-genre WLW authors — Elle E. Ire, Riley Scott, Meredith Doench, and MB Austin — will discuss the art of building suspense in every genre, from mystery to romance, thriller to sci-fi, and everything in between. While their works may differ in content and style, these four authors share more commonalities than differences when it comes to writing intriguing fiction, and they know the secrets to engaging readers require antici … pation. Watch the recording.

 2022 OutWrite Chapbook Contest Winners Reading
Join a reading, moderated by Marianne Kirby, featuring the winners of the 2022 OutWrite Chapbook Competition: M.L. Krishnan (Fiction), Max Pasakorn (Nonfiction), and Kanyinsola Olorunnisola (Poetry). The chapbooks are available for pre-order from Neon Hemlock Press. Watch the recording.

7:00-8:00 p.m.

  Pandemic as Portal: 2022 Journal Reading
A reading, hosted by Rasha Abdulhadi and Dorilyn Toledo, the editor and assistant editor of this year’s journal, featuring several contributors: Chris/tine Deng, Brandon Blue, Nuha Fariha, Onyinyechi Jessica Ogwumike, Rosario Santiago, and Julie Vitto. Watch the recording.

Sunday, August 7

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

 Writing Messy Queer Characters
Disney villains, disaster lesbians, and hot trans messes, oh my! In this workshop led by Milo Todd, we’ll look at “good” messy queers, “bad” messy queers, stereotypes, redemption, interiority, and mainstream media representations. We’ll also discuss common anxieties when writing a complex queer character, brainstorm craft elements for your story, and engage in writing exercises. [Workshops are not recorded].


1:00-2:00 p.m.

  Power of Story (Rainbow History Project)
Based on a reading from Waterfalls, The Moon and Sensible Shoes-One Lesbian Life, by actress Lise Bruneau, the panelists will discuss the importance of storytelling, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as some of the obstacles which prevent the telling of our stories. What keeps us from sharing our histories and why are they important? How do we get started? Author Jill Strachan will share how she got started writing her story. Librarian Vincent Slatt will describe the work of the Rainbow History Project, which collects oral histories and archives of our Washington, D.C. community. Questions and discussion are encouraged. Watch the recording.


 Queer Subversion of Poetic Form
Everyone has heard of the haiku and the sonnet, but what about the burning haibun or the ribcage? In this workshop, led by Anne Marie Wells, participants will examine the ways in which queer poets have invented/reinvented poetic forms and explore their own ideas for subverting traditional forms or creating a brand new form. [Workshops are not recorded].


2:30-3:30 p.m.

 Queer Picture Books of 2022: KidLit in the Face of Bans
LGBTQIA+ authors will read from their picture books and board books being released in 2022. These books feature LGBTQIA+ characters and themes, from teaching about Pride and Stonewall to celebrating drag culture and first crushes. For readers of all ages, from babies to elementary schoolers, these books retell fairytales, reframe binary thinking, and lift up LGBTQIA+ heroes. There will be time for Q&A after the readings. This reading will feature Mark Ceilley, JR & Vanessa Ford, Jonathan Hillman, Lil Miss Hot Mess, Isabel Millán, Sarah Prager, Eric Rosswood, Rosiee Thor, and Charlotte Sullivan Wild. Watch the recording.


 STUNT: a mythical reimagining of Nellie Jackson, Madam of Natchez
What does it mean to know the interior lives of Black folk heroes who challenge the white gaze? Saida Agostini’s chapbook, STUNT, imagines scenes from the life of Nellie Jackson. Born in 1902, Miss Nellie ran a brothel in Natchez, Mississippi for 60 years until her death in 1990. A freedom fighter and entrepreneur who spied on the KKK and supported civil rights activists, Nellie Jackson is a legend that complicates our notions of Black narratives and histories. Join us for dramatic readings from STUNT, along with a powerful conversation about the role Black folk heroes play in moving towards liberation. Featured readers include: Saida Agostini, Blair Franklin, Malik Ti Coleman, Kalima Young, and Jabari Lyles. Watch the recording.


4:00-5:00 p.m.

  Be Gay, Do Crime: LGBTQ Crime Fiction Writers in Conversation
Historically, queer people have had to thwart the law and conventional morality to express their identities fully. The protest catchphrase “Be Gay, Do Crimes” has resonance when considering the Stonewall riots of 1969 and the criminalization of homosexuality. In our panel, LGBTQ crime writers will discuss why they are drawn to this genre, why mysteries, detective fiction, crime procedurals, psychological suspense, legal thrillers, and more are narrative forms that allow queer people to explore homophobia, transphobia, and many other social problems in a compelling, satisfying, and even affirming way. We’ll also share practical tips with attendees who want to write in the genre. This panel, moderated by John Copenhaver, will feature Cheryl Head, Robyn Gigl, Meredith Doench, Edwin Hill, and Kelly J. Ford.

  DC Queer Pride Poem-a-Day
DC Queer Pride Poem-a-Day, organized by Kim Roberts and Jon Gann, released 30 short videos, one per day during the month of June 2022, featuring a different poet from the greater D.C. region reading an love original poem. This reading brings together seven poets featured in the project: Saida Agostini, Danielle Badra, Brandon Blue, Dwayne Lawson-Brown, Tanya Olson, Michelle Parkerson, and Dan Vera.

OutWrite 2022 is Co-Chaired by local poets Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson.

Marlena Chertock, a white writer with short brown hair in a jean jacket with a space scarf holding a copy of her book.Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She uses her skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to scientific poetry. She is queer, disabled, and a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Marlena serves as Co-Chair of OutWrite, Washington, D.C.’s annual LGBTQ literary festival, and on the Board of Split This Rock, a nonprofit that cultivates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Her poetry and prose has appeared in AWP’s The Writer’s Notebook, Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Lambda Literary Review, Little Patuxent Review, Neon Hemlock Press, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Paranoid Tree, Plants & Poetry, Rogue Agent, Unheard Poetry, Washington Independent Review of Books, WMN Zine, Wordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com and @mchertock.



Malik, a queer Black man, in front of a purple wall.Malik Thompson is a Black queer man proud to be from D.C. A bookseller, anime fanatic, and workshop facilitator. Malik has worked with Split This Rock, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Moonlit DC as a workshop facilitator. He also organized the Poets In Protest poetry series at the Black queer owned bookstore Loyalty Bookstores. Malik’s work can be found inside of Split This Rock’s Poetry Database as well as the mixed media journal Voicemail Poems. You can find Malik’s thoughts on literature via his Instagram account @negroliterati.



The 2022 festival journal is edited by Rasha Abdulhadi (Editor) and Dorilyn Toledo (Assistant Editor).

In this painted portrait, the author, a genderqueer Palestinian person with long wavy black hair with a pale streak in front, is staring directly at the viewer from against a fiery orange background. They are wearing large horn-rimmed glasses and a grey and black rippled scarf. Their turquoise stud earring is visible on the right ear.Rasha Abdulhadi is a queer Palestinian Southerner who cut their teeth organizing on the southsides of Chicago and Atlanta. Rasha’s writing has appeared in Mslexia, Strange Horizons, Shade Journal, Plume, Mizna, Room, |tap| magazine, Beltway Poetry, and Lambda Literary. Their work is anthologized in Essential Voices: A COVID-19 Anthology (forthcoming), Unfettered Hexes (2021), Halal if You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019), Stoked Words (Capturing Fire, 2018), and Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia Butler (Twelfth Planet Press, 2017). A fiber artist, poet, and speculative fiction writer and editor, Rasha is a member of Justice for Muslims Collective, the Radius of Arab American Writers, and Alternate ROOTS. Their new chapbook is who is owed springtime (Neon Hemlock).




Brown woman smiling and wearing a textured white tank blouse with gold earrings and a dark bob haircut with bangs slicked back, in front of grass, trees, and housing spaces.

Dorilyn Toledo is a Guatemalan-Filipina editor and educator from California. She is a graduating senior at UC Irvine where she studies Political Science and Social Ecology, focusing on law/race and social behavior. They can be found on Her Campus Media and on Twitter @dorilyntoledo.






Thanks to our Sponsors

OutWrite is made possible thanks to support from our sponsors, AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) and GILEAD, and grants from HumanitiesDC, National Book Foundation’s Literary Arts Emergency Fund, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association’s SFWA Givers Fund.

Thanks to our Volunteers, Interns, DC Center Staff, & more

It takes a village to put on OutWrite — a small village of committed, passionate volunteers. We want to shout out and thank the editor, assistant editor, and designer of this year’s journal — Rasha Abdulhadi, Dorilyn Toledo, and Marisa Dreher, respectively; DC Center staff, including Kimberley Bush, Justin Johns, and our awesome interns Dorilyn Toledo and Emma Fumagalli for all of their help in organizing the festival, ensuring the technology worked as smoothly as possible, designing social media graphics, and more; and, last but not least, planning committee members dave ring, John Copenhaver, and Derrick Jefferson. dave served as Chair of OutWrite for five years and has been publishing the festival’s chapbook competition winners for the past three years through the press he founded, Neon Hemlock Press.

These volunteers help make OutWrite the incredible LGBTQ literary community that it is. Thank you so much for your time, energy, and dedication!