Celebrating Ten Years of OutWrite

These past two years have been unlike any other. With the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives became smaller, closer-to-home. We went into quarantine, isolation, social distancing from each other to keep each other safe. Our libraries shuttered, bookstores closed, open mics ceased, writing workshops and festivals were postponed.

In a time of uncertainty, grief, and fear, we witnessed and experienced increased police brutality, historic protests affirming the Black Lives Matter movement, staggering increases in anti-Asian violence, work-from-home situations provided to maintain social distancing measures, decades after disabled activists called for this same accessibility. We’ve seen communities come together for mutual aid and support.

During all of this, we held the 2020 festival virtually, for the first time. Writers from around the country and world joined us. They read from books debuting during a pandemic, shared work written in response to the events from the past year, spread joy and a love of queer literature, and we all joined from our laptops and phones. Our community found a way to keep literature — especially queer, trans, and BIPOC literature — alive and thriving. The 2020 festival was even nominated for the 35th Annual Mayor’s Arts Award. The 2021 festival is starting this weekend, and it’s again a virtual affair. But we now know the possibilities available to us via virtual programming, the increased accessibility, and that our LGBTQ community of writers and readers will be there with us.

OutWrite wouldn’t exist without you. We wanted to create this journal to uplift, to celebrate, to honor your writing, your perseverance, your diversity, your strength, your beauty. The stories and poems inside pay homage to OutWrite writers from the past 10 years. As we enter a new epoch of the OutWrite literary festival, we, as Co-Chairs, will do all we can to further the mission of this festival: to create a home for the literature of our trans/queer community, to honor our vast diversity, and to connect readers craving LGBTQ work with those bravely writing it.

We hope this journal helps you celebrate the existence of the OutWrite D.C. LGBTQ literary festival. We’re so excited for the next 10 years, and more!

—Marlena Chertock & Malik Thompson, OutWrite Co-Chairs

[View PDF: Celebrating Ten Years of OutWrite]

We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy & Liberation

OutWrite is pleased to share with you the work of six talented Black writers from the LGBTQIA+ community. This journal centers interconnected themes of Black imagination, joy, and liberation.

As we work to create a world where Black people not only survive, but thrive, we must nurture our imaginations and foster joy along the way.

—Tahirah Green, Journal Editor

The cover of “We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy and Liberation” is shades of dark purple. “We Got This” is in a white font with orange blended in. On the bottom, there are illustrations of three Black people. One has long hair in shades of orange and black, wearing earrings and a nose ring and necklaces, one has a hair wrap, and one has a fade. They are all looking at each other.

[View PDF: We Got This-Black Writers on Imagination, Joy and Liberation]

Washington D.C.’s LGBTQ Literary Festival OutWrite Welcomes New Leadership

Marlena Chertock, Malik Thompson, OutWrite Co-Chairs

Local poets Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson have been announced as the new Co-Chairs of OutWrite. After 5 years of service, culminating in the 2020 festival being nominated for the 35th Annual Mayor’s Arts Award, writer and editor dave ring is stepping down as Chair of the festival. We thank him for his many years and support of OutWrite.

Malik and Marlena look forward to continuing OutWrite’s mission of cultivating inclusive literary programming that reflects and uplifts trans/queer literary communities. Both poets come to this work after being engaged in literary community — including festivals, conferences, poetry readings, open mic series, and writing workshops — at both the local and national level for years. OutWrite is delighted to have them at the helm, looking towards 2021 with the intention of centering BIPOC writers, Indigenous writers, and disabled writers.

OutWrite has extended the submission deadline for 2020’s two special edition festival journals: Ten Year Retrospective and We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy and Liberation. The new deadline is November 30. View submission guidelines here.

Mark your calendars for next year’s festival, which will be August 6-8, 2021. Due to this uncertain time, we will be planning OutWrite 2021 with the assumption that it will be virtual. We will release updates as the situation develops. Please visit outwritedc.org for more information and submit your ideas for panels and readings!

More about the Co-Chairs of OutWrite

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 writing. 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.




About OutWrite

OutWrite is a celebration of LGBTQ literature, held annually the first weekend in August in Washington, D.C. The 2021 festival will be August 6-8, 2021. For more information, visit: thedccenter.org/outwrite.

About the DC Center

The DC Center for the LGBT Community educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities. To fulfill our mission, we focus on four core areas: health and wellness, arts & culture, social & support services, and advocacy and community building. We envision communities where LGBT people feel healthy, safe, and affirmed.