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]