Washington City Paper Names OutWrite the ‘Best Place to Connect With Queer Writers’

The Washington City Paper named OutWrite the “Best Place to Connect With Queer Writers”! Thank you for this incredible recognition, it’s an honor to create and build a space for LGBTQ+ writers and readers in the DC area and beyond!

Stay tuned for our call for panels, readings, and workshops for OutWrite 2022, which will take place on August 5-7, 2022.

The Washington City Paper declared OutWrite the Best Place to Connect With Queer Writers“For 11 years—and 11 festivals—OutWrite has built a thriving space for queer and trans writers to connect and grow among colleagues, peers, and mentors. Taking place in August, D.C’s annual LGBTQ literary festival showcases and promotes writers from the District and well beyond. In 2021, OutWrite united more than 80 queer authors for two dozen readings, panels, and workshops. But what truly makes OutWrite stand out is the festival’s ongoing effort to include writers of all experience levels, from fledgling poets to best-selling authors. The melding of experiences among participants (and attendees) does away with typical lit-world gatekeeping, where only published writers are welcome or respected. Run almost exclusively by volunteers, the multiday festival, which has put on not one but two of its annual events virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remains free and open to anyone who wishes to attend. By removing barriers such as cost, status, and, recently, location requirements, OutWrite aims to make participants feel welcome, seen, and respected as queer writers. In doing so, the festival has created an enviroment where LGBTQ poets, authors, and memoirists can find a community that inspires and supports them as creators. D.C. is lucky we can call it ours.”

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]

Submissions Open for OutWrite’s 2021 Chapbook Competition 

April 5, 2021
Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson, OutWrite Co-Chairs

Submissions Opening for OutWrite’s 2021 Chapbook Competition 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — OutWrite is pleased to announce its third Chapbook Competition, running from April 15th to June 15th, 2021. The winning chapbooks will be celebrated at the 2021 OutWrite LGBTQ Literary Festival. Submission details are included at the end of this text.

Each winner will receive 25 copies of their winning chapbook, an offer of print publication from Neon Hemlock Press, and an opportunity to read from their work at OutWrite 2021.

Winning chapbooks will be selected in three categories by the competition judges:

Nonfiction: Christopher Gonzalez
Christopher Gonzalez is the author of I’m Not Hungry but I Could Eat, a story collection forthcoming from SFWP in fall 2021. His writing has appeared in the Nation, Catapult, the Millions, Best Small Fictions 2019, and elsewhere. He is a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and lives in Brooklyn, NY, but mostly on Twitter @livesinpages.

Fiction: Darcie Little Badger
Darcie Little Badger is a Lipan Apache writer with a PhD in oceanography. Her critically acclaimed debut novel, Elatsoe, was featured in Time Magazine as one of the best 100 fantasy novels of all time, and her second novel, A Snake Falls to Earth, is publishing with Levine Querido in October 2021. Darcie’s short fiction, nonfiction and comics have appeared in multiple places, including Nightmare Magazine, Strange Horizons, and The Dark. She is currently engaged to a veterinarian named T.

Poetry: Dena Rod
Dena Rod is a non-binary poet whose work has been highlighted in My Shadow is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora, Butter Press, and Imagoes: A Queer Anthology. Their debut poetry collection is forthcoming from Milk and Cake Press May 2021. In 2020, Dena toured with Sister Spit, debuted the chapbook swallow a beginning, and joined The Rumpus‘s features team. A fellow of Kearny Street Workshop’s Interdisciplinary Writer’s Lab, Dena writes to illuminate their experiences in the Iranian American diaspora and queer communities through creative nonfiction essays and poetry. Connect with Dena at denarod.com.

There is no fee to enter this year’s contest.

Please follow these guidelines in preparing your submission:

  • Chapbooks may be submitted in three categories: fiction, nonfiction & poetry.
  • We will accept submissions in all three categories in English.
  • OutWrite is a celebration of LGBTQ literature; entries that explore aspects of LGBTQ culture or identity are encouraged.
  • Thematically-linked works are encouraged, but not required. There are no limitations regarding genre.
  • Manuscripts should be no shorter than 20 pages and no longer than 40 pages. This does not include the table of contents or title page.
  • Submissions are open from April 15th to June 15th, 2021.
  • Each writer may only submit one entry per category.
  • Your manuscript should be in a standard size 12 font. Please single-space poetry and double-space prose/nonfiction. Please include a title page and a table of contents; do not include an acknowledgements page (winning entries will be given the opportunity to adjust front and back matter before publication).
  • The collection as a whole must be unpublished, but individual poems/stories/essays may be previously published (as long as relevant rights have reverted to you).
  • We will be accepting simultaneously submitted work. All semi-finalists will be required to remove their work from simultaneous review upon notification.
  • Winners will be announced in July. Publication will be in fall 2021.

Entries must be submitted no earlier than April 15th, 2021 and no later than June 15th, 2021. The submission window closes at 11:59pm EST on June 15th.

Submit all entries via this submission form. Queries can be made to outwritecontest@gmail.com. If the form is inaccessible to you for any reason, please email your submission to the email above with all of the information requested by the form.

Any updates to these guidelines will be posted here.

About OutWrite
OutWrite is a celebration of LGBT literature, held annually the first weekend in August in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit: thedccenter.org/outwrite.

About Neon Hemlock Press
Neon Hemlock is a purveyor of queer chapbooks and speculative fiction based in Washington, DC. More information at www.neonhemlock.com.

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.

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.