Eleven years ago, in the late winter of 2001, I offered my first Boston area Wednesday night writing workshop. I had moved to Somerville from Vermont the year before, and had been couch surfing with some generous friends after the end of my marriage left me jobless and homeless. The Boston LGBTIQQAA community welcomed me, supported me, and fully embraced me, in every way. I owe such a debt of gratitude to Gunner Scott and his monthly open mic, GenderCrash, as well as to folks like Kristen Porter, of Dyke Night, Ren Jender, who curated the Amazon Poetry Slam, Abe Rybeck and The Theater Offensive, and Aliza Shapiro, of Truth Serum Productions. My heart is full with gratitude to each and every event producer, individual, and group who creates our rich and diverse LGBTIQQAA culture, and I count myself blessed to be a member of that community. I am even more blessed to be able to be of what service I may to that same community through the offerings of Write Here, Write Now.
Please understand, I have been a very fortunate queer, indeed, from the earliest days of my coming out. San Francisco in the late eighties and early nineties was a place both devastating and delightful. We were fierce and we were fighting and we were dying every day. We were loud and we were loving and we learned that Silence truly equals Death and what we didn’t whisper passionately into each other’s ears, we shouted in the streets at the top of our lungs. I learned, there, what chosen family can be, what community can be, what home can be. And I have never, for one minute since then, wanted to do anything other than extend the same hand of compassion and passion, service and support, to the LGBTIQQAA folks around me.
Two very important members of the queer and leather literary communities, at that time, and very much so, still, today deserve my thanks.
Dorothy Allison, who offered inexpensive writing workshops out of A Different Light Bookstore, in the Castro, gave me a chance to tell the sorts of stories about poverty and childhood, abuse and survival, that I never knew I had permission to write until her book, Trash, was published. In those small, back room classes, Dorothy created a community or emerging writers who challenged and cheered each other on to be the best storytellers they could be. She taught us the value of honest critique and the necessity for kindness, as well. I would not be a writer, today, much less an editor and writing coach, had it not been for Dorothy’s unmitigated generosity of heart.
Laura Antoniou, who will be reading at The Queer Memoir, Leather event, this Saturday, along with so many other fine writers, gave me my very first professional publication, when she picked my story, “Lost In Space” for her Leather Women II anthology. I am not at all shy to admit that when that book came out, I would lurk in the erotica section of A Different Light, waiting to see if someone would pick up Leather Women II, look over at me, and realize an actual author was standing next to them…
First times are giddy. My first writing class with Dorothy, my first publication with Laura. I hope that each and every time I sit down to work with an author, I remember the sweet vulnerability that I brought to these women, and that I am able, now, in my own time, to provide the gentle and kind, yet firm and thoughtful insight and guidance that Dorothy and Laura have given to me. They showed me what a literary home could look like, and I hope to continue to serve and support LGBTIQQAA storytelling and literary voices.