The Queer Writer: July 2024

I've been holding onto this news for a few months now, but it's finally public that I'm one of the new co-EICs for Foglifter Journal alongside the wonderful Dior Stephens. I'm so grateful for the EIC legacy MJ Jones has left Foglifter, and I'm glad they'll be sticking around with new responsibilities. While I'll miss my position as the managing editor of fiction, I know the brilliant Maria Picone will do an excellent job in the role. This also means that Foglifter will soon be looking for 1-2 new assistant editors of fiction. Keep an eye on our social media, as we'll likely be sending out a call by the end of the month.

Since the next Transcestors session will take place on Saturday, October 5th, I thought it'd be a great opportunity for Ancient Burial Sites. For as long as archaeologists have existed, they've been determining sex and gender from remains found in old burial sites. They catalog these findings to help paint a picture of people, identities, cultures, and societies of the past. But where do trans, nonbinary, and intersex people fall within these categorizations? How accurate are the scientific efforts to determine assigned sex? Is it possible to further determine one's gender identity based on such conclusions? And how have all of these cataloging attempts affected modern people's views of trans history? This session will look at exhumed ancient burial sites, from Peru to Italy to Finland to Bohemia, and discuss just how far back trans history goes. This session includes images of ancient burial remains (i.e. bones and fragments) and mentions of ancient rituals (e.g. human sacrifices). Remember that you need to register in order to attend!

We've hit the usual July slump for publishing, but there are still some wonderful book to be had, including platonic love through disability and music, a never-ending time loop before an important doctor's appointment, a retelling of the myth of Persephone set in 15th century West Africa, a BIPOC horror anthology, a Mississippi kid trying to fit in at an elite New England boarding school, a teen girl haunted by the ghost of her toxic ex-girlfriend, and the youngest sister in a family of valkyries!

Is there an upcoming queer book you’re excited about? Know of a great opportunity for queer writers? Read an awesome article about the (marginalized) writing world? Let me know! And as always, please share this newsletter with people you think might be interested.

Upcoming Classes

Novel in Progress

  • 8 Thursdays starting July 11th, 2024 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $540, scholarships available
  • 12 students maximum

First drafts of novels can be messy, amorphous, and daunting. Sometimes, extensive critical feedback can be counterproductive before the first draft is finished, yet writers often find themselves losing focus without support and guidance. In class, we will do exercises, discuss craft issues—characterization, the protagonist's desire, plot and outlining, endings—and read short scenes from each other's work, providing feedback in an environment that recognizes the specific challenges of the novel in progress. Novels of all genres are welcome. Please bring the first page (double-spaced, 12-point font, 1” margins) of your novel to the first class.

*This class is open to all identities.

Writing Messy Queer Characters

  • Saturday, July 27th, 2024 from 10:30am to 1:30pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $85, scholarships available
  • 12 students maximum

Disney villains, disaster lesbians, and hot trans messes, oh my! In this 3-hour class, we’ll look at “good” messy queers, “bad” messy queers, stereotypes, redemption, interiority, and mainstream media representations. Along with a lecture segment, we’ll also take time to discuss some common anxieties when writing a complex queer character, brainstorm craft elements for your story, and engage in a writing exercise.

*While this class is designed with queer writers in mind, cisgender/heterosexual writers are welcome to attend and learn. However, please know we won’t be discussing introductory levels of queer representation or community, nor the do’s and don’ts of writing outside of one’s lane.

Queery-ing: Navigating Agents and Publishers While Queer

  • Saturday, August 24th, 2024 from 10:30am to 1:30pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • $85, scholarships available
  • 12 students maximum

What does a “very nice deal” mean in a publishing contract announcement? What’s a pre-empt? How does the trajectory from query to book deal normally work? Navigating the publishing industry is confusing at the best of times, but when you’re also a marginalized writer, it can feel overwhelming. In this 3-hour crash course, we’ll spend the first half in lecture and information—including query letters, industry language, standard agent contract rates, the differences of publishing houses, and more—and the second half in a mix of Q&A and beginning to build our query letters, all while centering queer writers and the particular challenges they may face.

*This class is intended only for LGBTQ+ writers.

**FREE!** Transcestors Series: Ancient Burial Sites

  • Saturday, October 5th, 2024 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm ET
  • Virtual via Zoom
  • FREE!

For as long as archaeologists have existed, they've been determining sex and gender from remains found in old burial sites. They catalog these findings to help paint a picture of people, identities, cultures, and societies of the past. But where do trans, nonbinary, and intersex people fall within these categorizations? How accurate are the scientific efforts to determine assigned sex? Is it possible to further determine one's gender identity based on such conclusions? And how have all of these cataloging attempts affected modern people's views of trans history? This session will look at exhumed ancient burial sites, from Peru to Italy to Finland to Bohemia, and discuss just how far back trans history goes. This session includes images of ancient burial remains (i.e. bones and fragments) and mentions of ancient rituals (e.g. human sacrifices).

Transcestors is a series of free 1-hour sessions focused on trans and queer (but mostly trans) history based on Milo Todd's research for his historical fiction. Those interested must have any subscription tier of The Queer Writer, paid or free, and must use their subscriber email to register for sessions. For safety reasons, sessions will NOT be recorded. A Zoom link will be sent to registered attendees ~15 minutes before a session starts.

*Sessions are open to all identities, but please know Transcestors centers trans and/or nonbinary attendees.

Anticipated Books

Disclosure: I'm an affiliate of Any purchase through my storefront supports local bookstores and earns me a commission. Win-win!

The Loudest Silence by Sydney Langford

Sixteen-year-old Casey Kowalski once dreamed of becoming a professional singer. Then the universe threw her a life-altering curveball--sudden, permanent, and profound hearing loss--mere months before her family's cross-country move from Portland to Miami. Now, faced with the dual challenges of starting over at a new high school and learning to navigate the world as a Deaf-Hard of Hearing person, Casey is mourning the loss of her music while trying to conceal her hearing loss from her new schoolmates. Soccer captain Hayden González-Rossi is facing challenges of his own. Three generations of González men have risen to stardom on the soccer field, including Hayden's older brother, who just became Inter Miami CF's hottest new recruit. Hayden knows his family expects him to follow in their footsteps, but he has a secret: all he wants is to quit the soccer team and pursue a career on Broadway. If only his Generalized Anxiety Disorder didn't send him into a debilitating spiral over the thought of telling his family the truth. Casey and Hayden are both determined to hide who they really are. But when they cross paths at school, they end up bonding over their shared love of music and their mutual feeling that they don't quite belong, and the secrets come spilling out. Their intimate friendship is the beating heart of this dual-perspective story featuring thoughtful disability representation, nuanced queer identities, and a lovably quirky supporting cast.

Time and Time Again by Chatham Greenfield

Phoebe Mendel's day is never ending--literally. On August 6th, she woke up to find herself stuck in a time loop. And for nearly a month of August 6ths since, Phoebe has relived the same day: pancakes with Mom in the morning, Scrabble with Dad in the afternoon, and constant research into how to reach tomorrow and make it to her appointment with a doctor who may actually take her IBS seriously. Everything is exactly, agonizingly the same. That is, until the most mundane car crash ever sends Phoebe's childhood crush Jess crashing into the time loop. Now also stuck, Jess convinces Phoebe to break out of her routine and take advantage of their consequence-free days to have fun. From splurging on concert tickets, to enacting (mostly) harmless revenge, to all-night road trips, Jess pulls Phoebe further and further out of her comfort zone--and deeper in love with them. But the more Phoebe falls for Jess, the more she worries about what's on the other side of the time loop. What if Jess is only giving her the time of day because they're trapped with no other options? What if Phoebe's new doctor dismisses her chronic pain? And perhaps worst of all: What if she never gets the chance to find out?

Masquerade by O. O. Sangoyomi

Òdòdó's hometown of Timbuktu has been conquered by the warrior king of Yorùbáland, and living conditions for the women in her blacksmith guild, who were already shunned as social pariahs, grow even worse. Then Òdòdó is abducted. She is whisked across the Sahara to the capital city of Ṣàngótẹ̀, where she is shocked to discover that her kidnapper is none other than the vagrant who had visited her guild just days prior. But now that he is swathed in riches rather than rags, Òdòdó realizes he is not a vagrant at all; he is the warrior king, and he has chosen her to be his wife. In a sudden change of fortune, Òdòdó soars to the very heights of society. But after a lifetime of subjugation, she finds the power that saturates this world of battle and political savvy too enticing to resist. As tensions with rival states grow, revealing elaborate schemes and enemies hidden in plain sight, Òdòdó must defy the cruel king she has been forced to wed by reforging the shaky loyalties of the court in her favor, or risk losing everything--including her life.

A Darker Mischief by Derek Milman

When Cal Ware wins a scholarship to an elite New England boarding school, he's thrilled to leave his past behind. Back home in Mississippi, he was the poor, queer kid who never fit in. But at Essex Academy, he'll be able to reinvent himself. Or so he hopes....But at Essex, Cal's classmates only see his cheap clothes and old iPhone. They mock his accent, and can't believe he's never left the country, or heard of The Hamptons. Cal, at his breaking point, is about to give up and return to Mississippi when he learns about a secret society on campus -- the key to becoming Essex royalty. Cal knows he's not exactly secret society material, but to his surprise, he finds an unlikely champion in the handsome, charismatic, and slightly dangerous Luke Kim. As they get swept up in the mystery and glamour of the Rush process, Cal finds himself falling in love for the first time. But as the initiation rituals grow riskier -- and increasingly nefarious -- Cal must decide how far he's willing to go, and how much of himself he's willing to sacrifice, to save everything and everyone he cherishes most. Because nothing at Essex -- not even Cal's first love -- is quite what it seems.

Rise by Freya Finch

For seventeen-year-old Bryn, being the youngest, messiest, most rebellious sister in a family of valkyries isn't easy. Especially considering home is a Renaissance faire in Chicago full of costumed workers who see her as nothing more than a nuisance. When her mother disappears on a mission for Odin, Bryn begins having strange visions about the impending Ragnarök. Bryn senses their mother is in great danger, but her annoyingly perfect older sisters refuse to take her seriously. Their mother is, after all, captain of the valkyries. Things only take a turn for the worse when a half human, half giant named Juniper crashes the party with a violent zombie in tow, confirming Bryn's worst fears--her visions of Ragnarök are real. If that wasn't enough, the faire's mysterious new addition, Wyatt the Black Knight, just so happens to have a ferocious secret that threatens everyone around him. Determined to survive Ragnarök, Bryn, Juniper, and Wyatt team up to combat the horde of monsters that keeps appearing throughout the faire. But after Bryn ignores the call to deliver Wyatt to Odin's eternal warriors in Valhalla, choosing to save his life instead, she starts to wonder if she'll ever get this valkyrie thing right. Whispers of divine interference--including sightings of the mischievous Loki--reach Bryn's ears. Soon everyone at the faire becomes a suspect, leaving Bryn, her sisters, and their newfound friends the only ones who can stop the war to end all realms. Whether she's ready or not, Bryn is about to learn how the ties between fate and choice are as interwoven and unbreakable as the bonds between sisters.

I Will Never Leave You by Kara A. Kennedy

Maya has always belonged to Alana. After four years of dating, and on the precipice of graduating high school, Maya has been too terrified to consider the idea of life outside of their volatile relationship. Until she finds the courage to break up with Alana while they're hiking in Southern California. Then Alana goes missing. As the police get involved and the media run wild with the story, everyone seems to think that Maya is lying about Alana's disappearance. Secretly, Maya knows they're right: if Alana's dead, she's the one to blame. But that's not Maya's only secret. Alana isn't gone, not really--and she isn't going to let Maya go so easily...

The White Guy Dies First: 13 Scary Stories of Fear and Power by Terry J. Benton-Walker (editor)

13 SCARY STORIES. 13 AUTHORS OF COLOR. 13 TIMES WE SURVIVED... THE FIRST KILL. The White Guy Dies First includes thirteen scary stories by all-star contributors and this time, the white guy dies first. Killer clowns, a hungry hedge maze, and rich kids who got bored. Friendly cannibals, impossible slashers, and the dead who don't stay dead....A museum curator who despises "diasporic inaccuracies." A sweet girl and her diary of happy thoughts. An old house that just wants friends forever....These stories are filled with ancient terrors and modern villains, but go ahead, go into the basement, step onto the old plantation, and open the magician's mystery box because this time, the white guy dies first. Edited by Terry J. Benton-Walker, including stories from bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming contributors: Adiba Jaigirdar, Alexis Henderson, Chloe Gong, Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, H. E. Edgmon, Kalynn Bayron, Karen Strong, Kendare Blake, Lamar Giles, Mark Oshiro, Naseem Jamnia, Tiffany D. Jackson, and Terry J. Benton-Walker.


Want a previously published book showcased? Let me know! The given work must: 1) be written by a self-identified member of the LGBTQ+ community, 2) be published within the last five years, 3) has not yet appeared on the ICYMI list, and 4) wasn't included in the Anticipated Books section within the last three months. All genres and independently-published works welcome.

Disclosure: I'm an affiliate of Any purchase through my storefront supports local bookstores and earns me a commission. Win-win!

Pretty by Kb Brookins 

Even as it shines light on the beauty and toxicity of Black masculinity from a transgender perspective--the tropes, the presumptions--Pretty is as much a powerful and tender love letter as it is a call for change.

"I should be able to define myself, but I am not. Not by any governmental or cultural body," Brookins writes. "Every day, I negotiate the space between who I am, how I'm perceived, and what I need to unlearn. People have assumed things about me, and I can't change that. Every day, I am assumed to be a Black American man, though my ID says 'female, ' and my heart says neither of the sort. What does it mean--to be a girl-turned-man when you're something else entirely?"

Informed by KB Brookins's personal experiences growing up in Texas, those of other Black transgender masculine people, Black queer studies, and cultural criticism, Pretty is concerned with the marginalization suffered by a unique American constituency--whose condition is a world apart from that of cisgender, non-Black, and non-masculine people. Here is a memoir (a bildungsroman of sorts) about coming to terms with instantly and always being perceived as "other".

The Show House by Dan Lopez

Quirky Orlando retirees Thaddeus and Cheryl, and adoptive parents Steven and Peter, come together for a family weekend in Orlando, where Cheryl anxiously hopes to repair the dysfunctional and toxic relationship between her husband and their son. When news of a serial killer that targets gay men at nightclubs rocks their community, over-worked pharmacist Laila grows concerned for her handsome and arrogant younger half-brother, Alex, who has been missing for several months. Meanwhile, the calculating murderer's own life begins to spiral out of control as he unwittingly falls for a would-be victim. Overwhelmed by meeting his granddaughter Gertie for the first time, Thaddeus kidnaps her in order to take her to Disney World setting off a wild goose chase where these intertwined families finally collide.

Native Voices: A Literary Collection of Emerging Indigenous Writers by Monique Franz (editor)

The ancestors call out from the land, emerging in the contemporary works of the authors, poets, and playwright of “Native Voices.” This collection highlights themes of identity, resistance, and reclamation of culture and history among the indigenous voices of the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The featured authors are the winners and finalists of Kinsman Quarterly's 2023 Native Voices Award. Tim Jones of the Seminole Tribe of Florida served as guest judge, handpicking the captivating literature of authors, poets, and playwrights who ranked highest among submissions from 38 nations and 98 indigenous communities. The contributing authors in alphabetical order (by first name) are Alysha Brooks, Brooke Waukau, Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees, Joseph Ikhenoba, Radiyah Nouman, Rizka Nafiah, Shantell Powell, Shrinidhi Darbhe, Sophia Obianamma Ofuokwu, Sunday Abel, Tonnie MAC, and Vernica Goel.


Let's Say Gay!: A Queer Youth Literary Journal

  • What: "Let’s Say Gay is open to queer artists between the ages of 13 and 18, and is currently accepting short fiction, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. We only accept one entry per category, but welcome submissions in multiple genres (you may submit one entry for both poetry and visual arts). Selections are broken into two age-based categories: 13-15 and 16-18. Proof of age will be required for applicants whose work is chosen. Your piece will be published with your age and your first name, or the penname you choose. Your submission can be printed with full anonymity. Safety is paramount."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: July 1st, 2024

The Ex-Puritan: Essays - Summer 2024

  • What: "Please include a succinct description of no more than 250 words in the Cover Letter field, along with a full working draft of your essay as a Word doc. The essays should compel us with daring ideas and urgent, captivating writing. Submissions should not exceed 5000 words. We are especially interested in work by LGBTQ2S+ writers, BIPOC writers, and writing from other marginalized folks."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: dependent on category
  • Deadline: July 15th, 2024

Ode To Dionysus: The Field of Enna

  • What: "To us, Dionysus is a symbol of freedom, acceptance, and creativity. We wish to reflect these themes in our literary journal, and create a safe space where creative individuals can share their work and thrive! The title [of the current call] is inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘Demeter and Persephone’ (1889). We would like to see works that are influenced by the mother of nature, Demeter, and her experiences with love, loss, and heartache."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: July 31st, 2024

Bi Women Quarterly Fall 2024: Child Free

  • What: "In this very complex world we live in, there are so many reasons one might decide not to procreate. Would you like to share yours? Motherhood and womanhood are too often conflated, and choosing not to parent can carry stigma, no matter your gender. How has this decision affected the way you see your gender, your sexuality, yourself?"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: August 1st, 2024

SCAB Magazine: Issue 15

  • What: "SCAB is a transgressive online magazine aiming to represent these very principles in the realm of visual arts and literature. The motto might be something like this: the worse the better."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: August 1st, 2024

PRISM International Issue 63.1: Spells

  • What: "Consider words as 'performative utterances.' They do not just describe, they do things ー they perform actions....We invite you to share these spells with us and to consider what effects the order of your language might elicit. Send us poetry, prose, and hybrid works that contemplate the meaning and impact of 'spell' in any or all of its manifestations. If you wish, we invite you to weave in traditions associated with spell, drawing on the dialectic between the literary and the magical. Or leave such traditions behind altogether. Go as wide or as narrow with the definition as you wish. We encourage submissions that play with the ordinary expectations of the form and that bring a heartbeat to it....We strongly encourage submissions from Black and Indigenous writers, writers of colour, writers with disabilities, LGBTQIA2S+ writers, and writers from other intersectional and marginalized groups, including low-income earners. If you identify as one or more of the above and would like to let us know, please mention it in your cover letter."
  • Fee: $3
  • Pay: $40/printed page for prose and $45/printed page for poetry
  • Deadline: August 2nd, 2024

Sinister Wisdom: Gender Diverse Lesbians

  • What: "Gender nonconformity has long, thick, roots in Lesbianism, but the coexistence of being other gendered and Lesbianism is as varied in its narrative as what is meant by 'gender diverse,' 'nonbinary,' and/or 'other gendered.' The controversy surrounding French Lesbian philosopher Monique Wittig’s statement, 'Lesbians are not women,' provides a snapshot into this tension. This conclusion stemmed from her broader argument that woman is a social and political class defined by the patriarchal heterosexual contract; that man and woman are categories of dominance. Conceptualizing Lesbianism as resistance to the patriarchy-as freedom to be and love whoever despite the existing man-made binaries of humanity’s social roles, places Lesbians outside of 'man' and 'woman.'"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: August 31st, 2024

North Carolina Literary Review 2025 Special Feature Section: NC LGBTQIA+ Literature

  • What: "Randall Kenan. Bertha Harris. David Sedaris. Allan Gurganus. Jim Grimsley. These are just a handful of North Carolina authors who write openly and passionately about queer identities, issues, and joy. Whether explored through characters, journalism, memoir, poetry, drama, or other genres, these writers – along with other emerging or overlooked NC artists we hope to learn more about – offer us clear-eyed and profoundly enriching narratives about what it means to be queer in the South. This special feature section of NCLR focuses on NC LGBTQIA+ Literature and its impact on literary and cultural studies."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: August 31st, 2024

Sinister Wisdom: Barbie: the Movie

  • What: "In this special issue, Sinister Wisdom will explore lesbians' reactions to Barbie: The Movie. How do we voice the joy and gratitude of this cultural moment where lesbian lives and lesbian culture is expressed in the movie with a major musical plotline from the Indigo Girls and two out dykes with major roles in this movie, now the highest grossing movie in Warner Brothers' history? What else do we think and feel about this cultural moment? Were you expecting to feel deeply personally touched by Barbie? What was a special scene that reflects your dyke life? Were you surprised or shocked by your reaction to the film? How do we understand Barbie's continuing life and its relationship to lesbians and lesbian culture?"
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: TBD

The Bitchin' Kitsch

  • What: "The B’K is a quarterly art and lit, online and printed magazine prioritizing traditionally marginalized creators, but open to all."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $10
  • Deadline: rolling

Bella Books Call for Submissions

  • What: "At Bella Books, we believe stories about women-loving-women are essential to our lives—and so do our readers. We are interested in acquiring manuscripts that tell captivating and unique stories across all genres—including romance, mystery, thriller, paranormal, etc. We want our books to reflect and celebrate the diversity of our lesbian, sapphic, queer, bisexual, and gender non-conforming community—in all our glorious shapes, sizes and colors. Our desire to publish diverse voices is perennial. We don’t want to tell your stories for you—we want to amplify your voices....We publish romance, mystery, action/thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, erotica and general fiction. At this time, we are particularly interested in acquiring romance manuscripts."
  • Fee: N/A
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: rolling

Rebel Satori Press: LGBTQIA+ Speculative Fiction, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy Manuscripts

  • What: "Rebel Satori Press is pleased to announce the start of our new imprint for LGBTQ+ speculative fiction, Queer Space. The new imprint is now open to submissions of queer positive science fiction right on the bleeding edge of what is possible. We’re looking for all subgenres of speculative fiction involving LGBTQ+ characters written by LGBTQ+ authors, including but not limited to: sci-fi, interstitial, slipstream, horror, and supernatural fictional manuscripts."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: N/A
  • Deadline: rolling

Homebound Publications: LGBTQIA+ Writers (Poetry & Creative Nonfiction)

  • What: "Homebound Publications is a Trans/Queer Owned publishing house based in the Berkshire Mountains. Across all our imprints, we are deeply invested in reading and publishing diverse voices spanning across different religions, ethnicities, and marginalized communities. We strongly welcome submissions from of writers within the BIPOC and LGBTQIA communities, writers living with a disability, writers living with refugee status. . . to name a few. Writers from all backgrounds and communities should consider our press a safe space."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: Hybrid publisher; please see website
  • Deadline: rolling

Prismatica: Summer 2024

  • What: "Prismatica Magazine is a quarterly LGBTQ fantasy & science fiction magazine. Prismatica features short fiction and poetry from emerging and established LGBTQ authors. In the magazine’s stories and poems, readers can find fantasy and science-fiction of all sub-genres and cross-genres. We happily include magical realism, contemporary science-fiction, urban fantasy, and more."
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: rolling

Baest Journal

  • What: Baest Journal, "a journal of queer forms and affects," seeks to publish work by queer writers and artists.
  • Fee: $0
  • Pay: $0
  • Deadline: rolling


How “Right” and “Wrong” Ways to Be Queer Are Changing Fiction

by Emma Copley Eisenberg

Years ago, “queer” catapulted beyond being a synonym for LGBTQIA+ to become a political identity oriented around the pursuit of collective liberation from white supremacy, labor exploitation, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression. But now, for youngish city-dwelling progressive folk, it seems that the word has also come to mean a code of moral conduct. In the absence of religion or any laws worth trusting or an economic system that meets our basic needs, whether and how we live by the ethical codes of being a “good queer” has become one of the dominant ways that lefty Americans judge each other’s behavior—from how we date and fuck to how we socialize, work, consume, and spend our free time.

“Queerness rose in my life like a faith,” writes Lillian Fishman in her 2022 novel Acts of Service. “When I came to New York I found there were shared beliefs, shared systems, not among all queer people but among a set to whom queerness meant a specific type of ethical awareness. Here was how I would know what was good to want.”

On its face, the idea of following the rules of being a “good queer” seems low stakes, but for many people, fictional and real, it can mean the difference between having and not having social support. The dynamic of queer people correcting and policing each other’s queer virtuousness has become a common interaction in American queer television, from The Bisexual to The L Word Generation Q to Dear White People to Work in Progress to Vida. But in the past two years, books—specifically literary fiction—have become the place where queer people seem the most exhausted by this morality, as well as where we’re having the most fun pushing back on it.

Has the DEI Backlash Come for Publishing?

by Dan Sinykin and Richard Jean So

Initial enthusiasm leads to a spate of hires and acquisitions of books by more diverse writers. But, as we learned through our historical research and our discussions with people in the field, those hires receive too little support and endure discrimination, and many leave—if they’re not ousted first. Publishers announce the acquisitions brought in by editorial with fanfare. But publishers then fail to provide adequate investment in marketing, publicity, and sales; the titles underperform and, set up to fail, provide publishers with an excuse to disinvest. Looking to past eras of diversification in publishing, we find that the turning point comes about four years into the cycle, which is exactly where we are.

…Our data offer one big reason to hope that this time might be different: the volume. Previous cycles did not see nearly as large a burst in the sheer number of titles by writers of color as we have in the past few years. But publishing a wave of nonwhite writers is, in the grand scheme of things, relatively easy; reforming the industry so that it can support those writers and make the wave more than a passing one is hard. Already, initial sales figures have been disappointing, “leading certain publishers to conclude that the market was saturated,” according to the Times. Our research and interviews lead us to believe that the market is saturated only if one defines the market as white women from 35 to 60. Publishing has failed to invest in the infrastructure needed to discover and develop the latent readership for these books. And many argue that the industry itself still isn’t supportive of people of color in its ranks.

…Because publishers have long assumed that white women are their primary market, investment in building other readerships has been inhibited. They have seldom carried out the kinds of market research, for example, that would improve their ability to discover books for readers of different backgrounds. 

Milo Todd's logo of a simple, geometric fox head. It has a black nose, white cheeks, and a reddish-orange face and ears.
Until next time, foxies! Be queer, write books!