The LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers’ Group
The LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers’ group is open to LGBTQ-identified adults interested in creative expression and social justice. During our meetings, we share and respond to work we have produced and engage in productive conversations about the writing process. Some of our projects include intergenerational workshops with queer youth, an original monologues production and various publications. Contact OutReach to confirm the date and time of the next meeting. OutReach, an LGBTQ Community Center at 600 Williamson Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53703. http://www.lgbtoutreach.org/.
Attendance at LGBTQ Narratives has diminished over the past few months. The group is evaluating how we’d like to move forward. Many of us continue to write, share our work and support each other. Some of our founding members have moved and moved on to new creative projects and collaborations. At one of our most recent meetings we responded to a prompt of what the LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers’ group means to each of us. My tribute follows:
Writing in Community: A Tribute to LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers
Writing is, for the most part, a solitary endeavor. It often begins with a response to an experience, or is prompted by a question. Like a journalist we ask, who, what, where, when, how and why. Sometimes we want to capture a memory that has passed, take a snapshot of a present moment, or visualize a future, real or imagined. We write to reminisce, to anchor ourselves and to dream. Most writer’s write because we have to. Words well up inside waiting to be released and expressed.
Some writers write only for themselves, capturing their lives in journals, to be reread and reflected upon. Others write for an audience, these are the storytellers and narrative poets. There are also activist-writers who write to persuade, to educate, to incite and to rally others to action, to galvanize for change. We write to share personal narratives and pass on our oral histories, traditions and values, and leave a legacy for generations who follow.
When writers share their work with trusted others: editors, critics, mentors, and friends, writing becomes a collaborative act; we are now writing in community. The power of one, the power of the personal, becomes amplified; it becomes the power of many, the power of community.
The LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers group has informed my work in countless ways. It has made me a better writer and has introduced me to the work, the gifts, and stories of others. I’ve been witness to its evolution from an essay-reading, discussion group responding to prompts by luminaries such as Audre Lorde, to becoming an incubator and workshop for emerging and practiced writers, who break the silence, speak the unspeakable, and reveal the intimate, personal and diverse identities that make up our community. We empower ourselves by forging our common bonds and by celebrating our uniqueness, first putting words to page, then reading them aloud in our own voice: our stories, our words, our lives, become our power.
In life we often become what we do. I became a writer by writing. By writing in community, I found my home, my allies.
Productions & Publications
Queers Read This Too
The first collaborative writing project, Queers Read This Too was published in 2010 and distributed at the Wisconsin Capitol Pride March in Madison, Wisconsin as a response to Queers Read This, a leaflet published anonymously and handed out at the 1990 Pride March in New York City. The zine included essays, personal narratives, and poetry.
Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed
Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed is a full-length theatrical production featuring original monologues written, directed, and performed by members and allies of LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers’ group. The show is based on the writers’ lived experiences, and it aims to make visible the parts of ourselves that might otherwise go unnoticed, to put into words the very things that are most difficult to say and to share with the world the pain, fear, horror, beauty, love and hope of our queer lives.
The grassroots project is designed to interact with the community by continuously integrating new work and by collaborating with social justice, educational and community partners. Our debut performances at Broom Street Theater in July 2012 sold out and were followed by a special Coming Out Day performance on October 11th at UW-Madison sponsored by the LGBT Campus Center. Our final show for 2012 was October 25th at Edgewood College, co-sponsored by COR (named in recognition of Edgewood’s motto, cor as cor loquitur, Latin for “heart speaks to heart”), exploring identity through the lens of theatre. COR encourages students to examine the connection between identity, learning, beliefs, and actions, in order to build a more just and compassionate world.
In July 2013 Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed will return to Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin and feature new monologues in addition to reprising core works. The show will travel the Midwest following the July performances.
GLBTQ Teen Pride Arts
On Sunday, January 20, 2013, actors and producers of Conceal & Carry: Queers Exposed joined Déjà vu for Two artists, Todd Olson and Nicole Bresnick, artist Lon Michels, MFA, and youth performers of Proud Theater for a night of art and performance especially for GLBTQ teens at the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice
Read more about LGBTQ Narratives: Where Words and Action Meet in the Wisconsin Network for Peace & Justice newsletter: