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Expressing our literary pride

Posted: July 11th, 2014 | Columns, Featured, News, Out on the Page | No Comments

Caleb Rainey | Out on the Page

It is with great excitement that I write this article. Not only is Pride this month but San Diego will play host to the first multicultural LGBT literary festival on the West Coast!

The San Diego Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation in partnership with Diversionary Theatre and Lambda Archives will be starting Pride weekend with the first annual “Expressions of Pride.” The event takes place on Friday, July 18 from 1 – 5 p.m. right before the Stonewall Rally on Normal Street where Laverne Cox is the featured speaker.

Expressions of Pride will take place at the Diversionary Theatre space located at 4545 Park Boulevard, in University Heights. The event is free and open to all ages. It will feature a literary festival, curated by the Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation, with literally hundreds of titles by LGBT writers.

Dozens of books from LGBT authors of color will be presented at “Expressions of Pride.”   (Photos by Courtesy Caleb Rainey)

Dozens of books from LGBT authors of color will be presented at “Expressions of Pride.”
(Courtesy Caleb Rainey)

“Expressions of Pride will have queer classics by authors like James Baldwin, Gloria Anzaldúa, Audre Lorde, and Michael Nava, alongside new favorites like Craig Womack, Malinda Lo, Charles Rice-González, and Ghalib Dhalla,” stated the press release.

As someone involved at the Foundation and a lover of literature, I could not be more excited about this historic event. The theme of this year’s Pride is “Reflections of Pride,” one that encourages looking back at where we have come from and determining what that past means for where we are going.

Our stories are a critical part of that reflection process. From the trembling hand of Baldwin as he penned Giovanni’s Room to the in-your-face queerness of David Levithan’s “Two Boys Kissing,” our literature holds our past and allows us to imagine a prouder and freer future.

Often art and literature specifically are not viewed as integral to Pride celebrations. So I am thrilled to see Expressions of Pride being offered and carving out a space for art and literature during Pride weekend. The organizers of the festival also state in the press release, “Be sure to stock up, as you won’t find this selection of titles and authors anywhere else! Add titles to your own library from our selection of general fiction, poetry, and memoir by LGBT writers of color or enliven your teen’s ‘Summer Reading List’ with books from our huge selection of young adult fiction. And, of course, multicultural families with young children will love looking through our collection of picture books.”

With so few events catered to children and young adults, this is truly a remarkable feat on behalf of the host organizations. The studies are in and it is clear that LGBT youth must see themselves reflected positively. It builds self-esteem and decreases feeling of isolation and self-hatred.

The exposure to young adult literature by LGBT people would have made my life so much easier than it was during those formative teen years. I am thrilled that current children and teens now have the opportunity to explore stories that reflect them and their families positively. The event will also feature two trans writers, Tom Cho and Ryka Aoki, who will be doing readings and signings. Lambda Archives has curated an amazing exhibit detailing the history of LGBT literature and you will be able to pick up tickets for the latest Diversionary play at the event as well.

Lastly, Manuel A. Acevedo, an incredible visual artist whose work explores gay Latino masculinity, will be showing his original artwork and prints. This will be his first solo show in San Diego and is not to be missed.

Pride is one of the few times each year that all branches of the community come together to celebrate being LGBT and all that has meant to us. Let’s be sure to not forget about our writers or communities of color that have been so instrumental in the forming of our community.

For more information regarding Expressions of Pride visit sdliteraryfoundation.org/events or email the Foundation at info@sdliteraryfoundation.org.

—Caleb Rainey is a literature enthusiast and activist who juggles several jobs and tries to make time to read! He has a master’s in cultural studies from SDSU and serves on the board of the Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation. Contact him at calebrainey73@yahoo.com.

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