The litany of gay and lesbian writers is practically endless. From Plato, to Proust, Wilde, Ginsburg, and Capote, there seems to be an inordinate number of gay scribes relative to the number for straight writers. Their mastery of language, coupled with a unique, and non-heteronormative view of the world prompted many to cordon off their work into a distinct literary taxonomy: queer literature.
In August, Miami's Reading Queer festival debuted onto the local literary scene with a smash. It was the first attempt by local organizers to establish the town as a center for queer literature and performance art. The celebration brought together artists from various fields, all hell-bent on gender subversion.
Recently, the festival was awarded a $6,500 grant for the second year in a row, by the Miami Foundation and the National LGBTQ Task Force meant to support organization that educate and raise awareness about gay, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender issues in the local community.
"Queer literature isn't about sexual orientation," explained festival founder and artist, Neil de la Flor. "Queer is about warping socially agreed upon expectations about art, culture, what have you." Whether it's gender norms, literary structure, or themes, turning things on their heads is exactly what queer writers do best.
According to de la Flor, everyone can have an inner queer dial they can tap to amp up their creative endeavors. "As we get older, our desire to be counter cultural gets weaker, so I use queerness as an inner space I can get into to create something new," said de la Flor.
It's less about being gay, and more about being...well...punk. For example, in a patriarchal society nothing is more subversive than a man donning women's clothing, along with make-up, nail polish, wigs and the rest of the usual ephemera.
The money goes to fund various activities all associated with Reading Queer. Apart from the festival, they host an annual writing academy, writers salon, and web-based literary journal to archive work developed during the workshops and presented at the festival. So, how are they celebrating the recently bestowed honor? By throwing a drag show, of course.
Later this month, Reading Queer is partnering with the Miami Book Fair International to highlight some of the town's best queens, Juleisy y Karla, who will host an open mic reading and perform a variation on their own act. The ball, entitled This Is For The Ladies Who Brunch, will take place Sunday, November 23, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Swamp Pavillion (southeast corner of NE Third Street and Second Avenue).
During the show, Out of the Closet will be there to furnish willing audience members with drag regalia. Participants are encouraged to experiment and break gender norms, all while sipping on drinks, munching on granola, and watching some killer drop splits.
Next year's Reading Queer festival is still a long time away, and de la Flor isn't exactly sure what the line-up will look like. But with the first year under his belt, and a long financial runaway ahead of him, next year's festivities will go a long way to establish Miami as a national center for gender nonconformity.