2022 LGBTQ Writers Caucus Script

Hello,

Whether you were able to join us or not, if you were interested in reading the scripted minutes of our virtual caucus meeting you can find them here (a view only google doc), or below.

We encourage you to check out our

Thanks, and happy writing!

LGBTQ Writers Caucus Meeting

AWP LGBTQ Writers Caucus Leadership Team

Agenda for Leadership Team 

Friday, March 25, 2022

8pm-9:15pm Eastern

LGBTQ Writers Caucus

Eduardo Ballestero, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, LM Brimmer,

Belinda Kremer, Derek Scheips, & K. Ka‘imilani Leota Sellers

Virtual

F258. LGBTQ Writers Caucus. 

(Eduardo Ballestero, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, LM Brimmer,

Belinda Kremer, Derek Scheips, & K. Ka‘imilani Leota Sellers) 

The LGBTQ Writers Caucus provides a space for writers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer to network and discuss common issues and challenges, such as representation and visibility on and off the literary page, and how to incorporate one’s personal identity into their professional and academic lives. The caucus also strives to discuss, develop, and increase queer representation for future AWP conferences and serve as a supportive community and resource for its members. This meeting will be held over Zoom. 

I. Welcome Announcements (‘imi, Eduardo, & Belinda)

  • Welcome & When you join the Zoom meeting you will be invited to change your name to “Name (Pronouns) Location.”
  • Chat 
  • Time, breakouts, chat
  • Accessibility

II. Welcome/Opening Ceremony (3 minutes) (each person having 30 seconds each)

(Co-Facilitators: Full Team, Facilitators: LM & Ahimsa

  1. Talking about our values as a caucus.

1. Offering & Receiving Care (PowerVersCarer)

2. Tending Relationships

3. Centering Intersectionality

4. Cultivating Collectivity

5. Ensuring Sustainability

6. Engaging Creativity

2. How we begin our meetings, checking in with each other as full humans.

  • Modeling vulnerability, dialoguing, & sharing.
  • Encourage caucus members to invoke as well in chat.

Leadership Team Invocations:
Each leadership team member shares, calling into space: acknowledging intersections of communities, historical moments, struggles, losses, movements, and/or mobilizations.

= 30 seconds each

Caucus Members Invocations:
Invitation to caucus members to also simultaneously share, calling into space, using chat.
= For accessibility, potentially have leadership team members read aloud caucus member invocations once we’re collectively done with our individual ones.

Ahimsa: We are gathering this year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, traditional territory of the Lenape people. Wherever we live today, let us acknowledge the territories of Native nations, center Native communities and Indigenous sovereignty movements, support Native writers, and deepen commitments to Native North American, Two-Spirit/queer/trans Indigenous, and global Indigenous peoples, literatures, and movements.

LM:  Calling into space our shared breath as we honor the queer freedom fighters that have made the way for us to be here as individuals and as a collective. I also want to acknowledge our Black freedom fighter comrades that live and have lived in this place. And to all those in ongoing struggle for presence and livelihood! To bring into our awareness to the many in the work of protecting Trans and LGBQ lives and futures — including and especially those local to Philly and active during and since the Aids epidemic.

‘Imi:  Calling out from the constantly moving currents and waves of the Pacific Ocean, islands once reached by great canoes, connecting across time and space, vessels carved from towering trees, whose roots curved into the center of earth. I hold space for all Pacific Islanders, of all shades, colors, blood quantum, persuasions, orientations, and all of our stories, how we came to be.  I greet you from the land and forests of Hawai`i, from Mauka to Makai, sacred spaces who cannot speak for themselves.  

Eduardo: Giving thanks for the positive aspects of our lives, for a return to some semblance of normal, for masks and vaccines helping us survive and speed along the close of the pandemic, for books, films, and television shows that helped keep us sane and connected to other folks.

Belinda: Joining from Oakland, California, I acknowledge the land on which I live: Huichin, the unceded territory of the Chochenyo Ohlone people, who have continuously lived upon this land since time immemorial. I call into this space our creative and sustaining spirits. And I voice, on behalf of all of us who are feeling this right now: solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and a commitment to support them in any ways within my reach. 

Derek:  Derek: I acknowledge the Coast Salish people of the land where I reside and I am joining today from the traditional lands of the Lenape as an in-person attendee of AWP 2022. I hold space for all LGBTQ individuals and allies who continue to face the complexities of this troubling period of war and forced migration, climate change, political upheaval, economic, healthcare and housing inequalities-all while contending with systemic racism, misogyny, and homo and trans-phobia. I’m grateful to those who continue to stand up for themselves and for others and against the tide of fascism, hatred and ignorance through creativity, activism, endurance and the courage to work, write and teach for a better world.

III. Leadership Team Sharing/Executive Report (12 minutes) (each person having 2 minutes each)

(Co-Facilitators: Full Team, Facilitator: ___)

  • Leadership Team Shares:
    Each leadership team member shares personal reflections, perhaps by weaving introductions, work done as an individual in the world and/or LGBTQWC leadership team member, insights from working together, lessons learned, goals for future, and/or larger LGBTQ writing community issues.

Ahimsa: The LGBTQ Writers Caucus Leadership Team remains committed to intersectional diversity, social justice, and the healing potential of the arts. We have been onboarding new team members since the 2020 conference in San Antonio. This has been a process of shifting how we do things and deepening our commitments to diverse intersecting communities.

These past two years is the first time in the caucus’s 11-year history that its leadership team is majority people of color. We now have a team that is majority women of color and trans/genderqueer/nonbinary people of color.

This is also the first time ever, after years of organizing, the 8 identity-based caucuses—African Diaspora, Arab American, Asian American, Disabled and D/deaf, Indigenous Aboriginal, Latinx, LGBTQ, and Women’s—are not scheduled at the same time, and instead are scheduled at different times during the last three time slots of the three main days of the conference. This scheduling change came about through years of requests from multiple caucuses and direct conversations with staff. Please consider thanking AWP for this schedule change in your conference evaluations and requesting they make it a permanent one. We should never be forced to choose between our identities, communities, and movements.

We want to thank Mary Ann Thomas and Alan Lessik for their vital contributions as members of the leadership team the past few years. This year, we also welcomed two new members, Belinda Kremer and Derek Scheips.

We are currently a leadership team of African, Arab, European, Indigenous Pacific, Latinx, Caribbean, and Native North American descent, based in Hawai‘i, Oklahoma, Kentucky, California, Minnesota, and Washington State, with backgrounds in multigenre writing, editing, publishing, performance, education, multimedia and interdisciplinary arts, and community organizing.

We as intersectional communities are emerging from intense years filled with multiple interwoven crises—health, environmental, electoral, violently oppressive, geopolitical.

Having survived 2020 and 2021, I wonder what it would be like to live both long-term-endemic and hopefully post-pandemic, peri- and post-crises.

What are ways we are, can, and will touch each other again, through our words and bodies? Feel grounded in our senses, stories, and this world? Be fully creative? Be able to share together in meaningful ways? How can art, dialogue, and community heal us, help us envision future worlds, move us from private into public? What new stories will restore us?

When we move together, we are powerful. Let us be powerful together, today and always.

LM:  I’m glad to be back at AWP another year, to commit to the digestion of what it means to be a writer, both at this moment in my life and at this time in ours. Coming from Minnesota, in this time where Anti-Trans legislation, attacks on reproductive freedoms and the ongoing state-sanctioned violence continues against our Black community members, it can be difficult to dream. This week, whether we have joined virtually or in-person I hope we haven’t taken for granted the power of our LGBTQ relationships, or the “therapy” of hearing ourselves reflected in another’s words or experience. I know I’ve been touched by powerful reclamations of experience, formal interventions and 

In the chat: As a curator of a Queer reading series located in Minneapolis, MN, I have been so surprised at the longevity of our connections over zoom! Like many, we found the Zoom Fatigue and Digital to be a big challenge. We also found that the new connections we made from 2021-2022 have been true and positive.  As new curators, my colleague –the Black Lesbian writer Sherrie Fernandez Williams –and I were faced with new institutional partners, an intergenerational group of writers, and some questions about how to create space for new programming without the past resources and relationships that kept things ticking. For almost a year now, we have had a writing group that meets about every other week for a few hours to check in about current projects, make a little friendly gossip and take in a bit of queer literature and share bits of our own work.  As a small, but mighty community, we opened the stacks in order to create dialogue across broadband. We’ve even had joiners from the coasts. This group has supported each other through breakups, pet losses, and job transition. In 2023, Queer Voices Reading Series will celebrate it’s 30th year as a LGBTQIA+ reading series with a reinvigorated community of writers — one that reflects the various expressions of queerness in our community. 

‘Imi: This Big Island community, thousands of miles from the Mainland, is no exception to the devastation that occurred elsewhere in the world. Isolated, yet connected, everyone was affected. There is hope that some of the more positive aspects of the pandemic will continue to uplift people, such as free food boxes of fresh produce grown by local farmers for those in need, and Kupuna hours, letting the elderly shop early in the morning at grocery stores before the large crowds. There is hope that the Arts will once again become prominent in the community–cultural arts, dance, poetry reading, open mics. Open mic online just isn’t the same. I miss the opportunity to stand nervously before other poets and speak my truth, unmasking social injustice. 

While the act of writing is a solitary activity,  we still need community gathering with others for support and laughter. As on the Mainland, writers here in Hawai’i, and other island nations in the Pacific, are eager to connect with writers from across the nation, to speak about issues that plague us specifically: Social issues as pertaining to the LGBTQ communities, racism, poverty, health, brain drain, three or four generations living in crowded spaces, sea level rising, and the loss of sacred lands. There are many fights to be fought for social and environmental justice, through the arts, through poetry, Creative Nonfiction, fiction. 

For those members of our LGBTQ Caucus who are leaving the team this year, I hope to see you in the future, in words, in books, in the flow that connects us all, physically and creatively.        

Eduardo: This year has been my third and final year on the AWP LGBTQ Writer’s Caucus board. The time I’ve served has been a transitional period for the caucus, its members, and the world in general.

The three boards I’ve served with have had some of the most kind and giving people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. We’ve worked tirelessly for members, advocating on behalf of the interests of our intersecting and varied community.

My first year we worked to highlight the local queer community organizations in San Antonio and co-sponsored a local queer writer’s reading with the Esperanze Peace and Justice Center and we addressed concerns with AWPs dismissal of Executive Director Chole Schwenke. My second year we transitioned to a virtual caucus and overcame all the hurdles and challenges that came with that endeavor. And this final year has been about cataloging and preserving the institutional knowledge I have for our caucus leadership and community going forward.

Though there were some goals we wanted to work towards but could not actualize, my hope is that the core of the caucus board duties can continue moving forward. And I hope that we can get some buy-in and help from members on some possible bigger goals for next year, should there be interest and bandwidth to pursue them.

I hope to someday attend a sober mixer sponsored by the caucus, or another local queer writers reading. I hope that the caucus social media presence continues to grow, and I hope that we continue to work to make AWP more transparent on their panel selection results and raise both the quantity and quality of the queer panels and events each and every year.

It’s been my pleasure to serve on the board, and though I’m stepping down I have confidence our community is in good hands.

Belinda:  This year has been a mix of new beginnings, and loss. The death of my younger brother, Joaquin, tornadoed through our lives in a week start to finish almost exactly one year ago, and is a loss unlike any other. 

I would love to say that out of that loss has come new art, or new writing … but not yet.  Something that has fully fledged: a commitment to fostering connective and social spaces that are not based in mind-altering substances. Among this community, a community of creatives, makers, and writers, for whom alcohol and other drugs are often mythologized and romanticized as “creative,” I feel that making such spaces is crucial. I bring that drive to my work with this caucus. 

    That my own brother’s death is tied to a world dominated by COVID-19 from March of 2020 to March of 2021, and the attendant isolation, which can so easily amplify stress and addictions, adds a specific thread to this drive: a dedication to supporting positive sober options for my fellow Latinx caucus members, and those who are Black, Indigenous, or other Persons of Color. For any of us whose identities intersect at LGBTQ+, writer, and of color, the risk of disordered substance use is extremely, and disproportionately, high. I look forward, when we again gather fully in person, to alcohol-optional, or alcohol-free, socializing and connecting. And I welcome conversation about any aspect of these matters with any of you. 

New this year: at UC Berkeley, I served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQ+ Communities. My subgroup drove the painting over, and re-signing, of hostilely gendered language and signage in a large gym complex. And we are working to improve access, via an app, to instant information and directions to the campus’ existing inclusive restrooms, while the campus works on making more. These are changes that significantly improve daily life quality for us gender non-binary and QT people on campus. It’s hard to work, learn, or thrive when a 15-minute walk to an inclusive restroom presents a barrier to feeling relaxed and comfortable. From this experience, I bring to our caucus a close attention to the physical spaces in which future AWPs are held, and our off-site event choices, authorized or otherwise, in terms of the facilities’ inclusivity and accessibility commitments. 

Derek:  Like many, my writing, teaching and work the past few years have been filled with thorny conflicts, with alternating backgrounds and foregrounds of caregiving and grieving and anxiety about people close to me and far away, sometimes seeming without end. AWP 2021 was particularly charged for me because over the course of that event, I found out that my long-term partner Mike’s mother, whom we lived with as caregivers, would not be coming back from the hospital or rehab and in fact would finish her long struggle with cancer that very Sunday.

Before and after that huge loss, the longest period of unemployment and sustained solitude in my lifetime had led me into a deep dive about some key transitions in my life, particularly a reckoning of how my LGBTQ status had factored into my own and others’ treatment by employers, supervisors, co-workers, and in situations related to advancement in academia, publishing, the corporate world and finding affordable housing. Due to experiences and observations in recent years about who tends to be hired, promoted, retained, etc., I found myself grappling with the subtle kinds of mistreatment, discrimination, and ageism that LGBTQ folks often face in workplaces and classrooms, and seeking out forums and books in various genres to understand these problems and what can be done about them. I hope this caucus and the work for it in the coming year will allow me to make connections with those who’d like to share insights about these, and of course related issues, and for us all to be resources for each other and that together we can create positive change in academia as well as other fields creative writers find themselves in.

This caucus has been so welcoming to me as a new leadership member this year; a big thank-you to my leadership teammates for their context about the history of this caucus, willingness to explore new ideas and just general good will about important matters that relate to teaching, work and life.

IV. Breakout Sessions (30 minutes) (Co-Facilitators: Full Team, Facilitator: Eduardo to create the breakout rooms and stay outside to sort anyone who joins late/is not sent into a room)

5 breakout rooms, each with 1 of us as a host: 

‘imi   will lead in one closed caption breakout room

Derek, LM, Ahimsa, Eduardo will lead other breakout rooms

    1 person stays in main room, assigns people into breakout rooms if needed: Belinda (&/or Eduardo if there’s an access issue)

  1. Facilitator / LT member introduces self, space, time.
  2. Reflect on the challenges of the past year: where are you at and what you want for the future in terms of your writing life, projects and community. (Name, Pronouns, Where you are joining us from)
  3. Are there ways having Queer/Trans community support can help you actualize what you are working on now? How could the LGBTQ Writers Caucus be supportive? Are there ways AWP as a conference and organization support this work?
  4. If there’s time: Artistic Sharing — 1 minute readings? 1 line readings? (facilitator/s) 

V. Regathering/Election/Closing (20 minutes) 

A. Regathering (10 minutes) (Facilitator: LM)

= important insights from small groups, what people are most wanting in terms of

community, & for the future

= will also help transition us back into collective space before voting

= as transition — will bring up:
AWP 2023 Seattle
i. AWP LGBTQ Writers Caucus Proposal
ii. Encouraging proposals from caucus members (most likely May 1st deadline)
iii. Joint caucuses request to not be scheduled at the same time.

B. Election (15 minutes) (Co-Facilitator: Ahimsa & Eduardo)

Ahimsa:
With the leadership team, our goal is to have 6 members. This year, 4 members are eligible to remain and would like to stay on for another term. 2 would be serving their 3rd/final years. That would be Ka‘imilani and myself. And 2 would be serving their 2nd year. That would be Belinda and Derek. This would allow for a continuity of leadership and organizational memory to be shared as we welcome and onboard new team members.

We would like to do a combined voice/chat vote on this slate of these 4 team members continuing on for the next year. If you support this motion, please say out loud “Yes” or type “Yes” in the Zoom chat.

We are also seeking 2 additional new members, and welcome all to self-nominate or to nominate others.

To nominate yourself for the role, please fill out the 2022 LGBTQ Writers Caucus followup questionnaire. In it are questions about volunteering and nominating yourself to potentially join the team. The link to the questionnaire is here in the Zoom chat.

Google Form 2022

As this is the first time in the caucus’s history that we have a majority people of color leadership team, and also specifically the first time the team is majority women of color and trans/genderqueer/nonbinary people of color, we want to encourage women of color and trans/genderqueer/nonbinary people of color to nominate themselves for this role.

The existing leadership team will then follow up with the nominees. Eduardo will now describe some of what the leadership team has done and might do in the future. Thank you.

Eduardo:

Describe the activities/responsibilities of the leadership team. Mention that the team would benefit from someone interested to push our social media, and/but that shouldn’t preclude anyone from putting themselves forward.

C. Closing (5 minutes) Facilitator: LM

  • Thank everyone for coming – put a word in the chat as an aspiration or wish for queer community.  (a word as in one word or sentence)
  • One word/sentence check out: what people are most wanting in terms of community, and for the future 
  • Google Form 2022 

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