Catherine's note: I noticed that this project had gone live and wanted to make sure more people knew about it. Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival is free to read and filled with stories and poetry by older queer folks about hanging in there, about the things that did get better, about the strategies that we used to make it. I reached out to one of the editors, Sandra Gail Lambert, and asked her to do a blog interview about the anthology. If you'd like to interview her, her co-editor or the contributors, their contact email is noted below. Please spread the word and let's get more things like this out there.
Tell us about this project.
SGL: Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival is an online collection of creative nonfiction and poetry from thirty-five LGBTQIA writers. Sandra Gail Lambert and Sarah Einstein are the editors.
Where did you get the idea to do this on the Internet?
SGL: Like a lot of us, Sarah and I woke up on November 9th desperate to do something, anything. Over the next few days, we flailed around for that first path of resistance. Sarah, who teaches at a university, was confronted with young queer students who were in a sort of shock as the world they'd always known was threatened. I live in community that includes many old lesbians who had a sense of returning to a world they had already survived. Some were in despair that they were going to have to do it all again, some were energized, but they all knew, as Sarah and I and so many other old queers did, that it was possible. We had the skills and strategies to resist and even thrive within oppression. As one of our contributors says, "we know how to do this." By November 12th, Sarah and I sent out a call for submissions to Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival.
We decided on an online anthology because that would be more immediate, less commercial, and it was what we had the energy to accomplish. Both Sarah and I are older and disabled and one of the skills we have to offer is knowing the limits of what we can accomplish and still be able to keep moving forward in our work.
How did you select the authors?
SGL: We sent out a call for submissions for writing "in response to the harder times that have come back around again." We wanted pieces about our experiences, our successes, the mistakes we made, the voices of those who were left out, and celebrations of all the ways we lived our lives. We said we wanted to reach back and recreate that combination of care and activism and add it to the already formidable power of the younger generations of queer folk.
The response was immediate and strong. Each day I'd wake up and there would be emails filled with stories of survival that helped lessen my own dismay. Poets honored and mourned the lives lost to the Plague. A young butch lesbian survived 1950's political witch hunters. A trans woman came to activism through the Civil Rights movement of the sixties.
For me, the anthology was already doing its job, and it gave me hope that these writings would work the same way for readers. We had originally decided on eighteen pieces being the right number for the anthology and then upped it to thirty-six as the wide variety of submissions poured in, and we still had to send out way too many rejections. But we had a specific mission for the anthology, so that helped us figure out which pieces to include.
What do you hope this project will accomplish?
SGL: We hope the anthology, as a whole, will be useful in the days to come as we figure out how to survive. Many of the contributors have agreed to be available to classrooms and organizations that want to take up the question of how LGBTQIA people and communities survive during times of oppression, and there will soon be tools available for book groups, high school teachers, and university professors who wish to include the anthology in their readings.
We also hope, as all editors of anthologies do, that our contributors will have their writings read and appreciated.
Will there be a follow-up such as a print edition or a new round of contributors?
SGL:We aren't doing a print edition. Everyone involved in this project—the writers, the publishers that granted us free reprint rights, the website interns, the editors—did this all as a labor of resistance and love in response to an urgent situation. It wouldn't be right to in any way commercialize the project. In addition, part of our mission is the anthology's free availability to students and teachers.
Any related projects in the works?
SGL: Some of the contributors are organizing readings. Others have suggested a series of video interviews. Also, soon there will be materials to support the use of the anthology in high school and university classrooms. Who knows what our contributors will come up with? As has been proved, they are amazingly resourceful. To contact Sarah and I or any of our contributors for interviews or more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.