If You Don't Support Queer Arts, Honey Badger Won't

Apparently it's art grant season in DC, and the awardees have been announced. Like last year, the DC Center (DC's LGBT Center) and it's arts program did not receive any funding. Not too surprising--this year was more competitive: the number of categories reduced from 16 to 9 and for the first time, the District Commision on the Arts and Humanities "opened its Grants-in-Aid program to organizations that also receive federal aid through the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs grant program."

The entire list of awardees can be found online here.

Looking at the list of 228 awardees, it's clear that literary arts are not quite the priority. On the one hand, theater is. And theater is literature right? The usual suspects are here as well: Corocran Gallery, the Smithsonian. Of the 228, 22 are literature related. Of those 22, only 2 are for queer projects. These two are individual grants, which while great, doesn't really help a community, doesn't help queer literature--our stories, our words--flourish.

What did the DCCAH spend money on?

$5,000 for Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, which plans to host a series of “multidisciplinary arts experiences which examine and celebrate THE SIMPSONS and its impact on American pop-culture psyche”—this in conjunction with Anne Washburn’s dystopian Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play. Excelllent.
$7,335 for Mayor Vince Gray’s favorite recreational activity. The National Hand Dance Association will use its grant to sponsor youth and senior workshops in wards 7 and 8.
$8,000, or $349 adjusted for 1913 dollars, to the group Dandies and Quaintrelles, for its “Seersucker Social and Moonlight Rides.” Will taxpayers be happy footing the bill for poppycock like licorice bootlaces, penny whistles, paisley bowties, and mustache wax? Balderdash!
$40,000 to renovate the lobby of the Howard Theatre, the historic Florida Ave. NW venue that is set to reopen next April.

While all of this is important, as a writer--a queer writer--I feel a bit...bamboozled(?)

Queer writers have always been marginalized. As a subculture, we have always had other means of supporting ourselves.

For example, Lambda Literary (which happens to be having a grant challenge right now and they're really really close!). While I don't think one organization can do everything--one organization can't possibly do everything, and Lambda Literary is no exception (and they've been of course been known to ruffle some feathers).

Yet Lambda Literary has done many great things:
  • The Lambda Literary Awards, since 1989 the most prestigious literary prize in the LGBT community.
  • The Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices, established in 2007, the first of its kind ever offered to LGBT writers: a one-week intensive immersion in fiction, nonfiction, genre fiction, or poetry and an unparalleled opportunity to learn from our very best writers and publishing industry professionals.
  • The Lambda Literary Review at, the web’s premier destination for LGBT book reviews, author interviews, opinion, book news and literary resources, with a new, sleeker look with enhanced navigation launching this week!
  • LGBT Authors in Schools pilot program, in collaboration with the Gay/Straight Educators Alliance, is pairing our community’s authors with English classrooms in high school and college to bring our rich literary traditions to our youth!

As a national organization, it doesn't target too many local activities (Lambda Literary helped sponsor DC's very first LGBT Book Fair this year.), but it's something (what local queer literature organizations do you know of?). Without such organizations, queer writing--again, our stories, our voice, our history, our culture--can easily be put on the backburners.

So, consider donating to Lambda Literary...and/or your local queer literary organization!

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