Taking the Temp of Queer Publishing


Paige Schilt (Moderator), Trystan Cotton, Ire’ne Lara Silva, Lilia Rosas, Kristen Hogan
Saturday (2/18), 11:00am, OUThouse (3702 Robinson Ave.)

In the twentieth century, outsider presses were a crucial and vibrant component of feminist, lesbian, and gay liberation movements. Organizations like Shameless Hussy Press, Firebrand Books, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, Cleis Press and Pagan Press (to name just a few) published books that were too niche, too radical, too sexual—in other words, too queer—for mainstream presses. Their books helped readers find community, name their experiences, hone their identities, and discover tools for individual and collective survival.

With the ascendance of Amazon and chain bookstores, and the dwindling of gay and feminist bookstores, small queer presses lost a distribution network that helped queer books find the readers who needed them. At roughly the same time, the internet opened new avenues of distribution, while e-books and print-on-demand technologies made it possible to publish books with lower overhead and less financial risk. While many queer presses have closed their doors, new ventures have blossomed—including Transgress Press and Topside Press, which focus on books by trans writers for trans communities.

This panel asks after the health of queer publishing. Where and how is it thriving? Where and how is it languishing or disappearing? What does it need? Where is it going?

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