Celebrating Pride Month
Discover resources, initiative and events that spotlight LGBTQ+ writers

Happy Pride Month! Celebrated in June in the UK, Pride is a celebration of LGBTQ+ history, present and future.

Pride Month pays tribute to the Stonewall riots in New York. On June 28 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village, which resulted in bar patrons, staff, and neighborhood residents rioting onto Christopher Street outside. The protest continued for several days, and is seen as a symbol of revolt and a turning point in LGBTQ+ activism.

Here at NCW, we are honoured to partner with wonderful LGBTQ+ organisations and writers, and we strive to uphold values of LGBTQ+ inclusion and increased visibility.

Read on for resources, initiatives, upcoming events and local organisations that might help you to celebrate Pride Month.


Resources

Safe Space podcast

We highly recommend listening to the Safe Space podcast created by local writer and musician Jess Morgan, with support from NCW, Young Norfolk Arts and Norwich Arts Centre.

A project borne from a creative writing safe space for LGBTQ+ young people, this podcast recaps those sessions, including a burst of inspiration in an ‘Audio Letter’ from someone leading in their field – someone queer, creative and inspirational.

Listen to the podcast here.

NCW LGBTQ+ reading recommendations

Are you stuck for what to read this Pride Month?

Check out our Communications Assistant Molly’s top three picks for LGBTQ+ fiction. She recommends:

  1. The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye – an absolutely essential read. Shon Faye reclaims the term ‘transgender issue’ to uncover what it’s like to be transgender in a transphobic society.
  2.  Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn – an intimate story about a woman moving from an impoverished Jamaican town to New York, hoping to rekindle an old romance, but having to leave her child behind – all wound together with Jamaican patois.
  3. The Color Purple by Alice Walker – a classic that follows the intertwined lives of Celie, her sister Nettie, and the enigmatic Shug Avery in the deep American South, between the wars. One to return to again and again.

If you’re looking for a list that contains fiction, non-fiction and poetry, browse Molly’s 2021 selection. From moving, intricate poems by Danez Smith to an intricate exploration of black trans American history by Riley Snorton, there is a breadth of writing to explore.

Find the whole list here.

Interview with Lit from the Insider Efe Imoyin-Omene

Have a read of our conversation with former Lit Insider and author Emoefeoghene (Efe) Imoyin-Omene about his experience of Pride Month and improving inclusion for queer authors of colour.

We need more books about people existing who just so happen to be queer

Efe took part in our 2021 Lit From the Inside programme for 14 – 17 year olds, that give young people the opportunity to explore their creative skills and get valuable, hands-on experience of working in the arts industry. This project was generously supported by Anguish’s Educational Foundation.

Click here to read about Efe’s writing, as well as his thoughts on how we can support more queer writers and artists this Pride Month.

ILS Showcase

The International Literature Showcase is a partnership project by National Centre for Writing and the British Council, made possible by support from Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.

Discover a line-up of compelling LGBTQ+ writers selected by one of the biggest names in crime fiction, Val McDermid, as part of the International Literature Showcase. The list included:

The ILS was a project dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring new ways of working. NCW invited literature practitioners from around the world to examine the opportunities and challenges of a post-Covid world.

Val describes her lived experience trying to find LGBTQ+ writing to resonate with, the state of modern LGBTQ+ writing and the selection she’s put together:

‘I wrote a lesbian heroine because I’d grown up in a time and place where there were no templates for the life I wanted to live. The queer struggle for self-definition has been pursued in no small part so that the next generation has a springboard for imagining how to live. Every literary movement requires pioneers to kick open the door a crack. Others spot the opening and push the door wider. Then, at last, there’s room for everyone to walk through and write the lives they want to write.

‘The ten writers featured in this showcase reveal the quality and breadth of current LGBTQ writing in Britain today. From novels to memoirs, from short stories to film scripts, from poetry to plays, their work covers a broad spectrum of form, style and content. There is, genuinely, something here for everyone.’

Explore the full line-up of LGBTQ+ writers here, and read Val’s introduction here.

Polari Prize Interviews

Are you interested in the history of the Polari Prize? Do you want to know where the Prize might go next?

Find out more about the Polari’s roots in an upstairs room in a Soho bar, and where Polari founder Paul Burston sees the future of LGBTQ+ writing going, in two exclusive NCW interviews.

There’s been a big push to tackle diversity in all its forms within publishing – Paul Burston

NCW spoke to Polari founder Paul Burston in 2019 to reflect on more than a decade of Polari. As the Polari Prize celebrated its twelfth year in 2022, we caught up with the author and journalist to discuss the ongoing development of the prize, the state of LGBTQ writers and their readers as well as Paul’s unending mission to reach diverse audiences through increasingly diverse means.

Have a read of our most recent interview here.

Initiatives

Escalator Talent Development Programme

Each year, National Centre for Writing seeks ambitious, challenging and affecting new voices in fiction writing from the East of England for the Escalator Talent Development Programme. The region is made up of a diverse society of people, and supporting writers who are under-represented on UK bookshelves has become a core objective of the project.

The programme, which has been running since 2004, includes eight months of mentoring, training, guidance and networking for participants. To date it has supported more than 130 writers, many of whom have gone on to sign with agents, publish and win awards and critical recognition for their novels and short stories.

Queer and working-class I hear ‘no’ a lot. Escalator and NCW is all about saying ‘yes’, to diversity, inclusivity, to championing every kind of writer at all stages of their career – Jon Ransom

For 2022-23 we particularly welcomed applications from writers who identify as LGBTQI+ and/or whose ethnicity is under-represented on UK bookshelves. We offered at least 50% of places to writers who identify as such.

Read about the impact of Escalator from 2019 Escalator mentee Jon Ransom. He caught up with us about his debut novel The Whale Tattoo and the effect of mentoring on his writing career in 2020, which you can read here.

Discover more about Escalator here. Escalator is generously funded by Amazon Literary Partnership, and donors of NCW’s Escalator fundraising campaign.

Michael Langan LGBTQ+ Free Reads 2023

The Literary Consultancy

One of our incredible partners Out on the Page is partnering with The Literary Consultancy and novelist and writing tutor Michael Langan to offer five UK-based LGBTQ+ writers free professional feedback on the first 15,000 words of their novels or novels-in progress.

Winners of the bursaries will also receive a follow-up Writer Development 1:1 with Out on the Page Founder and Director Paul Bradley. These one to ones have been designed to enable writers to take stock of their development, gain new insights, and build achievable plans.

This year, they will also be ensuring at least one LGBTQ+ Free Read is awarded to a Black, Asian or Global Majority writer.

Find out more here.

Upcoming events

NCW at Norwich Pride

Saturday 29 July

The 15th Norwich Pride takes place on Saturday 29 July.

We are so excited to get involved with a stall at Norwich Pride at the Forum this year! Pop down to see us and help us celebrate Pride with local organisations.

More details coming soon.

The Queerness of Nature with James McDermott

Online, 10am – 12.30pm, Saturday 30 September, £45/£35 concession

Join LGBTQ+ playwright, poet and creative writing teacher James McDermott for a half-day poetry workshop exploring the nature of queerness and the queerness of nature. Through practical exercises and informal group discussions you will:

  • Read, analyse and discuss works by queer nature poets
  • Look at nature through a queer lens and use it to generate ideas for your writing
  • Learn tools to plan, write and edit your poems
  • Share your work aloud (optional) and receive constructive feedback.

Book your place here.

Local organisations

Finally, we wanted to highlight these three organisations that support LGBTQ+ people of all ages and backgrounds in our region!

The team behind Norwich Pride is a fantastic group of volunteers who put together a Pride March and array of different inclusive events. Their website contains initiatives, resources, detailed information on support for LGBTQ+ groups locally and nationally, such as their directory of local community groups.

Queer Norfolk is a radical grassroots volunteer-led collective dedicated to archiving queer history in Norfolk. Their aim is to: ‘hand ownership of queer collections back to communities and empower people to access, discover, and contribute to collections that reflect their shared histories.’ You can follow their pop-up exhibitions and archiving efforts over on their Instagram account @queernorfolk.

Norfolk LGBT+ Group is a local charity providing support, information and guidance related to the health and welfare of LGBTQ+ people. Explore their weekly meetings for young people, as well as ‘Crafty Queers’ sessions for queer people who want to get creative, and their support groups for trans, gender questioning and non-binary people. They also organise training and offer advice for organisations and schools looking to improve their LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion.


We hope you’ve had a wonderful Pride, and continue celebrating all year round!

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