I am working on an anthology of poetry by immigrant [or first generation] people who identify as LGBT/queer. I want the poetry in this anthology to focus on the experience of an individual living between two worlds, the world they/their family/community comes from [sometimes even lives in] and the world their sexual identity brings [or doesn't] bring them into. I am looking for submissions or publishing leads.
This is the long story or the short one:
I have been interested for some time in the lives of those who negotiate who they are and when; walking a line between community and acceptance. I grew up in an immigrant Russian household [immigrant myself] within a Russian community. This experience shaped me into a creature of balancing acts and secret poetry. I would sneak out to queer open mics and come home to a place where my parents would talk about how strange and disgusting Americans are, fucking everyone and shaming the world. I realized that I was one of those "Americans" and in order to live safely within the Russian community, I would have to disguise myself at all times. Outside the Russian community I was just another queer white girl who wouldn't come out. Didn't I know about PFLAG? Everybody's community/family eventually "gets over it,' right? Well, if you recognize the lack of english speakers in immigrant communities or the lack of LGBT outreach and ACCEPTANCE education in places like "little Russia" then you understand where the road ahead seemed blurry. In a culture of Will&Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and every other show that allows you to think coming out leads to acceptance, there is very little in the way of safety nets for those who do choose to risk the truth.
When I first came out to myself, I found most of my sollace in poetry, in the words of Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, and later Michelle Tea, Thea Hillman, and Staceyann Chin. Even so, it was only Staceyann's work that really talked to me about the negotiation of identity. When I was kicked out of my home and crying because I had ruined the dream of two people that left everything they knew in order to give me a better life (while they confined themselves to a language they didnt understand and a medicare system that left them near death), there was no poetry I knew to go to. Poetry had always been my answer, my bible, and when I needed it most --it held nothing for me. Later, sitting between two friends talking about our lives as queer children of immigrants [ one Bengali and the other Dominican], I realized our sharing gave me a hope and I craved a way to carry it with me, to give it to others.
I need to create this book in order to know there is a place where the voices of immigrant queer/ LGBT people are collected. Our stories are intense, beautiful, and empowering. I need this book because I need it, because I know there are people out there who need it.
If you can contribute, please contact me letting me telling me you're interested asap.
Contribute before April 15th