Today, we debut our second queer issue. We loved last year’s queer issue, the richness and depth of the writing, and there was no question we would publish another (and another and another and another).
I continue to think about this question of why. Why focus on one group of writing or writers for an entire issue? When I’m asked that question, whatÂ I really want to say is why isn’t everyone publishing queer issues?Â We will be committed to a queer issue until people stop asking the question why, until queer writers are well represented in the literary world, until, until, until.
There are a lot of ways to think about an editor’s responsibility. We have a responsibility to great writing, and to staying true to our aesthetic, but we hide behind those responsibilities, particularly when we want to avoid difficult questions about representation. There are problems in publishing. We can point to exceptions. We can point to positive signs, but fundamentally there are real issues of absence when it comes to the presence of underrepresented populations within the pages of most magazines. It’s hard to say why men submit more than women and with more persistence or why writers of color don’t submit as often or why queer writers hesitate to send their work to some magazines. It’s hard to say why editors need to be told they have a responsibility to address imbalance when it comes to race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, and all the other things that force us into categories. There are no easy answers.
But it’s too easy to simply say, “Those writers don’t submit to us.”Â Good writing is about words arranged in certain ways to achieve certain effects. The nature of good writing is certainly subjective. In addition to publishing good writing, we as editors need to think about good editingâ€”making sure we’re not publishing only one kind of writer or prioritizing only one kind of voice. Sometimes that means going out and looking for the diversity we want in our magazine and calling it by name. Maybe there’s a reason some writers hesitate to submit. Maybe we can do something about that reason. This is not to say a magazine should be everything to everyone. That’s not possible. But we can always do better when it comes to ensuring that a diverse range of voices are represented. We can make the effort to reach out. Good writingâ€”who the hell knows what that it isâ€”but surely good editing starts by showcasing the work of writers with different cultural experiences.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again. Sometimes, people need to be told they are welcome. The number of writers who have self-identified as queer and/or submitted queer work since we published our first queer issue has increased significantly. There’s a little or a lot of queer in almost every issue we publish now. That would not have happened had we not decided, last year, to run an all queer issue. There are other areas where we need to work harder and we’re trying. We know that and we’re going to keep on reaching out. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this second queer issue.
In this issue, you will find writing and art from Michael Graves, Jackie Wang, Nicholas Wong, Colin Winnette, Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Thomas Kearnes, Paulus Kapetyn, Antonia Crane, Jai Arun Ravine, David Trinidad, Kevin Simmonds, JR Ramakrishnan, Tommy Pico, Julia K. Patt, Daniela Olszewska, Megan Milks, Joshua R. Helms, j/j hastain, Casey Hannan, R. W. Gray, Nancy Flynn and Lisa McCool-Grimes, Ezra Dan Feldman, Emma Crandall, Chris Emslie, Gillian Cummings, Tamiko Beyer, and last but by no means least, AJ Atwater.
Start here, with the introduction from the amazing guest editor, Tim Jones-Yelvington. We’d love to know what you think about this issue. We’re waiting to hear from you, in all the usual places, and hopefully a few unusual ones, too.