Reading and writing go together like peanut butter and jelly, cookies and milk, a drag queen and glitter. Twice a month, queer and queer-friendly writers get together for a writing series hosted by the Salt Lake Community College’s Community Writing Center to share their work with other members.
“We welcome everyone and every type of writing,” said Brandee Boyer, a mentor for the group. “Everything from a poem, to a paper for school or a letter to the editor. You can literally share anything you’ve written.”
The group meets the second and fourth Monday of each month, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Library to share pieces of their written works and listen to feedback. Everyone, not just students, is welcome to attend.
“We don’t attack anyone or their writing. We just listen and share our thoughts about what was written. Everything is very friendly, and sometimes it can be so helpful to just sit down and listen to yourself read and hear what everyone’s reactions are,” Boyer said.
Boyer, a straight woman, started her love of the queer community after randomly wandering into her new neighborhood bar when she moved to Seattle from her home in Salt Lake City. After she walked into the Men’s Room bear bar, she sensed something was off when she looked around and saw almost exclusively big, hairy men.
“I asked if I needed to leave and if I was welcome,” Boyer said. “They welcomed me when I needed it most and I feel like I found my family.”
The group is headed by two mentors, Boyer and Doug Woodall. The group is part of the SLCC Diverse City Writing Series that includes groups for environmental writing and other topics and styles. The attendance at the workshop varies, but it is always a welcoming environment and a terrific place to make new friends, Boyer said. There are also opportunities to be published through the group.
Other projects headed up by the Diverse City Writing Series include a Freedom Writers Campaign. Submissions on civil rights, including queer rights, are accepted for part of a citywide project celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders Campaign where people were escorted to register to vote. The winning submissions will be published on their website and linked to PBS.org, said Andrea Malouf, the director of the SLCC Community Writing Center. To submit a piece, go to SLCC.edu/cwc for more information.
“The goal is to communicate and give each other feedback on a very equal level and provide opportunities for writers that wouldn’t be available otherwise,” Malouf said.
The Writing Center is also partnering with other organizations, including the Grand Theatre to present coming out stories on National Coming Out Day, which is Oct. 11. Queer-rights activist Eric Alva will be the featured guest at the event.
“Writing is changing so much faster than anyone anticipated, I think. With blogs, Facebook posts and even tweets, there’s so many ways to express creativity and write,” Boyer said. “Most people are writing every day and don’t really even realize it.”
For more information about the group, go to tinyurl.com/utgaywriters or SLCC.edu/cwc.