January 2021
A Safe Space for Expression
Queerstory offers writers a room of their own

Through 2020 we have all had to devise new ways to solve problems we've never faced before, and nonprofits are showing the way.

The Greater Yavapai County Coalition (GYCC) is dedicated to providing support to the LGBTQ+ community and other underserved populations in the area. Sometimes that comes in the form of fundraising, providing education, networking between the community and allies, or providing safe places for the community to just be themselves.

This past year we all had to learn to respond quickly to the situations that a global pandemic, civil unrest, drastic personal finance changes and other unexpected events brought down on individuals and communities, and GYCC learned to respond quickly in kind.When Yavapai County first began to close down businesses and schools and ask people to quarantine at home, GYCC responded by rapidly collecting and updating information on who was open and who was providing what resources for those in need.

Last spring GYCC launched a new program called Grow Our Own, a gardening project to help bring people a sense of control and security. Earlier we had seen store shelves stripped bare in an impulsive response to uncertain times amid the pandemic. Most people got to just laugh about The Great Toilet Paper Scarcity of 2020, and adjust their lifestyles a bit until supply leveled back out. But for some the impact was more severe, and they were left with no resources or plans for how they would feed their families. Grow Our Own was created to teach and support people in creating their own satellite gardens in their own backyards, reassuring them that they would have food should another crisis hit supplies.

Queerstory is GYCC’s latest project, a space to home the creative works of our community. Crisis creates unique needs for those  afflicted by it.With the focus on taking care of physical needs, one's mental and emotional needs can easily fall by the wayside. One way GYCC wants to address this is by offering our LGBTQ+ community a place to share their voices, express themselves and speak their truths to those who want to listen.

You can submit your creative writing, including short stories, poems, personal essays, scripts, and more, to the Queerstory website. LGBTQ+ writers can submit works under their own name or a pseudonym. Not everyone in this world can come out safely, and Queerstory honors those journeys in the same way it does for those that are out, proud and paving the way for those who cannot be. When submitting their bio, a writer may include information promoting their portfolio, other works, social media profiles, or remain completely anonymous.

Expression and solidarity are the two main motivating factors behind the creation of Queerstory. Having a medium to creatively process one's experiences can have a profound positive effect on a person's mental health. The marginalized are often forced to find unique ways to live their truths, and the LGBTQ+ community is no exception. There is a long history of the community learning to communicate their identities through art, fashion, speech and more, when their very existence was a threat to their livelihoods. To those in our community who still live with stifled voices, GYCC wants to extend a hand, lend and ear, and let them know we are listening.

Of course, there are many in our community who are able to come out, live freely as themselves and be safe and happy doing so. We want to hear those stories too. We want to honor every story, because they are all important parts of LGBTQ+ history and culture. We are living in  historic times. In this digital age of information, we have the privilege of documenting and sharing our history in exactly the way we wish.

The group will be collecting writings over the next couple of months. The goal is to have Volume I of Queerstory published online early this year. For now, only writing is accepted for submission, but eventually the project will open to other kinds of creative work, including visual art, performing art and more.

Visit the website: queerstory.lgbt; learn more about GYCC at az-gycc. org.

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