The Center on Halsted hosted "Ancestors: A Queer Writers of Color Reading," a showcase of literature and poetry, on March 1.
The reading was an off-site event for the 2012 Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán and Tony Valenzuela organized it. Lambda Literary Foundationa group aiming to nurture, celebrate and preserve LGBT literature through programs honoring excellence, promoting visibility and encouraging development of emerging writersalso sponsored the event.
"I thought it was just so important for me to be here, being as it was 20 writers of color all in the same place … that just do so much worknot only writing, but within the community," said Vaimoana Litia Makakaufaki Niumeitolu, an indigenous Tongan artist, actor, playwright and educator living in New York. She debuted a poem, "Blue Eucalyptus and Lavender," for her mother, an indigenous Tongan woman who immigrated to the United States and raised her family in Utah.
Self-described same-gender-loving, multiple-gender-loving and transgender poets, writers, filmmakers and performance artists of indigenous Pacific, Native North American, Arab, Middle Eastern, Asian, Latino and African descent all participated in the reading.
Featured writers included OluSeyi OluToyin Adebanjo, Nancy Agabian, Ryka Aoki, Tamiko Beyer, Niumeitolu and Charles Rice-González, among many others.
"It was very powerful to read here tonight because there were so many diverse voices within the queer community and aesthetically, in terms of content," said Agabian, Armenia-American author of Me As Her Again. "There was just a feeling of freedom and support, challenging form, challenging ideas. It was quite meaningful to me. Queer writing spaces are a great, inspiring space."