In this post, Erika Franz interviews Dave Ring, the community chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival in Washington, DC. He was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2018 resident at both Futurescapes and Disquiet. Hard at work on a novel, he has also placed stories with publications like GlitterShip, A Punk Rock Future and The Disconnect. He is the editor of Broken Metropolis: Queer Tales of a City That Never Was from Mason Jar Press. More info at www.dave-ring.com. Follow him on Twitter at @slickhop.
OutWrite DC is based out of the The DC Center. Can you explain the relationship between the two?
OutWrite is a program of Center Arts, which is the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s umbrella program for arts-based initiatives. Like other Center Arts programs, OutWrite is supported by Kimberley Bush, the DC Center’s Director of Arts and Cultural Programs. Aside from Kimberley, we’re staffed entirely by volunteers, including myself.
Can you explain a little about the genesis of OutWrite DC? What is the umbrella mission under which you are operating?
That was before my time. The festival was started as a program of the DC Center in a joint effort between David Mariner, the Center’s Executive Director, and poet Dan Vera. The umbrella mission is “The DC Center for the LGBT Community educates, empowers, celebrates, and connects the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.” OutWrite does that by celebrating LGBTQ literature.
That actually touches on my follow up question: Who is the target audience? How far does the region extend?
There’s been a recent discussion on social media about queer communities connecting outside of bars. And while I think there’s value both historical and individual in “gay bar culture,” it’s been pretty great to curate this other space.
OutWrite’s target audience, like many LGBTQ organizations that exist in person and online, is both hyper-local—DC—as well as global—the internet. And by DC, in practice we mean the DMV.
There isn’t an LGBTQ literary festival in every town, so we also have folks attending from all over. It’s common for us to have folks coming to us from the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, or even California.
Can you explain the programming and what’s on offer from OutWrite? I am especially interested in the festival in August.
The Festival is our biggest event during the year. It will kick off on Friday, August 2, with an event—the details of which are still to be announced. Saturday, August 3, is the busiest day of the festival. It’s a full day of readings, panels and bookselling. Saturday will see about 650+ attendees, if we go by last year. Sunday, August 4, is quieter and more focused. We have six workshops for writers, two at 10am, two at 12pm, and two at 2pm. Those typically have 5-15 attendees each.
This year all events are free and open to the public.