Vinny Eden Ortega
5 Queer Writers I’m Loving this Pride
A poet, a fiction writer, a playwright, a screenwriter, and a memoirist.
But in actuality these queer writers wear many hats. This Pride had me thinking of about the queer writers across genres that always keep me on my toes. Ones who in past year have made me laugh, cry, reevaluate, say “yahhsss”, drop my jaw, and appreciate the diversity of queer writing. Here’s five queer writers I want to share with you.
just ink-blue blankets
dusted with hours of star
In a place
where nothing stings.
Not a thing.”
- From bone
Daley-Ward was one of the first to popularize the “instagram poet” style of poetry. But oh is she so much more than that. This West Indian and West African poet writes for the heart, the soul, and the diaspora. Her intentional and enchantingly precise word choices will have you totally entranced in as little as four words. Whenever I reread her collection of poems bone I can’t help but think of Daley-Ward as a scribe of the heart. If heart beats could be translated into words then Daley-Ward is an interpreter.
Julian K. Jarboe
“I know that we can love the dangerous creature we are at night,
so how do we love the form of the powerless, naked body
it takes by day? How do we howl when the sound is lost?
The monster will take what it wants, that is what makes it
our monster, but how can we tend to the sleeping beast?”
- From Everyone on the Moon is Essential Personnel
Some of the grandest most poignant stories are told in the short form. I love when a piece can take you to unimaginable places in 15, 10, 5, or even just one page. Jarboe’s Everyone on the Moon is Essential is the queer genre bending collection of short stories dreams are made of. From often pure poetry, to Kafka adaptations, and original surreal/intergalactic/intensely human tales. Each new piece offers a glimpse into a unique world- and to me that’s exciting writing!
“Cut out my tongue
tear out my hair
cut off my limbs
but leave me my love
I would rather have lost my legs
pulled out my teeth
gouged out my eyes
than lost my love”
- from 4.48 Psychosis
Kane is one of my favorite playwrights. She achieved notoriety and attention in the 90’s for her divisive, loud, and confrontational plays. In her writing, Kane takes our deepest darkest thoughts-the ones we never say out loud; and screams them. The content of her plays confront the deeply human issues that plague our world and often express them in unnatural and unforgiving ways. In 1999 Ms. Kane committed suicide and her final play 4.48 Psychosis was performed posthumously; though it can never confirmed, many consider this final free-form play to be a suicide note of sorts.
“Or how about a little porcupine? Who removed all of his quills as to not hurt one of his non-porcupine lovers, and now he looks at his reflection and can no longer recognize himself.”
- From My Favorite Shapes on HBO
This writer is a comedian and screenplay writer, so you’ll have to watch his work. Torres is an enigma in the most queer and glorious way possible. If you’ve ever seen something slightly unsettlingly off kilter on SNL...it was probably Torres. The quote above is from his HBO comedy special My Favorite Shapes where he slowly and quietly describes random shapes and gives them backstories. I would call Torres an avante-garde comedic writer, but even that does not describe what he is. Perhaps the biggest compliment for a writer is to call their work indescribable, as only their writing can truly encapsulate what it is. So my call to action is to watch his bilingual HBO series Los Espookys so you can see what I’m talking about.
Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali
“I’m not sure when I stopped thinking about my mother...the boy she remembered died a thousand deaths and from his ashes rose up an icy queen”
- From Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir
I discovered Ali’s memoir Angry Queer Somali Boy while thrifting in the Castro district of San Francisco; and it just dawned on me how gay that is. From Somalia, to the Netherlands, and finally to Canada, this is a queer coming of age story like no other. From crafting identity between Somali and Western culture, exploring queerness, to confronting drugs and homelessness. And while your lived experience may be very different from Ali’s, his generous memoir speaks to queer people of all walks of life.
Vinny Eden Ortega is a New York City based theatre director, playwright, and artistic director originally from Clearwater, Florida. Ortega is a member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab. vinnyedenortega.com