This LGBTQ Literary Festival Offers Panels, Workshops, and Readings
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This LGBTQ Literary Festival Offers Panels, Workshops, and Readings

Naked Heart is happening this weekend at several venues in the Village.

Glad Day Books is one of the venues for this weekend's Naked Heart festival. Photo courtesy of Glad Day.

Glad Day Bookshop is one of the venues for this weekend’s Naked Heart festival. Photo courtesy of Glad Day.

Naked Heart: The LGBTQ Festival of Words is coming up on the weekend of November 11 to 13. Located in the Church-Wellesley Village, the festival includes workshops, panels, performances, and discussions for writers and lovers of words. The festival features queer and trans writers from all over North America, including Raymond Luczak, a famous gay, Deaf writer and editor.

Luczak, who lives in Minneapolis, is the author and editor of 18 books. His Deaf LGBT books include Eyes of Desire: A Deaf GLBT Reader, Men With Their Hands: A Novel, and Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life.

At Naked Heart, Luczak will be a panellist for “Deaf Writers on Access and Audience and Achievement” and perform a reading of poetry devices on November 13.

I first learned about Raymond Luczak during my first year studying at Gallaudet University. At the time, I had recently came out as a member of the queer community. During the spring semester, a new set of classes on various topics was introduced and one of them was Deaf LGBT Studies. The book required for the course was Eyes of Desire 2: A Deaf GLBT Reader. For a young, queer, Deaf adult, this book was a lifesaver. It was evidence that queer, Deaf writers existed and that they could be successful—there was hope for me as a writer!

I spoke to Luczak in the lead-up to the Naked Heart festival.

What struggles have you faced as a Deaf writer?

While I do share the same struggles that hearing writers have in trying to get published, I don’t think it’s been that much of a struggle as a Deaf writer in that arena. However, in some literary circles, it does help to network with other writers, editors, and publishers. This is where I’m at a huge disadvantage. While I can certainly speak and lip-read, my nasal voice and communication needs do seem to make a few hearing powers-that-be pause. Do they really want to hang out with me and make accommodations for me, such as being in a quieter space, standing in better light, and so on? I love meeting people, big-time, but it’s harder when certain powers-that-be have decided not to interact with you when they see you’re Deaf. Do I get mad about that? No. I just continue to keep writing and becoming the best writer I can be. Hopefully they’ll have to stop ignoring me and start seeing me as their equal. Of course, I’m not counting on anything. Audism (and ableism) is deeply embedded in our culture.

What are you hoping to gain from the Naked Heart festival?

I’m hoping to make new friends, reconnect with old friends, discover new writers, and create new memories. (I should mention that as the editor of Callisto: A Queer Fiction Journal, I’m always on the lookout for new writers who might be interested in submitting their work to Callisto.)

What are you hoping to bring to the festival?

I’d like to help bring a greater awareness (and appreciation) of Deaf culture onstage, whether through my ASL translations of poetry or participating on a panel discussion as a Deaf gay person.

Any other information you’d like to share?

Just like how many hearing LGBT people resent having inaccurate generalizations made about them, so do Deaf people about themselves. If you’re hearing, don’t let the fact that you don’t know ASL stop you. Many of us Deaf people have adapted to interacting with hearing people, so it’s your turn to adapt to interacting with us. Who knows, you might make even more new friends!

Read my full interview with Luczak here.

On November 14, a meet-and-greet event will be held at Second Cup in the Village to welcome Luczak to Toronto. It’s hosted by Ontario Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf and Deaf Spectrum, and runs from 7 to 10 p.m.. Unfortunately, ASL interpretation will not be available. For more information, visit the event page.

Photo courtesy of Naked Heart.

Photo courtesy of Naked Heart.

This is the first time that Naked Heart will include a panel focusing on queer and trans Deaf writers, including Carlisle Robinson, Maverick Smith, and myself.

Carlisle Robinson is a Deaf genderqueer Canadian and American comic creator and illustrator. They are passionate about educating the public with rarely told stories by the minority groups, especially Deaf people. They went to Gallaudet University for undergrad. They graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies in 2015 with a master of fine arts. They currently reside in Toronto with their cats.

Maverick Smith has always been interested in social justice and equity. A Deaf, queer, trans, non-binary settler, they engage with social justice and equity themes both directly and indirectly in their work. Maverick currently resides on the unceded territories of the Mississaugas of the New Credit and is a master of education candidate at the University of Toronto.

As for me, I’m a Deaf, queer, non-binary educator, artist, and writer. I’ve previously worked as a news writer for H3 Media Alliance. Some of my written work can be found in Pink Ink, Our Mad Selves, and Deaf Queers zines. I’m also the founder of Deaf Spectrum.

The Deaf writers will be participating in a panel called “Deaf Writers on Access and Audience and Achievement” at noon on November 12 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre with voiced and signed ASL-English interpretation.

The full ASL interpreted schedule can be viewed here.