On November 9th, an impressive panel of authors and activists discussed Latino LGBT Literature at San Diego’s brand new Central Library at Joan Irwin Jacobs Common. Poet and novelist Emanuel Xavier and playwright and novelist Charles Rice-Gonzalez, both in from New York City, read excerpts from their books and joined the panel discussion with Tony Valenzuela, Executive Director of Lambda Literary Foundation (LLF), and Caleb Rainey founder and executive director of the San Diego Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation (SDMLGBTLF). Everyone was excited to christen such a wonderful venue, and the authors were appreciative of the institutional recognition.

Rice-González read from his first novel, Chulito, published in 2011 by Magnus Books, the first novel detailing a Gay Puerto Rican experience in New York City. Xavier read his poetry, especially citing his cat, which he calls “my pussy.”  His novel, Christ Like, published in 1999 by Painted Leaf Press, received numerous awards and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

Both authors felt very honored to be published by small presses, but they recognized the differences between what those presses can offer in terms of marketing and promotion. Since small presses don’t have the resources to produce audiobooks, it’s a great argument to urge readers to attend events like these. Hearing these authors read made their works at once vibrant and intimate.

The event marked the first collaboration between the 25-year old LLF and SDMLGBTLF celebrating its one-year anniversary, and it is exciting to have this new group focusing on LGBT authors of color. “LGBT writers of color face additional challenges in the publishing world, such as feeling pressure to write either to a gay audience or a people of color audience, or needing to break through barriers that publishers sometimes place on LGBT writers of color when they say things like ‘we already have a gay Latino writer’.” Valenzuela said. “There’s great value and meaning for works published by LGBT writers of color especially for LGBT readers of color who don’t as often see their stories, our stories, in print. Through our programs honoring excellence and encouraging development of emerging writers, LLF celebrates all the diversity of LGBT literature.”

“For some time, we have noticed that large portions of LGBT literature are no longer being printed, a huge amount of our book stores and presses have closed, and our new LGBT authors are not getting the support they needed,” Rainey said. His new organization is focused on changing that, and this is a critical component of Lambda Literary Foundation’s mission as well.


  • Michael Craft

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