2015 Lambda Literary Award Judges

Ibrahim Abdurrahmani is Provost and Professor of Cultural Studies and Islamic Studies at Starr King College/Graduate Theological Union.

David Caleb Acevedo has published his work in several literary magazines, including Poui and The Caribbean Writer, as well as on cyber pages such as Letras Salvajes, En la Orilla.net, Aurora Boreal, and Cinosargo, and in numerous anthologies. He is currently working on Hadouken! Antología de literatura sobre videojuegos, along with fellow writer Raymond P. Meléndez.

Indira Allegra is the winner of the Jackson Literary Award, Windgate Craft Fellowship and the Oakland Individual Artist grant; she has been interviewed by BBC Radio 4, make/shift magazine, and artactivistnia.com. Indira has been involved in guest residencies at the University of Oregon, East Carolina University, and The Banff Centre.

Michael Amico is pursuing a PhD in American Studies at Yale University. His dissertation is about the love between two men in the Civil War. He is author, with Michael Bronski and Ann Pellegrini, of Lammy-nominated You Can Tell Just by Looking: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People (Beacon).

R. Anderson is a queer Southern writer, bookseller, and editor from Atlanta, GA. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow and Executive Director of Charis Circle, the non-profit programming arm of Charis Books and More, the nation’s oldest and largest feminist bookstore.

Alysia Angel is a southern-bred Lakota and working-class queer high femme. She is a Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow whose work has appeared in numerous publications including Say Please, Leather Ever After, and Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion.

Miguel Ángel Ángeles is a queer Xican@ migrant from a small town in rural California. He has been transplanted in New York since 2005. The youngest child of his family, he has been fascinated by the word from a young age. He currently works teaching English to adult immigrants and has led English/Spanish bilingual writing workshop for the New York Writers’ Coalition. His short stories have been published in The Best of Panic Anthology and in From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction. His poetry has been published in Nahualliandoing Dos/An Anthology of Poetry in Nahuatl, Español, and English. He has shared his fiction at Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) workshops facilitated by Elmaz Abinader and Junot Díaz, as well as a Cave Canem poetry workshop facilitated by Eduardo Corral.

Tara Avery is an Amazon trans woman business owner, bisexual activist, and self-taught, self-published cartoonist.

Gabrielle Bellot, who also writes under J. Bellot, holds an MFA from Florida State University, where she is currently pursuing her PhD in fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Humanism, Small Axe, Transnational Literature, BIM: Arts for the 21st Century, Belletrist Coterie, and as blogs for The Missouri Review and Prairie Schooner. She was born in 1987 in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has lived since the age of nine in the Commonwealth of Dominica, where she has worked as a member of a committee for the Nature Island Literary Festival. She is working on her first novel.

Bear Bergman is an award-winning writer, educator and storyteller, author of six books as well as the founder of Flamingo Rampant, a children’s press focused on feminist, LGBTQ-positive, racially diverse children’s books. His most recent book for grownups (Blood, Marriage, Wine, & Glitter) made several Best Of lists and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Learn more about Bear and his projects at sbearbergman.com and flamingorampant.com.

Talia Bettcher, PhD, is a Professor of Philosophy at California State University, LA. Some of her articles include “Evil Deceivers and Make-Believers: On Transphobic Violence and the Politics of Illusion” and “Trapped in the Wrong Theory: Rethinking Trans Oppression and Resistance.”

Dennis Bolin is an avid reader and collector of gay mysteries and lives in Dallas. His essay on the enduring legacy of bestsellers with gay themes from the mid-twentieth century appears in The Golden Age of Gay Fiction.

Marie Britt is an engineer who works on energy management and sustainability. She also has a background in forestry and loves the outdoors. As an avid reader and lover of mysteries, she always has a book with her wherever she goes. Marie lives with her partner and two mischievous dogs in Takoma Park, MD.

Michael Bronski is Professor of Practice in Media and Activism in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality at Harvard University. His works include A Queer History of the United States and (with Kay Whitlock) the just published Considering Hate: Violence, Justice, and Goodness in American Culture and Politics.

Laurinda D. Brown-Johnson is the author of seven novels, including the Lammy winner Walk Like a Man and Lammy finalist Fire & Brimstone. She is a featured writer in the anthologies Longing, Lust, and Love: Black Lesbian Stories and Purple Panties.

Barbara Browning is the author of the Lammy-winning novel The Correspondence Artist and I’m Trying to Reach You, which was a finalist for The Believer Book Award. She teaches in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU and is also a dancer, videographer, and amateur ukuleleist. barbarabrowning.info

Victoria Brownworth is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated and SPJ and NLGJA award-winning journalist. She is the author and editor of more than 30 books, including Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life, Restricted Access, and the Lammy winning Coming Out of Cancer. In 2012 she won the Moonbeam Award for her book From Where They Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth. In  May 2015 she won the IPPY Award for her novel Ordinary Mayhem.

Nat Burns is an award-winning novelist who retired from a publishing career in Virginia and relocated to Albuquerque, NM. She has eight novels with Bella Books and is a journalist and freelance writer. Nat is also an editor with Lesbian News with a monthly column called “Notes from Nat”. www.natburns.com

Diana Cage teaches writing at Pratt Institute and is the author of Girl Meets Girl: A Dating Survival Guide, Bottoms Up: Writing About Sex, The On Our Backs Guide to Lesbian Sex, Mind-Blowing Sex: A Woman’s Guide and the current Lammy Finalist, Lesbian Sex Bible.

Stacie Cassarino is the author of Zero at the Bone, winner of a 2009 Lammy and the Audre Lorde Award. Stacie earned a BA from Middlebury College in Vermont, an MA from the University of Washington and a PhD from UCLA. Her poems have appeared in The New Republic, Iowa Review, AGNI, Georgia Review, Indiana Review, and other journals.

Traci Castleberry also writes as Evey Brett and has had numerous queer books and stories published with Lethe Press, Cleis Press, Loose Id, Ellora’s Cave, and elsewhere. She’s a graduate of the Clarion workshop for SF/F, a 2010 Lambda Fellow and has a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction.

As President of BiNet USA, Faith Cheltenham works to advocate for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, and queer communities. Faith currently writes on bisexual community issues, bisexual people of color community concerns and other topics for South Florida Gay News, Huffington Post, and BiNet USA’s blog.

Justin Chin is the award-winning author of 98 Wounds, Bite Hard, Attack of the Man-Eating Lotus Blossoms, Harmless Medicine, Gutted, Burden of Ashes, and Mongrel. A five-time Lammy finalist, he won the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Poetry.

Jeanne Córdova is a pioneering activist and a founder of the West Coast LGBTQ movement. Her latest work, When We Were Outlaws: a Memoir of Love & Revolution, won a Lammy and the Publishing Triangle’s Judy Grahn Award for Non-Fiction.

Eduardo C. Corral is the author of Slow Lightning, which won the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. He’s the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University.

Jameson Currier is the author of ten works of fiction, including Lambda finalists Where the Rainbow Ends and A Gathering Storm. In 2010 he founded Chelsea Station Editions, an independent press devoted to gay literature, and he is the editor of Chelsea Station Magazine, now online at chelseastationmagazine.com.

Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse is a writer in the crime, horror, murder and science fiction genres.

Twig Deluje’ is a trans-identified fiction writer with a blue-collar, Midwestern/Ozarkian upbringing. His stories revolve around the topics of class, gender, and queer survival while broadening the dialogue around the rural queer experience. He currently resides in Santa Fe, NM.

Viet Dinh was born in Dalat, Vietnam, and teaches at the University of Delaware. He has received a Fiction Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and his work appears in the 2009 PEN/O, Henry Prize Stories, and numerous literary journals.

Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla is a syndicated journalist and filmmaker. His debut novel, Ode to Lata, was the first South Asian gay novel to be reviewed by the LA Times and his most recent work, The Two Krishnas, was a 24th Annual Lammy finalist.

Morty Diamond is a transsexual therapist, artist, writer, and filmmaker with a Master of Social Work from San Francisco State University. He has published two books: Trans/Love: Sex, Dating and Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary and From the Inside Out: FTM and Beyond. He is currently working on the first mobile phone app for transgender mental health called “Trans for Change.”

Desiree Diaz is a graduate of Hunter College, majoring in English Literature. As an Editorial Intern, she has several reviews posted for Lambda Literary, usually focusing on lesbian and bisexual romance. In 2013, she traveled to Japan to participate in an assistant language program, teaching English to junior high students for a year.

Nisa Donnelly is a two-time Lammy winner. She lives and writes in far northern California.

Larry Duplechan is the author of five novels, including Blackbird (1986) and the Lambda Literary Award-winning Got ‘Til It’s Gone (2008). He has not met Mo’Nique.

Dylan Edwards is the author of Transposes, a biography of queer-identified transmasculine people, and Politically InQueerect: Old Ghosts and Other Stories. His comics have also appeared in the anthologies Beyond, QU33R, and No Straight Lines. His current project is Valley of the Silk Sky, a queer YA science fiction webcomic. http://valleyofthesilksky.tumblr.com/

Toby Emert is an associate professor and chair of the Department of Education at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, GA, and chair of the LGBT Issues in Academic Studies Advisory Committee for the National Council of Teachers of English. His scholarship focuses on multicultural education, especially queer issues. He has published interviews with numerous Lammy winners, including Alex Sanchez, Ellen Wittlinger, Julia Watts, and Bill Konigsberg. He also maintains the blog Queer Young Adult Literature, a compendium of contemporary YA writing that features queer and questioning characters.

Julie R. Enszer, PhD, is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland and is writing a history of lesbian-feminist presses from 1969 until 2000. She is the author of Handmade Love (A Midsummer Night’s Press) and Sisterhood (Sibling Rivalry Press) and editor of the Lammy finalist Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (A Midsummer Night’s Press). She was recently honored by Women’s eNews as one of 21 Leaders for the 20th

Andres Fragoso, Jr., has traveled to many destinations between two countries (USA and Mexico), learning different cultures along the way. His experience has helped him write about life in general, life when you are between two cultures, and life as a gay man in more than one culture.

Francisco J. Galarte is an assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, where he teaches courses in Chicana/Latina Studies and Transgender Studies.

Jewelle Gomez is the author of the double Lambda Award-winning lesbian vampire novel, The Gilda Stories, soon to appear in a special 25th anniversary edition. Her play about James Baldwin, Waiting for Giovanni, was called “riveting,” and her new play about singer Alberta Hunter, Leaving the Blues, premieres in 2016.

Rigoberto González is the author 17 books and the recipient of numerous awards including Guggenheim, NEA, and USA Rolón fellowships, and a Lambda Literary Award. He is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark and the recipient of the 2015 Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle.

Ily Goyanes is a journalist, author, and editor, who writes about food, news, and culture for magazines and newspapers from coast to coast. Her anthology, Girls Who Score, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist and won a Golden Crown Literary Society Award. Email her at: ily.goyanes@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter: @realily.

Charles Green is a writer and editor based in Annapolis, MD. His reviews appear in Publishers Weekly, The Gay & Lesbian Review, and Blueink Reviews. He also writes for the Annapolis Film Festival

Michael Hames-García is Professor of Ethnic Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Women in Society at the University of Oregon. He has authored or edited five books to date, including the Lammy-winning Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader. He teaches classes and publishes on an array of topics including the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality and the politics of incarceration in the United States.

James Earl Hardy is the author of the bestselling Lambda-nominated B-Boy Blues Praised as the first gay hip hop love story, it is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The award-winning stage adaptation is currently on a national tour. His recent collection, Can You Feel What I’m Saying?, is a 2013 Rainbow Book Finalist.

Reginald Harris is the winner of the 2012 Cave Canem/Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize for Autogeography and Poetry in The Branches Coordinator and Information Technology Director for Poets House. A Pushcart Prize nominee and finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, his work has appeared in a variety of publications.

Trebor Healey was awarded a Lambda Literary Award in 2013 and has received two Ferro-Grumley awards and a Violet Quill award. He is the author of A Horse Named Sorrow, Faun, Through It Came Bright Colors, Sweet Son of Pan, and A Perfect Scar & Other Stories. treborhealey.com.

Terry E. Hill is a native of California and now lives in Oakland with his partner and two dogs, B-bop and Picasso. His books have been featured in numerous national publications. Before becoming a writer, Terry worked in Social Services as an Executive Director of non-profit agencies serving the homeless and battered women.

Tina Horn produces and hosts the sexuality podcast Why Are People Into That?!. She is the author of Love Not Given Lightly. Her writing also appears in Vice, Girl Sex 101, and Best Sex Writing 2015. She is a Lambda Literary Fellow and the recipient of two Feminist Porn Awards.

Militza Jean-Felix is a Haitian-American artist and writer from Boston. She has shown her work in the United States, France, and the Caribbean. Her last exhibition was at the 2nd Ghetto Biennale: A Salon des Refuses in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Afterward, she received her M.F.A. from the California College of the Arts in Creative Writing and attended the Sewanee Writers Conference and the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Emerging Writers Retreat.

Alex Jeffers’ eighth and most recent book is the novel That Door Is a Mischief. He lives in Oregon.

Ronald Jin is a retired librarian and bookseller in San Francisco. As a bookstore event host, he introduced more than 300 authors and developed a skill for reading quickly and closely and finding a brief, meaningful connection between writers and readers.

Michael Kahn is the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC. From 1992–2006, he was the Richard Rodgers Director of the Drama Division of the Juilliard School, where he has been a leading member of the faculty since its founding.

Mitch Kellaway is a queer, biracial, transgender reporter, Pushcart Prize-nominated writer, and the co-editor of Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves, an anthology of personal narratives by trans men. He currently covers transgender news for the Advocate.com. His writing has also appeared in the Lambda Literary Review, Everyday Feminism, Huffington Post, Mic, Out, Original Plumbing, and numerous LGBT anthologies.

Bryn Kelly is a writer/performer who has shared her written work at NYC-based performance series TRIPS, Low Standards, and Queer Memoir; as a columnist at Showtime Network’s OurChart.com; in Original Plumbing magazine; as a regular contributor to the digital literary magazine PrettyQueer.com; and in the anthology, Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love and Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary, edited by Morty Diamond.

Lori L. Lake is a writer, teacher, speaker, and author of mystery, drama, romance, and general fiction, including The Gun Series police quadrology, The Public Eye mystery series, four standalone drama/romances, two short story collections, the Lambda Literary finalist anthology The Milk of Human Kindness, and the WWII novel Snow Moon Rising, which won the 2007 Ann Bannon Popular Choice Award, a Golden Crown Literary Award, and The Alice B Readers Award.

Mercedes Lewis loves simple things, including reading, traveling, and spending time with those she loves. She writes short stories and poetry, and serves as Director of Events for the Golden Crown Literary Society.

James Magruder is the author of Sugarless, Let Me See It, and the upcoming Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall. He also wrote the book for the Broadway musical Triumph Of Love. He lives in Baltimore, MD.

Raul Gutierrez Mangubat is the manager and co-owner of GET BOOKED, Las Vegas’ LGBT retail store. He has worked as an office manager at the LGBT Center in Concord, CA, and was a former English teacher in various Catholic and business schools in New York City and in the Philippines.

Thomas March is a poet and critic who teaches at The Brearley School. He has received the Norma Millay Ellis Fellowship in Poetry from The Millay Colony for the Arts and an Artist Grant from The Vermont Studio Center.”

Dawn Lundy Martin is author of A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering; Discipline (Nightboat Books), a finalist for the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Candy. She is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Jon Michaelsen is an author of numerous short stories and novellas and a Lammy mystery finalist for Pretty Boy Dead. He is currently hard at work on the next Kendall Parker mystery. He lives in Atlanta with his partner of 30 years and four monstrous terriers.

Megan Milks is the author of Kill Marguerite and Other Stories (Emergency, 2014) and co-editor of Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives (Routledge, 2014). Megan lives in Madison, WI, and teaches literature and creative writing at Beloit College.

Jesse Monteagudo is an award-winning freelance writer and journalist and has been an active member of South Florida’s LGBT community for more than 40 years.

Moonyean is a life-long lover of books. A California native, she is happy to be living there again after a 16-year break in Arizona where she earned an English degree and owned a feminist bookstore. She lives in northern California with Lakke, her spouse, and Kona, a yellow lab. She has previously published in Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco City Hall and Visible: A Femmethology.

Deb Morris is a former bookseller who began her career at Lammas Women’s Bookstore and later as a buyer at Politics and Prose (both in Washington, DC). She also worked at the Pacifica Radio Network and the documentary series, Soundprint.

Lucy Mukerjee-Brown is an established British Producer and an advocate of female directors and LGBTQ film. In 2015, Lucy joined Outfest as their Director of Programming, where she curates various year-round programs including Outfest Los Angeles, Outfest Fusion, and NewFest. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America and BAFTA, and a two-time fellow of Film Independent.

Nik Nicholson is a writer, painter and actor. Her novel, Descendants of Hagar, won the Lambda Literary LGBT Debut Fiction Award. It is the first of a two-part series, which also includes Daughter of Zion, about a woman coming to terms with her masculinity in the early 1900’s. Facebook: Nik Nicholson; Twitter: @ArtistNik; Blog: Even Deities Evolve.

Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins and Days of Awe, as well as three other books of fiction and the poetry chapbook, “This is What Happened in Our Other Life.” She is a founding member of the Creative Writing faculty at the University of Chicago, a member of the Editorial Board of In These Times and the editorial advisory board of the Great Books Foundation, and a blogger for WBEZ.org.

Felice Picano is considered a founder of modern gay literature. A four-time Lammy finalist and winner of the Ferro-Grumley and Syndicated Fiction/PEN Awards, his most recent work includes True Stories, Contemporary Gay Romances, Twelve O’clock Tales, and 20th Century Un-limited.

David Pratt is the author of two novels, Looking After Joey (Wilde City Press) and Bob the Book (Chelsea Station Editions), the latter of which won the 2011 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Debut Fiction. He has also published short stories in Christopher Street, The James White Review, and many of other periodicals. Some of these stories are collected in My Movie (Chelsea Station).

Jim Provenzano is the author of the 2012 Lambda Literary Award winner Every Time I Think of You; its sequel Message of Love (a 2015 Lammy finalist); the novels PINS, Monkey Suits, and Cyclizen; the stage adaptation of PINS, as well as numerous short stories. A journalist in LGBT media for more than two decades, he lives in San Francisco.

John Prusak is an award-winning psychologist and LGBT book enthusiast. He works with GLBT teenagers and has provided counseling services at LGBT alternative schools, offered professional consultation to educators working with LGBT teenagers, and written an LGBT curriculum manual.

Christina Quintana is a New York-based writer and theater artist with Cuban and Louisiana roots. Her plays have been produced in New York, Atlanta, and New Orleans. A 2014 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Voices Fellow in Fiction, she holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. For more, visit cquintana.com.

Oscar Raymundo has written about technology, sex, and culture for magazines such as Vice, Wired, and Rolling Stone. He is currently working on Confessions of a Boy Toy, a novel about a gay cyborg’s sexual awakening in the year 2049 A.D.

Juana María Rodríguez is a Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. She is the author of Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings (2014) and Queer Latinidad: Identity Practices, Discursive Spaces (2003).

Sarah Schulman is a novelist, nonfiction writer, playwright and screenwriter. Her tenth novel, The Cosmopolitans, will be forthcoming with The Feminist Press in March 2016.

Julia Serano is an Oakland-based author and performer best known for her books Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity and Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive. Information about her various creative endeavors can be found at juliaserano.com.

M. Soehnlein is the author of the novels Robin and Ruby (2010), You Can Say You Knew Me When (2005), and The World of Normal Boys (2000), which received a Lambda Literary Award. He teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the University of San Francisco.

Matt Stefanik is a Librarian at Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon. His focus, while at work, is helping folks find their next book and training staff. While away from the reference desk, he enjoys biking, paper collage, and learning guitar.

Griselda Suarez is a Lambda Literary Fellow and author of Concrete River Boulevard, a poetry collection nominated for the California Book Prize. Her work has been published by Aunt Lute Press, Seal Press, Acentos Literary Review, and Sinister Wisdom.

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of two novels and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies. Most recently she’s the author of a memoir, The End of San Francisco winner of a 2014 Lammy. She recently finished a third novel, Sketchtasy. (mattildabernsteinsycamore.com).

Mike Szymanski has one of the longest-running columns about bisexuality around, writing about the issues since the 1990s. He and co-author Nicole Kristal won the first Bisexual Lambda Literary Award for The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe. He is the National Bisexuality Examiner and writes for Bisexual.org and BiMagazine.org.

Justin Torres is the author the best-selling novel We the Animals. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, and other publications. A former fellow of the Lambda’s Emerging Writers Retreat, he will return to the retreat this year to teach the fiction workshop.

Lourdes Torres is a Vincent de Paul Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University. She is the editor of the journal, Latino Studies, author of Puerto Rican Discourse, and co-editor of Tortilleras: Hispanic and Latina Lesbian Expression and Third-World Women and the Politics of Feminism.

Charlie Vázquez is the author of three books and the director of the Bronx Writers Center. He co-edited the breakthrough anthology From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction with Charles Rice-González in 2011.

Linda Villarosa runs the journalism program at The City College of New York. She is the author of a number of books including the Lammy finalist, Passing for Black. This summer she will run the nonfiction workshop at the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBT voices.

Yolanda Wallace has written nine novels, including the Lambda Award winner Month of Sundays and Lambda finalist Date with Destiny, written as Mason Dixon. She and her partner live in coastal Georgia. Yolanda can be reached at yolandawrites@gmail.com.

Shannon Watters is a senior editor at BOOM! Studios, and the head of its KaBOOM! and BOOM! Box publishing imprints. She is also the co-creator and writer of the comic book series LUMBERJANES, and the founder of zine publisher Oh Gosh Press. She lives in Los Angeles with her lovely Canadian partner.

Julia Watts is the author of the Lambda Literary Award-winning Finding H.F. as well as the Lammy finalists The Kind of Girl I Am and Secret City. Her newest novel is Gifted and Talented.

Rebekah Weatherspoon is the author of the Vampire Sorority Sisters series from Bold Strokes Books. She has a degree in European Literature from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and lives and works in southern California.

Karen Williams is an internationally acclaimed standup comic, humor educator, and motivational speaker and founder and CEO of HaHA Institute and owner of “The Healing Place,” Karen graduated summa cum laude from Cleveland State University with a personally designed major in Humor and Healing. She earned a Master of Education from CSU’s Adult Learning & Development program. Karen taught Stand-Up Comedy in the Dramatic Arts Department of Cleveland State University.

Ronaldo V. Wilson, PhD, is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh, 2008), winner of the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, and Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem Books, 2009), winner of the Thom Gunn Award and the Asian American Literary Award in Poetry in 2010. Co-founder of the Black Took Collective, Ronaldo is also an Assistant Professor of Poetry, Fiction, and Literature in the Literature Department of the University of California, Santa Cruz. His latest work is Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press).

An Equality Forum LGBT History Month icon and former homeless youth, Emanuel Xavier is author of four poetry collections, Nefarious, Americano: Growing up Gay and Latino in the USA, Pier Queen, and If Jesus Were Gay & Other Poems, and the novel, Christ Like, a Lambda Literary award finalist. He has been featured on Russell Simmons presents Def Poetry, in The New York Times, and on CNN and has performed in cities throughout the United States, Buenos Aires, Ghent, London, and Paris. In 2014, he was invited to speak at The United Nations as part of The International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy in the USA. In 2015, he taped as a featured speaker for TEDx Bushwick and was filmed for a documentary on poets from around the world.

Rose Yndigoyen writes short fiction and novels in New York City. Rose’s work has been featured in Glitterwolf Magazine and the anthology Southern Gothic: New Tales of the South (New Lit Salon Press). Rose was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow in YA/Genre Fiction. She thinks about feminism, queerness, and culture on twitter @theladyist.