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Luis Alfaro is an Associate Professor at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He is a Chicano writer/performer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short stories, performance and journalism. He is the first-ever resident playwright of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, courtesy of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant. Alfaro is also a producer/director who spent 10 years at the Mark Taper Forum as Associate Producer, Director of New Play Development and co-director of the Latino Theatre Initiative.
Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song) and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. Ryka was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” She worked with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.”
Ryka is a two-time Lambda Award finalist, winner of the Eli Coppola Chapbook Contest and the Corson-Bishop Poetry Prize. She has MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and is the recipient of a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. Ryka is also a former national judo champion, and the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance. She is a professor of English at Santa Monica College.
emily m. danforth
emily m. danforth’s debut YA novel, The Miseducation of Cameron Post (a coming-of-GAY-ge story partly about conversion therapy and set in rural Montana in the 1990s), won the Montana Book Award and was a finalist for the American Library Association’s William C. Morris Award and a Lambda Literary Award. It was also made into a feature film by queer filmmaker Desiree Akhavan. emily’s short fiction has won Chroma Magazine’s International Queer Fiction Award and Willow Springs Magazine’s George Garrett Award. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in various publications and has been featured on NPR’s program “All Things Considered.” emily is an Associate Professor of English-Creative Writing at Rhode Island College in Providence. Her second YA novel, Side Talks With Girls, is forthcoming from HarperCollins Publishers.
emily lives in Rhode Island with her wife Erica and their two semi-terrible dogs, Kevin and Sally O’Malley.
Born and raised in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, Chinelo Okparanta is the winner of two Lambda Literary Awards, the 2016 Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award in Fiction, the 2016 Inaugural Betty Berzon Emerging Writer Award from the Publishing Triangle, and a 2014 O. Henry Prize. Other honors include shortlisting for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award, a 2017 Amelia Bloomer Project Selection (of the American Library Association), a nomination for the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a nomination for the 2016 NAACP Image Award in Fiction, and finalist selections for the 2014 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award as well as for the Etisalat Prize for Literature. She has published work in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, the Kenyon Review, AGNI, and other venues, and was named one of Granta’s six New Voices for 2012. In 2017, Okparanta was named one of Granta‘s Best of Young American Novelists.
Benoit Denizet-Lewis is a longtime writer with The New York Times Magazine, where he is known for deeply reported cover stories and features about identity, LGBT life, youth culture, and mental health. Benoit’s narrative nonfiction has also appeared in Rolling Stone, Slate, and Out. He is the author of three nonfiction books, including “America Anonymous: Eight Addicts in Search of a Life” and the New York Times bestselling “Travels With Casey: My Journey Through Our Dog-Crazy Country.” Named one of the most fifty most influential LGBT media members by The Advocate, Benoit appears on many radio and television programs, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, and NPR’s Here & Now and On Point. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.