August 2, 2012 | by Joey DiGuglielmo
Writing and ruminating

Outwrite LGBT Book Fair
Friday and Saturday
Various times
D.C. Center
1318 U St., N.W.
Readings and discussions are scheduled throughout the event
Visit thedccenter.org/outwritedc for times

Lesbian writer and performance artist Kimberly Dark is one of the performers at this weekend’s OutWrite LGBT Book Fair. (Photo by Roni Galgano; courtesy Dark)

Even in a culture-rich town like Washington, there are always a few pockets of time — usually in the dead of winter after the holidays or right about now when the novelty of summer has worn off but nobody’s ready for fall yet either — when there’s almost nothing going on.

Organizers at the D.C. Center think the “dog days” are a perfect time for the OutWrite Book Fair, which is back this weekend for a second installment. Organizers guess between 200-300 attended last year’s maiden event and say it’s important, even with book sales having migrated mostly online, for queer authors and readers to have a place to gather.

“Literature is one of the many ways in which we express ourselves and find echoes of our own lives,” says Lin Wang, a Center intern who helped organize the event. “Hosting an LGBT book fair is one way to affirm queer identities and give them an empowering environment where they can keep creating and celebrating their art.”

Several readings, performances, discussions and spoken word events are planned throughout today and Saturday. Many new and used LGBT-themed books will be available.

Among the highlights:

• Gay author and former stripper Rick McGranahan will read from his memoir “The Ghost of Puppyboy,” which tells of his years in the ‘90s working at the former D.C. gay strip club WET, where he found what he calls “microcelebrity” status, good money but also drugs and alcohol. His reading will be Saturday at 11 a.m.

“I kept journals during all of my dancing years,” he says. “The relationships, people, places and endless nights. I would revisit the journals and read them over and over and end up with insomniac attacks from the memories.”

• Lesbian poet and mother Brittany Fonte of Annapolis, Md., will read from her book “Buddha in My Belly,” a prose poetry collection, Saturday at 5 p.m. She says having two kids, now 2 and 6, made novel writing too time consuming. She found the shorter windows of time she had available more conducive to writing poetry. Her book just came out two weeks ago.

“I think when I was a kid, I didn’t see any gay or lesbian authors,” she says. “We heard about Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes in school but we didn’t know anything about them being gay. … Teens coming out now have so much more experience with being able to find role models and people to talk to … there’s less suppression and bullying.”

• Gay poet and novelist Rashid Darden, a life-long Washingtonian, will be part of a poetry reading with several other poets dubbed “head/heart/soul” Saturday at 6:30 p.m.

He says with Lambda Rising no longer in business in D.C. and precious few mainstream bookstores remaining anywhere, it’s important for writers to have a place to gather.

“There’s a chance to do some of that at Pride events, but that’s not the kind of thing where you can have much of a niche market either,” he says. “I think it’s really important for the Center to provide an alternative to the existing constructs, as a sort of replacement for the bookstores that no longer exist.”

• Saturday night at 8:15, performance artist Kimberly Dark will close the festival. The San Diego-and-Hawaii-based lesbian has been performing for LGBT audiences in arenas of all sorts since the mid-‘90s. She says issues of sexual orientation and gender, which largely inform her work, provide almost endless fodder for observation and discussion.

“Everyone’s lives matter and even today, we still have a really narrow image of who’s who in the world,” she says. “It’s very hard for many people to see their own lives reflected on stage or TV.”

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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