One of the region’s most celebrated literary festivals and LGBTQ events is back this weekend in Gulfport. The 6th-annual ReadOUT Literary Festival takes place February 17-19 at the Gulfport Public Library as more than 80 authors and a global audience will convene digitally and in person for the massive festival.
The theme this year is Literary Queeries – A pitch letter for valuing LGBTQ+ literature, one presentation at a time. This year’s festival will celebrate published and emerging authors from across LGBTQ+ and allied communities with panels, individual readings and workshops.
The festival is part of the incredible collection of the LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Library, the only collection of its kind in a public library in Florida, offering more than 10,000 books, CDs and other media, as well as events such as ReadOUT. This year’s rendition has a packed lineup of events, headlined by keynote speaker Brian Broome on Sunday afternoon.
More celebrated guests include Lesbian icons Radclyffe and Ann McMan, who will kick off the festival at 5 pm on Friday, as well as St. Pete’s Poet Laureate Gloria Munoz, Kitchen Table Arts founder Sheree Greer, and 75+ other talented writers of LGBTQ romance, memoir, nonfiction, history, mystery, poetry and more.
More details and the full schedule of events can be found here, and guests have the option of joining any event for free via Zoom, though advance registration is required to stream the festival. For those attending, the lineup of authors is truly an impressive one.
Broome’s memoir, Punch Me Up to the Gods, launched him into literary fame when it was purchased by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt while he was still a student at University of Pittsburgh. His essays about growing up poor, dark-skinned and gay in rural Ohio have been recognized with multiple awards: Kirkus Prize winner for nonfiction (2021), Lambda Literary Awards for Nonfiction and for Gay Memoir (2022), Publishing Triangle Nonfiction Award (2022), New York Times Notable Book (2021), New York Times Editor’s Pick (2021), Stonewall Honor Book (2022) and named a Best Book of the Year (2021) by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, Amazon and Apple Books.
In his keynote address, Broome will explore the pressures and vulnerabilities confronting queer black boys, how feeling like a perpetual outsider led to escalating drug use and indiscriminate sex and how he used those experiences to create the person he has become. Broome’s essays in Punch Me Up to the Gods are framed around Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem “We Real Cool, “an 8-line, 24-word elegy for “cool” black youth.
Radclyffe is a retired surgeon whose 50+ novels have earned more than 25 awards from Lambda Literary, Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) and other writers’ associations. She is president of Bold Strokes Books, one of the world’s largest LGBTQI publishing companies, winning multiple Indie Publishers (IPPY) Awards. Radclyffe is also a member of the Saints and Sinners Hall of Fame.
Ann McMan is the multiple Lambda Literary and Golden Crown Literary Society award-winning author of twelve novels and two short story collections. She is a four-time IPPY (Independent Publisher) medalist and a laureate of the Alice B. Foundation for her outstanding body of work. Ann is also a graphic designer who earned the inaugural Tee Corinne Excellence in Cover Design Award from the GCLS, alongside many other national and international design awards.