From left, Natasha Dennerstein, Gar McVey-Russell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jan Steckel and Miah Jeffra appear in Perfectly Queer’s fifth anniversary reading on Jan. 20. (Courtesy photo)

From left, Natasha Dennerstein, Gar McVey-Russell, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Jan Steckel and Miah Jeffra appear in Perfectly Queer’s fifth anniversary reading on Jan. 20. (Courtesy photo)

Perfectly Queer reading series celebrates fifth anniversary

Online event features five writers, games, prizes

San Francisco’s Perfectly Queer reading series at Dog Eared Books Castro is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week with a virtual party and return appearances by five favorite LGBTQ+ authors.

Rick May, who created the series with his life partner Wayne Goodman “to connect queer authors with bookstores and provide a venue for queer authors to read queer-content in public,” is pleased with its success.

“I think it’s important to read about ourselves and I think it’s important that people at least have the opportunity to read about us. I’m glad to see that some books are passing the ‘lavender barrier’ and that other people besides other queer people are reading them,” says May, 74, who grew up reading literature with straight couples. It wasn’t until the 1970s that gay and lesbian literature gained traction through writers such as Audre Lorde and George Whitmore.

Perfectly Queer’s online event at 7 p.m. Wednesday features poet Natasha Dennerstein, who appeared at the series’ first session in 2016, reading from a collection of “poetry paintings.” The program also includes novelist Gar McVey-Russell, who first read in 2017, along with novelist Lucy Jane Bledsoe (2018), poet Jan Steckel (2019) and Miah Jeffra (2020), who writes fiction and non-fiction.

The celebration also includes games and door prizes from Castro businesses.

Perfectly Queer’s first physical home was at Books Inc. on Market Street in the Castro. After the store closed, it moved to Dog Eared Books Castro. At one time, the series also hosted readings at bookstores in the East Bay.

Participants through the years have included Michael Nava, Michael Alenyikov and Genanne Walsh; poets Trace Peterson, Justin Chin and Arisa White; short story authors Anne Raeff and Lori Ostlund; essayists Wilfredo Pascual and Aaron Shurin; and children’s authors Gayle Pitman and Marcus Ewert.

May stresses that Perfectly Queer offers an open invitation to all readers and literature lovers; you don’t have to be LGBTQ+ to attend the monthly event.

Interestingly, May says, even though recent sessions are on Zoom, a sense of community has continued to characterize the readings through this unprecedented pandemic.

May also invites queer authors who have published a book with queer content within the last year to contact perfectlyqueersf@gmail.com about a possible appearance in the series.

To attend the reading, request a Zoom link from perfectlyqueersf@gmail.com or RSVP on Facebook at https://bit.ly/3mZZkJE.

Literature

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