We’re shaking it up again this year with a roster of spectacular programming that’ll go deep into our hearts and souls and entertain the hell out of you, headed up by these truly talented individuals.
Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018, Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Harper’s Bazaar, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and New York Times bestselling Hunger: A Memoir of My Body. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and the editor of Best American Short Stories 2018. She is currently at work on film and television projects, a book of writing advice, an essay collection about television and culture, and a YA novel entitled The Year I Learned Everything. In 2018, she won a Guggenheim fellowship.
Be Steadwell is a singer songwriter from Washington DC. Be believes that all people deserve cheesy pop songs-so she writes supergay music and calls it queerpop. In her live performances, she utilizes looping, vocal layering and beat boxing to compose her songs on stage.
In 2017, Be sang in The Women's March behind Maxwell and Janelle Monae. The Astraea Global Arts Fund awarded Be a grant to produce her new album, Queer Love Songs. In September, Be had the opportunity to open for Big Freedia at DC's Honeygroove Festival. The DC Commission in the Arts awarded Be with the 2018 Artist Fellowship. Be is currently touring her music and screening her film Vow of Silence internationally.
Nia & Ness are a black, lesbian, dancer-poet performance art duo based in Brooklyn, NY. The duo met and became a couple in 2013, and founded their company in 2016. They have performed at multiple venues nationwide, sharing their work that aims at a deeper understanding of their co-reality through intense investigation of their individual identities. They premiered their first evening length work, run., in August 2017, and have been touring run. nationwide ever since. They have been keynote speakers at the 2018 FLAME Conference at Brown University, and have performed their work at schools such as the University of California Riverside, NYU, Sarah Lawrence College, Temple University, Bard College, Harvard College and more. The duo has worked with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project Summer Institute; and been featured in a 2017 BRIC TV segment, a documentary for The Advocate, and have been featured in Windy City Times, Dance Writer Australia, BRN GRL WIN, the Daily Voice, Autostraddle and on Radio Free Brooklyn. They've also performed at Brooklyn Pride 2017 and Harlem Pride 2018; the 2018 Ohio Lesbian Festival, The Michigan Framily Reunion, SisterSpace Festival; were recipients of the BAX Summer 2017 Space Grant; inaugural recipients of the 2018 Virginia Giordano Memorial Fund and were the winners of the 2017 National Women's Music Festival Emerging Artist Contest and performers in 2018. This year Nia & Ness premiered their second evening length show titled home. and are currently on tour with this work! To follow them on their journey, check them out on social media @niaandness.
Kei Williams is a queer transmasculine identified designer, writer and public speaker. A founding member of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Kei’s work aims to transform global culture from the individual into a systemic analysis of structural racism. Kei’s work includes working as the Strategic Network Mobilizer for Movement NetLab, the lead organizer on campaigns such as Safety Beyond Policing, Swipe It Forward and Trans Liberation Tuesday; and the culture producer and designer for the Black Gotham Experience, an immersive visual storytelling project celebrating the impact of the African Diaspora on New York City. Kei uses their platform to bring in the voices of those most marginalized by society — those who are queer, gnc and transgender, and those living with mental illness. Recently, Kei returned for year two of the Organizers-in-Residency program at Civic Hall.
Nikki Smith is a photographer, writer, designer, and illustrator working in the outdoor industry. Nikki’s photos have been on magazine and catalog covers; she has authored five guidebooks to climbing areas in Utah and regularly writes for outdoor publications. Not only is she a talented artist but Nikki also heavily participates in the outdoor sports she covers. She is currently an athlete representing many brands including REI and travels extensively in the US and beyond for climbing and photography. Since coming out as transgender in the summer of 2018, Nikki has been very vocal about trans and LGBTQIA+ issues in the outdoors and beyond.
Instagram: @pullphoto and @nikkik_smith
Brittani Nichols is a writer, comedian, and actor living in Los Angeles. Words With Girls, a comedy pilot (based on the webseries of the same name) which she created and starred, was produced as part of Issa Rae's Color Creative TV and premiered at HBO/BET's Urbanworld Film Festival. She co-hosts Brand New Podcast with fellow witch and comedian, Ariana Lenarsky. Suicide Kale, the feature she produced, wrote, and starred is currently available SVOD after winning numerous awards including the Audience Award at Outfest and Newfest. Brittani has appeared on Transparent and Take My Wife and her writing credits include Strangers, Take My Wife, MTV's VMA's and the celebrity rap battle show, Drop the Mic. Brittani is currently writing for the recently announced A Black Lady Sketch Show for HBO.
"Check out my swag yo, I walk like a ballplayer/ No matter where you go, you are what you are player" -- Jay Z
Debbie Millman is an author, illustrator, educator, curator, and founding host of the award-winning podcast Design Matters, one of the world’s first and longest running podcasts. She is the author of six books, including two collections of interviews: How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Debbie’s illustrations have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Print Magazine, and Fast Company. She is the author of two books of illustrated essays: Look Both Ways and Self-Portrait As Your Traitor; the latter of which has been awarded a Gold Mobius, a Print Typography Award, and a medal from the Art Directors Club. She has been critic-in-residence at Cranbrook University, Old Dominion University and Notre Dame University, and has conducted visual storytelling workshops all over the world.
Gaby Dunn is a New York Times Best Selling author, podcaster, writer, actress, and LGBTQ activist living in Los Angeles. Her book Bad With Money came out Jan 1. Please get it.
"I'm on six beta blockers and a large iced coffee. I have no idea what I'm here for." - Freckle