We’d never done a Queer Issue before. I wanted to do one. I knew other editors wanted to do one. Why now?
Many reasons. One: I am leaving. After eight years of editing Creative Non Fiction at The Citron Review, which founded by Citron Alum Aaron Gansky, I’ve decided that my other work is taking up my time. But before I left I wanted to do something that challenged the limitations of literary journals and publications at large: I wanted to prioritize queer authors the way that PANK did in 2013 and 2014 and expand our editorial scope by bringing in queer editors to help us do that.
I wanted to hear queer voices echo louder than any other voices as I stepped down.
And Since The Citron Review was born out of Antioch University whose mission statement is Social Justice, it made perfect sense to me—perfect sense to all of us.
How do we name and embrace our marginalized identities, our unique sexualities and our labels? We draw upon our lived experiences to build a collective analysis of systemic injustice, organize together for change and rebel against systems in place. “Queer” implies boundedness and fluidity. It implies other, it implies together.
It implies us and we.
To borrow from writer, teacher, performer, activist Steve Yelvington-Jones:
“Queer” emerges as an anti-identity identity. An identity or identities that embraces (embrace) its (their) own instability. An identity that (at its best) acknowledges the upside downers of “identity politics”—to name our experiences, to name oppression, to use those experiences as the basis for articulating a vision for bold queer social change—while also challenging essentialism, challenging rigid identities, and perhaps even more profoundly, challenging the very system through which our identities have been named as “other.’
Queer redirects scrutiny onto those systems of classification. Queer picks at “normal’ like a scab, then eats it. Queer negates labels or else queer embraces many labels. Queer asks what the fuck is a label anyway?”
My favorite authors of CNF make me pay attention to my denial and my longings. They capture a movie of my fears, losses, joys and awe in a way that I can taste and touch.
They cause me to pause and reorganize my thinking—touch every single limitation and vanish it. I had been following Shannon Barber’s Tumblr page and blog for years and I noticed how passionate she was about peeling away the skin of limitations and her willingness to write about sticky things like sadness, rejection and sex and so I asked her to edit this Queer Issue for us. I’ve also long admired Milcah Orbacedo’s work in the literary, gender non-conforming and sex work community. Their prose reveals a unique evolved openness and bravery that contains a type of tenderness I find irresistible. And so I asked Milcah Orbacedo and Shannon Barber if they would step in and edit with me for CNF for my last issue – The Queer Issue.
Milcah and Shannon – along with Jenny Factor, guest editor for poetry, and Seth Fischer, guest fiction editor – have included some notes on their top choices. In our first ever Queer Issue, we have brought you selections from all our guest editors as diverse as a mix of disco, funk and house; a dark, gritty playful beat in form, concept and logic. They chose pieces that welcome mixed messages and blurry Sapphic salaciousness— essays, stories, and poems whose wicked words would not loosen their grip on our hearts.
We hope you are forever changed as a result of reading these pieces, and can hear their echoes too.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
||Notes on The Queer Issue||Fiction, CNF, Poetry
||You Ride the Bus||Fiction
||Make Sure to See the Exit Door||Fiction|
|Deanna Ogle||The Transit||Fiction|
||My Breath Catches in My Skull||CNF|
|Miah Jeffra||Leaving a Mark||CNF
|Gwen Beatty||I Think||CNF
|Ayla-Monic McKay||The Things You’ve Learned||Poetry|
|Mariano Zaro||The Traveler||Poetry|
||It Gets Better||Poetry|