Nurturing Creativity and Amplifying Voices with LGBTQ+ Writers’ Contests and Programs

by Adam W. Burgess
published in Community

Writing is a powerful tool that allows individuals to express their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. For LGBTQ+ writers, the act of writing can be even more transformative, as it provides a platform to share their unique perspectives, challenge societal norms, and foster understanding and acceptance. 

Today, I want to explore the invaluable benefits of writing retreats and programs specifically tailored for LGBTQ+ writers. These safe and inclusive spaces offer a nurturing environment, supportive community, and opportunities for personal and artistic growth.

Creating Safe and Inclusive Spaces

Writing retreats and programs dedicated to LGBTQ+ writers create safe and inclusive spaces where individuals can freely express themselves without fear of judgment or discrimination. These environments foster a sense of belonging and understanding, empowering writers to delve into personal narratives and explore their identities in their work. 

By eliminating the need for self-censorship, LGBTQ+ writers can fully explore their creativity and push boundaries, resulting in more authentic and impactful storytelling.

Building Supportive Communities

Retreats, communities, and guest writer programs can provide a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and build supportive communities. 

Sharing experiences, challenges, and triumphs with others who understand and empathize can be immensely empowering and inspiring. These communities offer a network of support that extends beyond the duration of the retreat or program, providing ongoing mentorship, collaboration opportunities, and lasting friendships. 

Connecting with fellow LGBTQ+ writers not only strengthens individual voices but also fosters a sense of solidarity within the wider community.

Nurturing Personal and Artistic Growth

Attending a writing program or retreat offers a nurturing environment that encourages personal and artistic growth. Through workshops, seminars, and one-on-one feedback sessions, participants can hone their writing skills, learn new techniques, and gain valuable insights from experienced mentors and facilitators. 

Additionally, the focused time and space away from daily distractions allow writers to delve deeper into their craft, exploring new genres, experimenting with different styles, and pushing their creative boundaries.

Amplifying LGBTQ+ Voices

Representation matters. Writing retreats and programs for LGBTQ+ writers play a vital role in amplifying underrepresented voices and diverse narratives. 

By providing a platform specifically designed for LGBTQ+ writers, these initiatives enable stories and perspectives that are often marginalized or overlooked to reach a wider audience. 

The power of storytelling lies not only in its ability to entertain but also to educate, challenge stereotypes, and foster empathy. By supporting and encouraging LGBTQ+ writers, we can contribute to a more inclusive literary landscape.

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Validation

LGBTQ+ writers often face unique challenges in the literary world, including heteronormative expectations, the need to educate readers on LGBTQ+ issues, and the pressure to conform to mainstream narratives. 

In an age of increasing calls for censorship and book bans, LGBTQ+ programs and communities help writers navigate challenges by offering a platform where their voices are not only accepted but celebrated. 

The validation and affirmation received within these spaces can be transformative, instilling confidence, resilience, and a sense of pride in one’s identity and work.

Programs to Consider

Retreats and programs tailored for LGBTQ+ writers provide invaluable opportunities for personal and artistic growth, fostering a sense of belonging, support, and validation. 

By creating safe and inclusive spaces, these initiatives amplify the voices of LGBTQ+ writers, empowering them to tell their stories authentically and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive literary landscape. As we continue to strive for equality and representation, it is crucial to recognize and support the unique contributions of LGBTQ+ writers. 

Here are some LGBTQ+ programs to consider and perhaps even apply for if you’re an LGBTQ+ writer in search of support and community.

Lambda Literary’s Writing Retreat

The Writer’s Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices has been in service since 2007. It is the nation’s premier LGBTQ writing residency. It is the only multi-genre writing residency devoted exclusively to emerging LGBTQ+ writers.

The Loft’s Writer’s Workshop

This program has moved online, offering much more opportunity for LGBTQ+ writers from all around the country. They provide an excellent resources section as well, so writers have options as to how involved or independent they want to be.


There are also some amazing writing contests hosted specifically for LGBTQ+ writers. 

Examples include those hosted by Dunlop (the PFD YA Queer Fiction prize and the PFD Adult Queer Fiction Prize), Saints and Sinners (short story and poetry contests), Queer Sci-Fi, Lambda Literary (Jeanne Cordova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction; J. Michael Samuel Prize for Emerging Writers Over 50; and the Judith A. Markowitz Award for Exceptional New LGBTQ Writers, just to name a few!), and the Lumiere Review Writing Contest (poetry and short stories).


Join us here at DIY MFA! While this community is open to all writers in all genres, it is an inclusive group where you will find support from ally and LGBTQ-identifying writers as well. Build your own community within the community!

Adam W. Burgess is an English Professor at College of Southern Nevada. He has a Ph.D. from Northern Illinois University and is pursuing a post-doc writing certificate at the University of California, Berkeley. He loves engaging in all topics related to LGBTQ literature and craft. You can find Adam on his website or follow him on Twitter.

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