Just last month, the North Carolina Legislature gathered for a special session, an event that hadn’t occurred in 35 years, to respond to the city of Charlotte’s passage of a measure protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. After 12 hours of debate, they passed an anti-discrimination bill essentially designed to prevent local governments from passing measures specifically protecting gay and transgender people, which North Carolina’s governor quickly signed into law.
Also in March, the Georgia legislature passed a ‘religious liberty’ bill that grants faith-based groups the right to deny services to LGBTQ people based on religious beliefs about marriage. Mercifully, Georgia’s governor vetoed the bill.
Meanwhile, Caitlyn Jenner, the most famous transgender woman alive, clings stridently to her male privilege by supporting politicians with anti-LGBTQ political agendas.
Time for some spring cleaning.
Now is the perfect time for an LGBTQ issue from Beltway Poetry Quarterly. We received a great number of compelling submissions and regret we couldn’t accept them all. Given the numerous strides in civil and social justice our communities fought for and earned over time and specifically over the last few years, such as the right to legally marry, complacency can become so easy. Continuing to stand up and agitate for our basic human dignity in the world can be taken for granted. The injustices and cruelties so many of us continue to endure becomes more difficult to recognize and thus, more difficult to forcefully and fearlessly fight against. The writers featured in this issue haven’t forgotten that. When you read their work, you will be exposed to a wide array of voices and experiences that are still managing to stake their claims to humanity and dignity.
Many thanks to Dan Vera for permission to reprint watercolors in this issue.
Venus Thrash is a co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. She is the author of the poetry collection, The Fateful Apple (Hawkins Publishing, 2014), nominated for the 2015 Pen America Open Book Award. Her poetry has been published in Public Pool, Torch, The Arkansas Review, and in the anthology Resisting Arrest: Poems That Stretch the Sky. Thrash is the recipient of a 2016 writer’s residency at The Vermont Studio Center. She’s a co-director of the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series, a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a Summer Seminar in Kenya and Fire and Ink scholar. She is a full-time writer and mom. To read more by this author: "Ritual," The Wartime Issue, Spring 2006; Five Poems, Summer 2007; Four Poems, It's Your Mug Anniversary Issue, Spring 2009.