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Queer Creative Writing Space enables LGBTQ+ writers to express themselves freely

The LGBTQ Campus Resource Center is pictured. The center has hosted a creative writing space since November 2022. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Logan Shobe

Jan. 27, 2024 7:35 p.m.

For over a year, the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center has been hosting a creative writing space. This quarter, it has shifted from focusing on specific writing topics to teaching creative writing more broadly.

The Queer Creative Writing Space has been running biweekly since Nov. 9, 2022, at the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center with the aim of guiding attendees in the study of abstract writing techniques and encouraging cooperative timed writes. Past spaces have included events dedicated to fantasy, science fiction, poetry, prose, screenwriting, and playwriting.

Tyler Neufeld, a third-year theater student and programming assistant intern for the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center, said that as the original designer and organizer of the space, his intent in creating the creative writing space was inspired by his own experiences seeking inclusion in the past.

Before taking on his role at the center, Neufeld said coming there had allowed him to feel welcomed and safe to be himself.

Neufeld said he wants the Queer Creative Writing Space to provide a similar function, allowing young queer writers to have somewhere they can go to feel comfortable enough to talk openly about their experiences.

“There’s been a lot of censorship over what people can or cannot write, can or cannot publish, especially in terms of queer identities recently,” he said.

One attendee, second-year African American studies student Chiara Mask, said it is important for LGBTQ+ writers to be given a space where they can collaborate freely, without risk of censorship.

“Queer voices, queer literature, queer shows, queer characters – they should be shown and represented, because queer people exist,” Mask said.

Aerin Geary, a frequent attendee of the space and second-year public health student, said the Queer Creative Writing Space enables them to further pursue their passions in creative writing. They added that the space allows them to focus and get something down on the page, even when they are feeling discouraged.

Neufeld said the group is intended to strengthen preexisting connections and embolden community support, with Geary adding that the Queer Creative Writing Space was effective in bringing queer people together through its explorations of creative writing.

“Sometimes I get stuck in a rut. It’s hard to just sit down and write sometimes, even though I really enjoy it,” Geary added. “Attending the Queer Creative Writing Spaces gives me prompts to start writing in a supportive environment.”

These prompts, prepared in advance by Neufeld, pose ideas such as, “Make up a brand new protagonist who sees the world through abstract art & through vibrant colors.”

Rather than face writer’s block, Geary said, the attendees of the space are able to come together and motivate one another to produce something new in a collaborative way.

“As queer people, we go through a lot of unique stresses, and having a way to vent those stresses in a positive and productive way can be really helpful,” Geary said.

Regarding the difficulties faced by students trying to get into creative writing, Neufeld said simply starting to write is one of the most daunting aspects of the creative process. Sometimes, a blank page can be intimidating just to begin with, he said.

“Having prompts and having people all alongside you working on the same thing creates a generative hive mind,” Neufeld said. “There’s a lot of getting to meet new sorts of people, getting to hear new sorts of writing.”

Minnie Esquivel Gopar, the administrative coordinator at the LGBTQ Campus Resource Center, said they believe the space is important in supporting the creative whims of the community the center serves.

“I hope that it just gives folks the space they need to build community, to gain confidence in their voice and their narrative,” she said.

Esquivel Gopar added that the context and environment in which queer writers express their passions are also important in making them feel safe and supported.

The structure of general education classes can sometimes restrict the ways in which students are able to express themselves, given the writing goals they are regularly expected to meet, Esquivel Gopar said.

They added that a class’s facilitator or professor, who may not have proper knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community, could also serve to limit what certain students feel comfortable expressing.

Esquivel Gopar said the support the Queer Creative Writing Space provides is especially important to how LGBTQ+ media is perceived going forward.

“People should be able to tell their stories,” she said. “People should be able to uplift what they want to uplift and be seen the way they want to be seen.”

Esquivel Gopar added that given past censorship, there is an extra degree of importance placed today on allowing LGBTQ+ writers to offer their stories openly and avoid the risk of false interpretation or stereotyping.

“Y’all are the change-makers, the future writers,” they said. “You should be well-equipped to take that on by having these experiences.”

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