So many lesbians, so many books and nowadays quite a few lesfic events to attend. So how do you decide which ones? Especially when some upstart little town on the west coast of Florida jumps into the mix with an event that can blow your socks off—because after all, who needs socks in Florida in winter?2018 saw the inaugural Gulfport ReadOut go from a hazy idea in my brain to a rip-roaring success attended by top authors and crowds of readers.
“It was great to hang out with so many accomplished authors and passionate readers!” said our keynote speaker, the always hilarious and thought-provoking, Elizabeth Sims.“Every portion was vibrant, fun, well-attended…it was a wonderfully special positive event,” said Stefani Deoul who, come to think of it is also hilarious and thought-provoking.“I loved the friendliness, the informality, and the genuine interest of the attendees.The events were well attended, which is a huge plus for visiting authors,” said RJ Samuel. Have I already used the term thought-provoking?
ReadOut 2019 will be Feb 15-17 andwill feature awe-inspiring Lesléa Newman as our keynote speaker and workshop presenter. It’s going to be amazing, and we’ve added some extra events, like Afternoon Tea with your favorite authors of romance and a ReadOut session focused on books for kids,in addition to the regular ReadOut sessions for lesbian fiction and non-fiction.
Part of what makes this event so popular is that it’s completely free, both to authors and readers (apart from one workshop for which there will be a small fee.)The reason there’s no charge is that it’s sponsored by Gulfport Public Library, a small but mighty institution. Several years ago, one woman on the Friends of the Library committee, Phyllis Plotnick, had the idea to develop an LGBTQ Resource Center as part of the library. Her vision to make Gulfport library more inclusive was directly responsible for the fact that in 2018 Gulfport Public Librarywas awardedthe American Library Association’s Newlen-Symons Award for Excellence in Serving the GLBT Community, an award that usually goes to a major city or university.
Gulfport is an example of what can happen when idealists and politically active lesbians and members of the LGBTQ community come together pro-actively. What was once a small, republican, community is now a bastion of progressivity, proudly flying the Pride flag throughout the month of June and filled with lesbians who want to meet authors and read your books. So here’s how you can get involved:
If you’re an author:We just put out the Call for Submissions for authors who’d like to read at the event. You can find it here along with the Author Submission form. If you don’t want to read out loud, you can still come as a participant or vendor—registration forms will be available in November.
If you’re a reader: You can start planning your trip. Florida in February is the perfect respite from snow and ice, and while we know Florida has a certain reputation, rest assured that’s the east coast (which some refer to as New York with Palm Trees.) Gulfport is quirky, quaint and beautiful, (and so are its women.)
Alison R. Solomon is chair of the ReadOut Committee. You might know her better as the author of Goldie finalist, Along Came the Rain. Hermost recent release, Timing Is Everything just happens to be set in Gulfport.You can find her in the following places:
Amazon page: amazon.com/author/alisonrsolomon