Red Hen Press Celebrates Pride Month!

Happy Pride Month! We at Red Hen Press would like to celebrate the work done by our LGBTQ+ authors and honor what makes them so integral to the literary community during this month!

As with Black History Month, and Women’s History Month, we want to particularly highlight the work done by BIPOC queer and trans people.

We will also be promoting our imprints, Quill and Arktoi, and LGBTQ+ organizations and bookstores in the Los Angeles Area. Be sure to visit our Bookshop for a list of books by our LGBTQ+ authors and the books they recommend!

Scroll down to read more!


Elizabeth Bradfield, author of INTERPRETIVE WORK, 6/22/2021

Meet Elizabeth Bradfield, one of the lesbian writers published under the imprint Arktoi! Watch this video to learn more about the founding of Arktoi, and what makes Elizabeth’s poetry unique from other poetry collections!

We had the pleasure of asking Elizabeth a few questions about her experiences as a writer, favorite LGBTQ+ organizations, and the LGBTQ+ books and authors that inspire her!

What are your pronouns?

 She/her. Sometimes captain (I’m being cheeky here, but in some ways, at some moments my gender identity is less important to me than my vocation/work identity).

What does Pride Month mean to you?  

It means a time to reach out toward younger people in less inclusive/supportive communities and try to be visible to them as someone who, as a lesbian, has found one of the infinite paths available to us. It means a time to reflect back on the elders who helped me see the way — Pat Parker, Peggy Shaw, Audre Lorde, Linda Bierds, Robin Becker, Marilyn Hacker, Adrienne Rich, Annie Sprinkle, Jeanette Winterson — both those whose work directly and daily engages queer visibility and those who move through the world in quieter channels.

Who or what inspires your work as a writer? What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry? 

Oh, all of those above inspire my work! Plus, it must be said, Eloise Klein Healy, who started Arktoi Books, who writes fierce and seeking poems, who embraces and builds community in so many ways. My writing is very much inspired by the need to show how a queer lens is beautiful, important, and interesting when looking at the non-human world as well as the human. I’d tell queer writers this: welcome! Write! Read! You have so many ancestors of so many differing voices. There are people in publishing and in the reading world who are eager for your voices — and remember to honor all of you. The ways you’re divergent from even the queer community itself as well as the ways you feel connection and communion with others.

Which LGBTQ+ literary organizations are important to you? Any indie bookstores we should highlight? 

Of course Lambda Literary. I’ve never been to the festival, but I follow their publications and love learning of new books coming into the world through their reviews and interviews. Women’s Review of Books, Sinister Wisdom, Calyx — as literary journals and publications, they were beacons to me and I love their work. My local indie bookstores are in Provincetown, both queer run: East End Books and Provincetown Bookshop. They are both so WONDERFUL. So supportive of and excited by the local writers that move through our community and eager to find and feature new work.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend? 

It’s hard to even begin listing the many, many LGBTQ+ books that have formed me and pushed my own writing thinking. To choose (to choose!) a handful, let me list these: Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson, Bestiary by Donika Kelly, everything by Carl Phillips, On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year by Lee Ann Roripaugh, Rocket Fantastic by Gabrielle Calvocoressi, everything by Brian Teare, Nightwood by Djuna Barnes. And for their subtle, sly, whisperings, Mary Oliver’s poems. I am stopping myself arbitrarily, because there are so many. I’m very excited by Anne Haven McDonnell’s new chapbook Living With Wolves and can’t wait for her first full collection. Kali Lightfoot’s debut collection, Pelted by Flowers, is one I want to really celebrate as it’s come into the world after decades of her own wild living.

How does your sexual orientation intersect with other parts of your identity?

Complicatedly. In the writing world, it’s kind of a… non-deal. But in the boat-world I also live in as a naturalist, which is still largely conservative, it’s absolutely something I’m aware and wary of. Something I observe coming into and out of focus with fellow crew-members and with the folks I’m there to teach about whales/birds/ecology. There have been moments that have felt, in that world, dangerous. And there have been surprising allies I’ve discovered through a shared love of the work we do. One aspect of my identity is as a sister and aunt — and in those ways, particularly as an auntie, I’m very glad to be a real, tangible “other” that is both normalized and notable for my nieblings.


Amber Flame, author of APOCRIFA, 6/17/2021

We’re excited to welcome Amber Flame as our next featured author for Pride Month. Amber Flame has a forthcoming poetry collection with us titled aprocrifa (to be released in 2023) and has served as our 2020 Quill Prose Judge! Check out her video for a sneak peek of apocrifa and read on to learn more about her inspirations and advice about the Quill Prose Award!

Listen to a sneak peek of apocrifa, 2023!

What are your preferred pronouns?

She/her/hers usually work, but I prefer my whole name.

What does Pride Month mean to you?

The first Pride was a riot and I keep hoping the next Pride will be too. Pride month is a reminder of what work it takes to get free and stay free. I am glad to be surrounded by elders who help me hold in memory all that has gone into my relative safety in being free to be my full self and love who I love.

Who or what inspires your work as a writer? What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry?

Afro-futuristic fiction and the exploration of liberation as theme really inspire me, as do revolutionary rest as touted by the Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey. The inquiry into what feeds joy is also a big source of inspiration. I would tell aspiring queer writers to keep writing and keep submitting their work – it’s more about discipline and perseverance than it’s ever sexy to talk about. I would also say we need your stories, your words. Read A LOT – especially the work of your elders, find places where there has been silence and shout loudly. There used to be so few queer stories available – now there are more, and with you there can be many!

Which LGBTQ+ organizations are important to you? Any indie bookstores we should highlight?

LAMBDA is doing great work, and while not specifically LGBTQ+, my work at Hedgebrook is vastly important to me. I love that more organizations are being lead by and are serving the community without being explicitly “designated”. We’re everywhere! Always wanting to shout our Elliott Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, and Open Books, A Poem Emporium in the Seattle area.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend?

I would say the four books by LGBTQ+ authors that were foundational to my education as a storyteller were The Temple of My Familiar (Alice Walker), The Well of Loneliness (Radclyffe Hall), Stone Butch Blues (Leslie Feinberg), and Bastard Out Of Carolina (Dorothy Allison).

Now I am loving Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, Danez Smith, Jacqueline Woodson (huge favorite), Dr. Seema Yasmin… I could go on, I am a reader before I am anything!

How does your sexual orientation intersect with other parts of your identity?

Can I say what a relief it is to just be queer? It has the fluidity and individual interpretation I crave when I think of my identity. More and more I think of it as not my sexual orientation so much as my cultural orientation. I am a part of queer culture, the child I raise is a part of that culture, as are my close loved ones, whether or not their sexual orientation is queer. It’s more a lens I am consistently using to look at and interact with the world.

You were a Quill Award Judge in 2020. What do you look for when evaluating writing?

I read a LOT of fiction, and I enjoy wildly diverse voices, so I want to sink into the story and enjoy the reading. If I can’t lose myself a bit in the action, my analytic brain is going to switch on and I’m going to go hunting for why- is it sentence structure, an issue with dialogue? What do I keep getting caught on as a reader that’s pulling me out of the action? Tell me a good story.

*Quill Prose Award is currently accepting submissions with this year’s judge, Kazim Ali! Deadline to submit is October 30, 2021. Click the link above to learn more!


tammy lynne stoner, author of SUGAR LAND, 6/16/2021

The delightful tammy lynne stoner celebrates Pride Month with us! Scroll below to read why tammy advises against following trends. She also has great recommendations for indie bookstores in Portland!

What are your pronouns?

she/her

What does Pride Month mean to you?

As I get older it no longer means fabulous parties. Now it is a reassurance.

Who or what inspires your work as a writer? What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry?

My work is often inspired, perhaps oddly, by trivia.
For all you aspiring queer writers, do not listen to trends. Write what feels best to you and don’t be afraid to go against the current politically correct fads. They will pass like so many black patent shoes marching into the darkness.

Which LGBTQ+ literary organizations are important to you? Any indie bookstores we should highlight? 

Well, of course, Gertrude literary journal! We are truly a labor of love that loves you back. Indie bookstores? Yes! Annie Bloom’s. Broadway Books. Greenbean books (kids). And, of course, Powells.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend? 

OK, here goes… recommendations:


Chloe Schwenke, author of SELF-ISH: A TRANSGENDER AWAKENING, 6/14/2021

Chloe Schwenke is the next featured author in our Pride Month campaign! On June 18, she will be giving a Pride month speech to Chinese activists at an event organized by the US Consulate in Guangzhou. Watch the video and read the interview below to learn more about Chloe’s journey as a transgender quaker, her favorite LGBTQ+ Books, and her international activism!

What are your pronouns?

she. her

What does Pride Month mean to you?

An opportunity to celebrate our community and our many allies, demonstrate our resilience, renew our commitment for equality, and remember the many sacrifices that have gotten us this far already.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend? 

Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, Vivek Sherya’s I’m Afraid of Men.

How does your sexual orientation and/or gender intersect with other parts of your identity?

Much of my current work has to do with research and international development work on inclusion of marginalized, vulnerable communities in developing countries, with the LGBTQI+ community being a major focus. My identity as an out transwoman, and a former political appointee (Obama administration) at USAID (still the only transgender political appointee ever to serve in the federal foreign affairs agencies) help me in my advocacy and in building and staying connected with my networks. Most recently, I led a 9 month study of inclusive development in India, virtually in charge of a 5 person team of senior Indian researchers. LGBTQI+ people were a very important constituency of that project.


Francisco Aragón, author of AFTER RUBÉN, 6/10/2021

Next up for our Pride Month campaign, we’re featuring the wonderful Francisco Aragón! Scroll below to read about why California inspires Francisco’s love for Pride, and which queer writers inspired him to keep writing!

What are your pronouns?

He/him/his

What does Pride Month mean to you?

When I hear the expression Pride, I’m reminded how thankful I am to be able to say that my hometown, the city that raised me, is San Francisco, CA.

Who or what inspires your work as a writer?

The latest books I happen to be reading: Lies With Man by Michael Nava. On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Tóibin. The Letters of Thom Gunn edited by Michael Nott, August Kleinzahler and Clive Wilmer.

What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry?

Become well acquainted with our specific tradition(s), the writers that got us here. Take your time when it comes to getting published. Be the best writer you can be by working on your craft, first; the rest will follow.

Which LGBTQ+ literary organizations are important to you?

Lambda Literary of course. And the work done by RASPA literary journal, which serves LGBTQ+ Latinx writers.

Any indie bookstores we should highlight? 

I have a soft spot for OPEN Books: A Poem Emporium in Seattle, WA.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work?

From the Other Side of Night by Francisco X. Alarcón

Poet in New York by Federico García Lorca

After Lorca by Jack Spicer

The Man with Night Sweats by Thom Gunn

What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend? 

Christopher Soto, Daisy Hernández, Grisel Y. Acosta, & Emanuel Xavier

How does your sexual orientation intersect with other parts of your identity?

I’m inspired by Rigoberto González, who embraces his intersectionality, and for whom his chicano and queer identities are both fully present and neither is diluted by the presence of the other. And so I try to keep this in mind in my projects, the most recent, for example, being my queer transcreations of Rubén Darío.


Jason Schneiderman, Author of HOLD ME TIGHT, 6/9/2021

We were fortunate to interview poet Jason Schneiderman and get his thoughts on Pride Month, writing and the intersections between sexuality and ethnicity.

What are your pronouns?

He/Him or Ze/Per

What does Pride Month mean to you?

I actually feel very tenderly toward Pride Month. It sounds silly, but I want to take care of Pride Month. I want to rub Pride Month’s belly. 

Who or what inspires your work as a writer? What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry?

I write to be understood. Poetry was the only place where I could truly calibrate my language to feel completely present and completely honest. Writing is a thinking process, which I often forget, but always come back to. I think that the challenge of being a queer writer is finding authentic language for your experience of sex, gender, and sexuality. The language and expectations around what it means to be queer have changed significantly in the last thirty years. Queer people kept saying “Hey, this language doesn’t fit me, I need better language for what I’m going through.” I would ask young queer writers to be grateful for the elders who made a space for queer writing, while knowing that the exact queer space you need won’t exist until you write into it. 

Which LGBTQ+ literary organizations are important to you? Any indie bookstores we should highlight?

THE BGSQD!!! The Bureau of General Services Queer Division (or just “The Bureau”) is New York City’s only bookstore dedicated solely to Queer Art and Literature, and it is a dream come true. Greg and Donnie have created a welcoming and inclusive space in the heart of New York City, and when the world has truly reopened, the BGSQD will be the first stop on my let’s-touch-each-other-if-we-like-to-be-touched tour. I love the BGSQD so much that I “reverse shoplift”—if one of my books isn’t on the shelf, I’ll just slide it into the poetry section when no one is looking. 

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend? 

Derek Jarman’s At Your Own Risk is a touchstone for me. Jarman is best known as a filmmaker (I especially love his Edward II), but it’s his writing that I go back to over and over again. His writing is composed in assemblages and fragments. He keeps finding new structures for prose and it’s amazing to see what has changed and what hasn’t since his lifetime. I cannot stop thinking about Detransition Baby by Torrey Peters and Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor. I want everyone to read these two novels and then call me so we can talk about those books! Also: I’m obsessed with Jake Skeets’s Eyes Bottle Dark with Mouthful of Flowers—it’s so good.  

How does your sexual orientation intersect with other parts of your identity?

I’m a gay Jew, so I grew up with the losses of AIDS and the holocaust structuring my identity. There are so many mirrors between gay identity and Jewish identity in a US context: the way these communities bridge insider and outsider status; questions of visibility and disclosure; the way that people outside the community underestimate how deep hostilities toward us run. One of the nice things about living in New York is that I’m rarely the only gay person or the only Jewish person in the room. I’m also really interested in the way that same-sex desire and Jewish identity have meant such different things depending on the time and place.


Carlos Allende, author of COFFEE, SHOPPING, MURDER, LOVE, 6/7/2021

Meet Carlos Allende, winner of the 2019 Quill Prose Award from Red Hen Press with his novel Coffee, Shopping, Murder, Love. His fantastically queer dark-comedy is scheduled for publication in Spring 2022.

We had the pleasure of asking Carlos a few questions about his experiences as a writer and his favorite LGBTQ+ organizations. His answers reflect the darkly comedic tone of his writing.

What are your pronouns?

Most people refer to me as a “he.” Occasionally friends refer to me as a “she.” One tends to use the royal we. Whatever you like is fine.

What does Pride Month mean to you? 

Well, when I think about it, I don’t have the greatest memories of Pride. I took a beard to my first Pride. And that was in Amsterdam. Who does that? Once, I attended the WeHo Pride festival wearing only an orange speedo. In all the pictures, I look grotesquely fat, and it was as if the ghost of Harvey Weinstein had whispered in the ears of every woman: spank that man! Now I’m old and happily married, and I have the fortune to live in a time and place where being gay is all right, one doesn’t need to keep bricks handy or the free condoms, so June is nice, thank you, but it’s mostly for the kids. We’ll stay home, maybe have some friends for brunch. Enjoy Pride while you’re young and single.

Who or what inspires your work as a writer?

Revenge and jealousy. I say to my students: when you write a story, you need to have something to say, something that you want to leave your readers with, and you need to wrap your story around that message. Look inside you: has anyone ever been mean to you, and you’ve held that grudge for years? Do those who care for you keep saying, just drop it, it isn’t helpful, just let it go, the resentment will kill you? Well, don’t drop it. Transform your bitterness and resentment into a beautiful, sad story. Give your enemies a slow and gruesome death. Make yourself look like a María Magdalena. You’ll have a lot of fun. Now, having been miserable once is incredibly inspiring, but being miserable while you type is not going to help you. Motivation relies on mood and mood on wellbeing. Make sure you’re well-fed and well-rested before you start typing.

What would you tell aspiring queer writers hoping to break into the industry?

Quit. Too many books, too few readers, and I was here first. Scram or I’ll cut ya! Now, if they insist—and I’m looking here at them lesbians, they’re always the most persistent—I’ll say the same thing I say to non-queer writers: educate yourself. Read beyond your genre. Read non-fiction. If you speak another language, read in that language. Live and explore. Some of us, like yours truly, have an innate facility with language, but writing is a learned skill. Storytellers are the result of experience. No little goddess will come and dictate words to your ears. You have to stick those words in first, and you don’t really store knowledge as words in your brain but as mental images. Thus, become an image collector. Visit new places and invite people to over speak. “So your mother never loved you? You got arrested for what? How sad! Could you elaborate a little?” Steal other people’s essence. That’s what a writer does, we craft something fun and beautiful from human misery.

Which LGBTQ+ literary organizations are important to you? Any indie bookstores we should highlight?

Lambda Literary, of course. When my book comes out, I want to win every last Lammy. Indie Bookstores? The Last Bookstore in downtown LA will always have a special place in my heart because that’s where I had my launch party for Love or the Witches of Windward Circle. I sold like nine books that night and spent almost $500 on the catering. I also like Skylight Books and Book Soup. They’re like an art museum: super cruisy.

What LGBTQ+ books have been a staple in your work? What contemporary/upcoming LGBTQ+ authors do you recommend?

A true staple? Cousin Pons, by Honoré de Balzac. Anything by Balzac has always been a staple. When I read Cousin Pons, I wasn’t sure if the couple at the center of the novel was gay. Now I know they were. Why else would they live in poverty but have a fortune in art pieces? I liked Less by Andrew Sean Greer, and I’m totally planning to read Speak no Evil by Uzondima
Iweala and Charles Jensen’s Nanopedia.

How does your sexual orientation intersect with other parts of your identity?


In an ideal world, my sexual orientation wouldn’t matter. Liking guys when you’re a guy would be like not liking chocolate, a little weird but, whatever, we’ll make you a vanilla cake instead, and in the shape of a penis. However, I was born in a world and time in which homosexuality was wrong. Growing up, I couldn’t flirt with a guy I found attractive, I couldn’t comment on how handsome an actor was, and I couldn’t date boys in my teens like my sisters did. It wasn’t safe. Feeling unsafe affects how you relate to others. Because you want to protect yourself, you learn to hide your emotions and to expect the worst from others. You become a little cynical, and you get a little bitter too. You feel angry, ashamed, and guilty, and all that messes you up. How couldn’t it? To belong is an essential human need, and I learned from a very young age that I didn’t belong, that my extraordinarily good taste and artsy tendencies counted for nothing. I became a nihilist. Others become suicidal or self-destructive. I just came to believe that life is meaningless and that we should reject all moral principles. It’s not like being gay made a horrible person; society did. I’m quite shallow, I have little professional ambition, and I never cultivated close friendships because I just assumed that people wouldn’t like me anyway. Eventually, I stopped liking people altogether. Now things have changed. It is okay to be gay, and it is not okay to exclude others for being gay. It isn’t perfect yet, but newer generations have it a lot easier. I had it easier than many did before. I am happily married, and people do not bat an eye when they learn I am gay anymore, but what do you do with all that undeserved guilt and all that shame you felt for years? What do you do with all that anger? It was like: sweetie, it’s not okay to be gay, please man up, so you think, alright, I’ll be a repressed bitch instead, but then, Yay! Glitter! Happiness! It’s okay to be gay, but by then, you’re a professional bitch, and despite your best efforts, you’ve turned forty. You still hate people, and sarcasm is your superpower. So, being gay made me a fantastic writer and kept me relatively fit, that’s what it did for me.