A Room of Your Own–Queer Youth Writing Workshop Project
Posts On Writing
Room of Your Own Project
Virginia Woolf stated that women should have a figurative “room of their own,” a space to write and empower themselves within the dominant patriarchal culture. Similarly, the purpose of The Room of Your Own workshop is to mentor LGBTQ+ youth to build figurative “rooms of their own” through fiction and other writing, and present varied, distinctive, realistic, and powerful representations in the dominant heterosexual/cisgender culture. The project’s method, Dharma/Queer, combines three disciplines: Critical Thinking, Creative Writing, and Semiotics. These disciplines are combined with a secular version of the philosophy of Rasa (emotional transcendence through art), and an adaptation of the idea of Verdadism, art as social connectivity/giving voice to marginalized persons. The (volunteer) workshops are planned to be weekly or biweekly, and would be ongoing, comparable to a college course and graduate course. Shorter summary versions can be presented for individual events and workshops. Interested LGBTQ+ youth organizations can contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org.
I developed this project through my own experience of self-actualization by writing my books and characters, and through the transformative process of writing, I was able to move forward with my public persona as a bisexual genderqueer person. I have experience in working with LGBTQ+ youth as a volunteer. My experience also includes over ten years experience as college faculty, teaching philosophy, law, religion and critical thinking, and as an attorney practicing various forms of civil rights law. In addition, I have been a freelance writer, researcher, and journalist, worked in communications, and I have three books independently published. I have a long history working with nonprofit organizations. My paying forward to the LGBTQ+community is to work with young persons and help them get to a sense of self-actualization, through mentorship and encouragement. You can read more about my background here.
The overarching philosophy of this project is the transformative and transcendent nature of writing. Just as ‘trans’ as in transgender should be a powerful word of strength, so too is the act of writing a key for internal transformation–giving opportunity to explore one’s self and others. The project also promotes intersectional and intrasectional support and advocacy. Writing can be advocacy and safe space for youth identities. A secondary purpose is the idea of getting strong ideas, and more LGBTQ+ presence out in the world, helps change the mainstream. An effective way to combat lack of representation, or misrepresentation, is to create a presence. The presence is created through writing. The students not only empower themselves, but also contribute to building a continuing (to borrow a term from former NYC Mayor David Dinkins) “gorgeous mosaic” of Queer/Allied voices and stories.
This skill-building writing workshop focuses on intensive writing instruction and mentoring, creating diverse and realistic LGBTQ+ characters, and developing strong stories, through the Dharma/Queer method.
The workshop is not just lecture; it has interactive exercises and a strong focus on listening to participants: What have been their experiences?
The workshop explores questions such as:
How have we been portrayed in art with identity, issues, misconceptions, stereotypes, and realities?
How do we want to be portrayed?
Do we have a responsibility for our representation?
The workshop features discussion the importance of how to honestly and powerfully represent ourselves and our community in fiction.
Copyright 2015, 2016 Alex Fiano
Page updated 3/7/2016