Personal essays give queer writers the radical opportunity to reclaim their stories. They’re a chance to assert, in their own words, who they are, what they value, and how they see the world.
Yet, in many workshops populated by predominantly cis, heterosexual folk, queer storytellers have additional burdens placed on them that can make writing anything at all seem impossible. Often they must ask themselves: Do my classmates know what I mean when I use a certain word or phrase? Do I need to translate, and why should I if the people I want to read this will know exactly what I’m talking about? Does my writing confirm stereotypes or subvert them, and is that my responsibility?
In this class, queer and trans students of any level will be provided a safe space to consider those questions without being bogged down by them. Instead, the focus will be on reading stories by queer and trans writers who have or are currently navigating the literary landscape, dissecting them for elements of craft, and writing your own original personal essays that we will workshop as a class. Here you will have a chance to explore your authentic voice in an environment of like-minded individuals.
At the end of our six weeks, you will have an expanded knowledge of craft tools you can apply to your work, such as structure, imagery, voice, and reflection; several model texts to guide your future writing from writers such as John Paul Brammer, Janet Mock, and T Kira Madden, and proof that you are not alone.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- Write one original personal essay and receive detailed, actionable feedback from instructor and classmates
- Participate in a classroom full of like-minded individuals
- Leave with a fuller understanding of audience expectations and who you write for
- Expand your knowledge of craft elements such as structure, imagery, voice, and reflection
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students should expect to read two to three short personal essays for the first two weeks and come to class with thoughtful comments and questions. Once workshopping begins, we will be reading two personal essays by your classmates a week, for which you will be expected to write at least one page of double-spaced feedback.
Weeks 1 and 2: We will be reading and analyzing personal essays by published writers; discussing elements of craft such as voice, tone, reflection, and structure; as well as completing in-class writing exercises.
Weeks 3 through 6: We will be workshopping student’s stories, continuing our discussions on craft, and speaking about the wider literary landscape, including audience expectations and publishing.
Edgar Gomez is a Florida-born writer with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. A graduate of University of California, Riverside’s MFA program, he has written for POPSUGAR, Narratively, Longreads, Catapult, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Lamda Literary, and elsewhere online and in print. His first book, a memoir titled High-Risk Homosexual, is forthcoming in January 2022 with Soft Skull Press. He currently lives in Queens, New York.
“HIGH-RISK HOMOSEXUAL is a keen and tender exploration of queer identity, masculinity, and belonging. From the cockfighting ring in Nicaragua, where he was taken by his uncles to learn how to be a man, to Pulse Night Club in Orlando, where he witnesses freedom and joy on the dance floor, Edgar Gomez writes with honesty and humor about the difficulty of straddling boundaries and the courage of finding oneself. This book signals the arrival of a major new talent.”
"Gomez explores survivor’s guilt as well as his belief in the strength of the queer community to rally from this tragedy. He balances hope and humor with the realities of hate, erasure, and violence."
"Edgar Gomez is an incredibly insightful writer and instructor."
"Edgar Gomez is an open minded person that accepts all perspectives of students without bringing anyone down in a negative way. Does not make you feel that you cannot voice your own opinion without getting judged."
"His charm, and charisma and humor made this class so compelling. I was so interested in being transported to another form of thinking and writing because of Edgar. Amazing overall."
"Super funny, approachable, and cheerful. Very active with students, answers any questions to the best of his ability, keeps up with emails and study guides. Always asks if there is anything we do not understand."
"When people sign up for any course, they do not know who their TA will be. As the TAs lined up at the front of the classroom and introduced themselves, I hoped that Edgar was assigned my TA. They say "Don't judge a book by its cover," but how can I not? He had such a positive attitude not only that first day of lecture but all throughout the quarter-- it flowed through me as a student. Not only did his positive attitude motivate me in class, but it made me feel welcomed to share my thoughts and ideas."