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 Brontez Purnell, 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 (he/she/they) is a Florida-born writer with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. A graduate of University of California, Riverside’s MFA program, he is a recipient of the 2019 Marcia McQuern Award for nonfiction. His words have appeared in Poets & Writers, Narratively, Catapult, Lithub, The Rumpus, Electric Lit, Plus Magazine, and elsewhere online and in print. His memoir, High-Risk Homosexual, was named a Best LGBTQ Book by Harper’s Bazaar. He lives in New York and Puerto Rico. Find him on Twitter @OtroEdgarGomez.
"Edgar Gomez is an incredibly insightful writer and instructor."
“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.”
"Edgar Gomez is the chaotic queer hero we both need and deserve—with humor and charm, he tenderly leads us into night clubs, bathhouses, the backseat of cars with anonymous men, asking us to examine our current place in the world amongst the lonely and brokenhearted, the ones who dare live our truest lives. For anyone whose coming out and coming of age is messy in all the ways, let High-Risk Homosexual be a road map."
"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."
"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."
"I really wasn't sure of myself walking into the class. But Edgar's encouragement really gave me the go-ahead to just get my ideas out on the page, in all their candid messiness, in a way that I haven't been able to accomplish otherwise. I've been talking to all my friends about what a cool and exciting time I had writing about the topics I did and getting the chance to experiment in new forms and formats. Our discussions about stories, whether an established author's or one another's, really forced me to sit down and break things apart more meticulously than I've been accustomed to doing. I'm so excited to keep returning to the tools I picked up in class—I already know they're gonna stick around for the long-haul!"