HEADCASE: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Writers & Artists on Mental Illness
5,000 word count limit
Teresa Theophano is a New York State-licensed social worker and freelance writer/editor. She is currently employed at Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), providing case management services primarily to the homebound elderly. She helped launch the New York City Queer Mental Health Initiative (QMHI), an LGBTQ mental health peer support network in collaboration with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, in July 2014. Since graduating from Hunter College School of Social Work with an MSW the same year that her book Queer Quotes (Beacon, 2004) was published, she has worked and volunteered with LGBTQ communities at numerous organizations including Rainbow Heights Club, Trinity Place Shelter, and Queers for Economic Justice. Additionally, she has taught as an adjunct professor at the New York City College of Technology–part of the City University of New York–and completed a year-long training program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as well as graduate courses in public health. Teresa has been involved in social justice movements for decades and is interested in further exploring radical and holistic approaches to mental health. She has contributed to websites including xojane.com, glbtq.com, and queermentalhealth.org and to anthologies including The Queer Encyclopedia of the Visual Arts and The Queer Encyclopedia of Music, Dance, and Theatre, and has read short works at various literary events in New York City.
Stephanie Schroeder is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for The Guardian US, Curve Magazine, Passport Magazine, GO! Magazine, Brooklyn Papers, About.com, Shewired.com, Station-to-Station.com, Life of The Law, Lambda Literary Review, and blogs about mental illness/mental health. Her work has been anthologized in the classic queer anthology That’s Revolting: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation, as well as Up All Night: Adventures in Lesbian Sex, Hot & Bothered: Short, Short Fiction on Lesbian Desire, volumes 3 & 4, Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage, and Easy to Love, But Hard to Live With: Real People, Invisible Disabilities, True Stories. She is an activist working toward social and economic justice within an anti-racist framework and in the context of sexual and gender liberation. Stephanie graduated from Hunter College with a BA in communications, holds a JD from New York Law School, and has a special interest in creativity and mental illnesses as well as therapeutic jurisprudence. She is the author of the memoir Beautiful Wreck: Sex, Lies & Suicide.
The Book: Headcase is a proposed anthology to be comprised of 20-25 pieces: essays, poems, illustrations, photographs and/or other expressive mediums by writers/artists both established and new, exploring the themes of mental health, mental illness, and experiences of the mental health care systems by members of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.
Not surprisingly, LGBTQ people have historically been pathologized on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity alone. Few traditional mental health programs and treatment modalities sensitive to and designed to meet the needs of LGBTQ psychiatrically disordered people exist. And not enough of our stories have been brought to light—not even to the LGBTQ community at large.
The anthology will include stories from a broad cross-section of the LGBTQ community, across boundaries of race, age, socioeconomic status, and ethnic identity. It is critical to examine the intersections among forms of oppression in framing issues of mental health and approaches to wellness.
We’re looking for a variety of material: First-person essays, secondhand observations and analytical pieces (if written in an accessible style). We are open to graphic essays/cartoons as well, and we’re eager to see ephemera: evocative photos, drawings, journal entries, and other documentation contributors consider useful.
Obviously, we’re looking for excellent writing–colorful, moving, funny, sad, surprising, difficult, insightful. Given the word limitation, it might be best to focus on a certain aspect of mental illness and mental health, and/or your particular experience—at least as an organizing principle.
Some general topics you might consider as a starting point:
- Personal narratives that thread LGBTQ and mental health issues together
- Various LGBTQ issues that can impact an individual’s mental health or emotional wellbeing
- Experiences navigating the mental health care system(s) during gender transition
- Cultural competence (of lack thereof) of mental health providers who have treated you
- The impact of equality (or lack thereof) on mental health
- Stories of the well-being of LGBTQ parents and children
- Exploration of the impact of skin color, class and other privileges on mental health treatment
- Family history of mental illness and your role/place within the family dynamic
- Dating and mental illness
- Surviving psychiatric abuse
- Experiences with attempted suicide, self-harm, etc.
- Experience with pharmaceuticals, psychotherapy, ECT, or other treatments
- Coming to terms with mental illness
- Challenging traditional views of mental illness
- Coming out as mentally ill in LGBTQ communities
- Surviving conversion/reparative therapies
Deadline for submissions: TBD. As of late March 2015 this call has been available for about two months. We have a terrific shortlist in progress and we are still considering submissions. If you have a polished draft or a finished piece of art, send it our way; if you have an idea but have not yet begun your piece, it’s a good idea to email us a query before you plunge into writing or creating.
Please email inquiries and submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and include a brief biography so we get a sense of who you are and where your work has appeared. (It’s okay if you are looking to get published for the first time, too!)
Please be sure to include your name and contact info on any attachments you send.
We look forward to hearing from you!
~Teresa & Stephanie