Growing up gay has long been an inspiration for putting pen to paper. Some is public, like Christos Tsiolkas’s story of teenage sexual nihilism Loaded, and some is private, like the computer diary kept by love-struck high-schooler Agnes in last year’s Fucking Amal (Show Me Love).
Now young writers living in Sydney’s inner west have a chance to get their gay-themed thoughts out of their diaries and into the wider world.
Johnathan Jones, the youth pastor from the Metropolitan Community Church in Petersham, has called for writings from gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people under 26 years old for inclusion in Seeking Same.
Seeking Same will be a journal of essays, poetry, short stories, articles, songs and other stuff written by non-straight youth. Once completed, the journal will be sent to schools, libraries and gay and lesbian counselling services in Australia and overseas.
The standard has already been set, Jones told the Star. In the first week of competition, he had already received 10 good entries just from word of mouth.
Jones said he had been inspired to organise the journal and competition after talking to some of the young gay and lesbian writers in the church’s youth group.
A lot of the young people I know are writers. People often bring me poems and letters they’ve written and I thought, there’s a real opportunity here, Jones said.
And even though I’m the youth pastor, I don’t just want my work to stay in the church. This is something for everybody, and a real chance for young people to get their stuff out there in the community.
Marrickville Council has chipped in $1,500 for the project. Some of the funding will be used for printing, and $600 will be divided between the best three entrants.
And although the competition has been organised by the church, entries did not need to have any religious basis, Jones said.
The Metropolitan Community Church’s youth group has about 25 regular members, as well as countless visitors who have stopped in for casual counselling about their religion.
We encourage young people to accept their sexuality and their spirituality. A lot of people ring up and want to have a chat. I have coffees with so many people -“ most just want to hear that they’re OK to be gay and still in the church, Jones said.
Two of the youth group’s members have signed up to help with the project and take part in the judging.
Jones said he was negotiating with Marrickville Council to exhibit the entries in libraries and other public venues. Regardless, the church will hold an exhibition of entries during October.
The Seeking Same GLBTI young writers competition is open to inner-western residents 26 years old or younger who identify as same-sex-attracted or non-heterosexual.
Entries have to reach the judges by Tuesday 1 October, and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 0410 562 900 for more details.