Queer Slam Fundraiser for AIDS Walk LA 2021

Monday, August 23 at 7 pm via Zoom

Queer Slam is a monthly podcast featuring stories, spoken word, and poetry from LA’s queer community.

Join us to hear headlining and open mic poets and storytellers in celebration of queerness.

Before COVID-19, there was “the other pandemic” of HIV/AIDS, which took an immeasurable toll on the LGBTQ+ community and many other marginalized communities. AIDS Project Los Angeles, and later APLA Heath & Wellness, responded early and swiftly to provide care and resources to those who were affected. Today, they provide comprehensive healthcare, dental, and behavioral health services to people with and without private insurance, on Medicaid—anyone who needs care can access it there. The quest to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic continues with treatment and prevention services and advocacy.

This online event, produced by Cody Sisco and Colby Cameron Holt and hosted by Tony Soto, is free to attend via Zoom. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations will go to APLA Health and Wellness for AIDS Walk LA 2021.

This event raised $120 for AIDS Walk LA 2021.

About the Headlining Poets

Gordon Blitz

After spending forty years as an accountant, Gordon retired in 2017 and became a writing machine. During 2020, Gordon had published work in Wingless Dreamer, Two Hawks Quarterly, The Doctor T.J.Eckleburg Review, Issue #22 of Really Systems, Gay Wicked Ways and Emeritus Chronicles. On January 1st 2021, his novella Shipped Off was published as part of the Running Wild Press Novella Anthology Volume four, book one. He’s a standup comic who has performed at Canter’s and The Blackbox Theater at the GLBT Village in Hollywood. He was also a contestant on “Hear My Story” that was featured on

IMRU. You can listen to his very own special episode of Queer Slam called “Just Gordon”. We love him very much here at Queer Slam!

His blog URL is: https://culturecritique.blog/

C.R.U.S.H. (Creating.Realities.Using.Spiritual.Hands)

C.R.U.S.H. is a literary and spoken word artist who has performed internationally and is a nationally ranked slam poet. They are the15th ranked female poet in the nation (Women of the World Poetry Slam 2020) and the 30th ranked poet in the world (iWPS). They are a member of the Dallas Poetry Slam Team where they took 1st place at Southwest Shootout 2019 Team Competition and 2nd Place at SoFried 2019 and IPS 2021 Regional Poetry Team Competition Their purpose is merging poetry, art, and positive energy to help others find healing and inner power to create their desired realities.

Their website is: https://crush-crave.square.site/

RISING UP: Poets Take A Stand

This reading featured four poets from different backgrounds who are concerned with issues of social justice. Lisbeth Coiman, Deborah J. Hunter, Teresa Mei Chuc, and Leonora Simonovis will share their poems of resistance to stand up to racism, dictators, and the machinery of war itself.

This online event, produced by Lisbeth Coiman in collaboration with Bookswell, was free to attend via Zoom and YouTube. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations went to Stop AAPI Hate.

Times of Thirst and Desire: An Erotic Lit Fundraiser for AIDS Walk 2020

Thursday, September 10, 2020
8:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT

Explore the erotic landscape of desire as depicted by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Tai Farnsworth, M. Kiguwa, Yesika Salgado, and Dare Williams in this AIDS Walk LA 2020 fundraiser.

About this Event

Following in the tradition of queer resistance and activism during the AIDS pandemic, we gather to celebrate writers exploring thirst for contact. The COVID-19 pandemic tests the boundaries of danger and desire. The benediction to “stay safe” even as we pursue intimacy feels familiar. We’ve prepared for this. We’ve lived it before.

This reading will explore the erotic landscape of desire as depicted by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Tai Farnsworth, M. Kiguwa, Yesika Salgado, and Dare Williams. We’ll discuss how our bodies’ intersections are reshaped by social distancing and the appeal of kink and fetish and all types of subversive and defiant sexual relations.

This event is free to attend. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will ticketed donations will go to APLA Health (formerly AIDS Project Los Angeles), an L.A. not-for-profit health services organization that provides a lifeline of care to LGBTQ+ patients and other underserved communities.

About the Writers

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016), and is a former Steinbeck Fellow and Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner. Her work is published in Acentos Review, CALYX, and crazyhorse. She is a member of Miresa Collective and cofounder of Women Who Submit.

Tai Farnsworth is a mixed-race, queer writer based in LA. Since earning her MFA, she’s been toiling away in education while working on revisions for her agent. When she’s not writing or poisoning young minds with her liberal agenda, she is reading, practicing yoga, cooking, and tending to her plants. Her work, which focuses heavily on self-acceptance and queerness, can be found in The Evansville Review, Sinister Wisdom, Homology Lit, Drunk Monkeys, and Anastamos. Find her @taionthefly.

M. Kiguwa graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science with her master’s in media, communication, and development and has worked in the entertainment industry in the United States, Europe, and Africa for over 10 years. She is currently writing an adventure memoir as a 2020 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow.

Yesika Salgado is a Los Angeles based Salvadoran poet who writes about her family, her culture, her city, and her fat brown body. She has shared her work in venues and campuses throughout the country. Salgado is a 2017 and 2018 National Poetry Slam finalist. Her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Teen Vogue, Univision, CNN, Huffington Post, NPR, TEDx, and many other digital platforms. She is an internationally recognized body-positive activist and the writer of the column Suelta for Remezcla. Yesika is the author of best-sellers Corazón, Tesoro, and Hermosa, published with Not a Cult.

A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, Dare Williams is a Queer HIV-positive poet, artist, rooted in Southern California. He has received fellowships from John Ashbury Home School and The Frost Place. Dare’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a two-time finalist for Blood Orange Review’s contest. His work has been featured in Cultural Weekly, Bending Genres, THRUSH and Exposition Review. He is currently working on his first poetry collection.

YOU DOWN FOR THE CAUSE OR WHAT? Writers of color discuss allyship, featuring Sehba Sarwar, Tanya Ko Hong, Lisbeth Coiman, and Chris L. Terry

The Black Lives Matter uprising has inspired people around the world to take to the streets and demand justice and transformational change. Companies and organizations are issuing statements of support. Social media is deluged with posts in support of the movement.

As writers, it’s imperative that we pose penetrating questions not just to others but within ourselves and strive toward honesty and change, even when issues are hidden and obscured.

At this gathering, writers will share their work and create space to discuss questions such as: Has the US has entered a new era of allyship? Has a new generation committed to an anti-racist future? Or are we seeing performative allyship that will fade away with the next news cycle?

In a literary reading featuring Sehba Sarwar, Tanya Ko Hong, Lisbeth Coiman, and Chris L. Terry will raise questions and reflect on what it means to be an ally and how writers of color can generate and examine their work in the context of a larger movement. Audience members are encouraged to bring quotes from Black authors to share in the chat.

The event is free to attend via Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube. All proceeds from pay-what-you-will Eventbrite tickets will be dispersed to Black Lives Matter LA. In addition, the organizers will share direct links to donate to a short list of other social justice organizations.

About the BookSwell Read and Relate series
To keep connections alive between readers and writers during troubled times, BookSwell is organizing Read & Relate, a virtual video chat salon celebrating books, writers, and the literary life.

We’ll be using Zoom to conduct the salon and the feed will also be shared via Facebook Live and YouTube. Audio and video may be recorded and re-shared via BookSwell’s social media channels.

The Exposition Park – Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library of the Los Angeles Public Library system is a collaborating partner on the BookSwell Read & Relate series. The library hosts events online in support of the Library at Home program of the Los Angeles Public Library.


This event raised $400 for Black Lives Matter LA.


Allyship Resources