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In Your Hands is a Trove of Remarkable Queer Fiction

It’s contradictory and capacious. When thinking about curating this issue, I decided to seek out work from queer-identified writers of all orientations. I put on my editorial hat and searched for stories that describe a textual, granular, embodied experience of what it’s like to be an ever-evolving blob moving about, to and fro, on this wretched planet. After all, a story should rearrange my mind, my genitals. Over the course of a month, I read five hundred stories from the slush pile. Each story showed me something. It was one of the best reading experiences of my life. No joke.

This issue contains seventeen stories of vulnerability, brilliance, and depth. They reckon with queerness and queer states of being from oblique angles. They gesture at the possibility of transformation via language, imagery, description, voice. A personal aside: Sometime during this editorial process, I started taking testosterone. The edges of the world sharpened and clarified; I became impatient for change. Perhaps you could think of the stories in this issue as a trail of polished gems left behind in a forest. Instead of leading you back home, they will help you find your way somewhere new and unexpected. That’s my hope for you, and for all of us!

Speaking of hope, during this time of great uncertainty and certain catastrophe, like everyone else, I’ve been thinking about the future. I asked the writers in this issue to complete the following sentence:

The future of queer fiction is _______________.

Here are their responses: The future of queer fiction is terminal.1 The future of queer fiction is beyond.2 The future of queer fiction is manifest.3 The future of queer fiction is full of sexy stretch marks, Asian sugar babies, and gush Good morning texts.4 The future of queer fiction is the present, and it’s here to stay.5 The future of queer fiction is collective liberation and new lineages of love.6 The future of queer fiction is embodied, dirty, sad, funny, brave, introverted, intersectional, shameful, rural, suburban, and international; it looks clear-eyed and with precision at the vast and uncategorizable reality of how queers really live now in this landscape where profound liberation sits right up against profound suffering.7 The future of queer fiction is bigger, broader, bolder than ever before; its shape and significance will continue to expand and grow far past what we’ve dared imagine for it. 8 The future of queer fiction is free of binaries and borders, so limitless that it’s impossible to contain in one sentence.9 The future of queer fiction is an unapologetic roar.10 The future of queer fiction grows like a week, like a rhizome: a holy plant splitting concrete patiently, radically, centering each of its shoots, blooming in ways that looks strange and grotesque to the pedestrians who try to grind it back into the pavement.11 The future of queer fiction is hysteria, feverish ecstasy that was once diagnosed as mental illness but is now intoxicating joy.12 The future of queer fiction is writing so furiously about queerness that our stories are no longer in need of hiding away.13 The future of queer fiction is boundless; bold, bright, and brilliant.14 The future of queer fiction is something I’d love to see written on a bathroom wall.15 The future of queer fiction is what it’s always been — transgressive.16

I’ll leave you with that. Good luck out there.

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1 Vi Khi Nao

2 Bryan Washington

3 Sarah Gerard

4 Christopher James Llego

5 Dennis Norris II

6 K-Ming Chang

7 Emma Copley Eisenberg

8 Kristen N. Arnett

9 Kayla KumariUpadhyaya

10 Juli Delgado Lopera

11 Bridget Brewer

12 Venita Blackburn

13 Timi Odueso

14 hurmat kazmi

15 Eileen Myles

16 Paul Dalla Rosa

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Buy McSweeney’s 62: The Queer Fiction Issue