“I want to live the rest of my life, however long or short, with as much sweetness as I can decently manage, loving all the people I love, and doing as much as I can of the work I still have to do. I am going to write fire until it comes out of my ears, my eyes, my noseholes—everywhere. Until it’s every breath I breathe. I’m going to go out like a fucking meteor!” – Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light

Historically, the portrayal of queer people in film and literature left a lot to be desired. This is partly due to regulations such as the 1930 Hays Code (US) that barred studios from producing material showing “offenses” such as race mixing and LGBTQ+ people, among others. Such regulations meant that queer characters had to be coded and not explicitly confirmed as queer. In the Hays Code era, queer characters would often also be the villains who would then be killed off to serve as a loophole for satisfying the regulations. As such, queer characters rarely received happy endings. Similar “morality clauses” have existed and/or continue to exist around the world. Kenya, for example, prohibits material that portrays LGBTQ+ stories in a positive light—the country infamously banned the 2018 Kenyan film, Rafiki, for being a lesbian love story. The legacy of such regulations (and of queerphobia at large) lives on up to today, where queercoding and queerbaiting are both present extensively in media, and where queer joy is often not portrayed explicitly, if at all. And although progress has been made in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights through the years, same-sex relations and gender expression are still widely policed, and cisheteronormativity is violently enforced around the world. 

In this quarterly issue, Isele Magazine seeks to center and celebrate queer joy in literature. We seek fiction, nonfiction, poetry, photography, visual art, and hybrid works that explore the freedom, euphoria, and serenity in the queer existence. We seek work that explores the joy in community, the happiness in being. Send us your fantasies; your stories of family, romance, and friendship; your depictions of queer liberation; and everything in-between. Writers, poets, photographers, and artists who are part of the LGBTQ+ community are welcome to submit. Queer people of color are especially encouraged to submit. 

We accept simultaneous submissions but wish to be alerted if your work is published elsewhere. 

We do not charge submission fees. 

We will respond to every submission no later than two months from the date of submission. If you have not heard from us within two months, please feel free to send a query to quarterly@iselemagazine.com.

Isele Magazine requests the first serial rights of your published piece. However, all rights will revert to you after publication. If your work is republished elsewhere, please indicate that it previously appeared in Isele Magazine.

We pay our contributors a modest token.

All accepted submissions are automatically considered for The Isele Prizes.

Deadline: 11:59 pm CST, June 30, 2022.

Submissions: Send your work to quarterly@iselemagazine.com

The subject line should read: “Genre: Title of Work.”

Feature image by Cecilie Johnsen on Unsplash