SAINTS & SINNERS LGBTQ+ Literary Festival to Celebrate 20th Year This Month

The festival runs March 24-26, 2023.

By: Mar. 04, 2023

SAINTS & SINNERS LGBTQ+ Literary Festival to Celebrate 20th Year This Month Saints and Sinners, an annual LGBTQ+ literary festival, will run concurrently with the The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival, March 24-26, 2023 for its 20th year. Founded by Paul Willis, Greg Herren, and Jean Redmann in collaboration with NO/AIDS Task Force in 2003, Saints + Sinners (SAS) began as a creative outlet to showcase the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ literary community and offer HIV/AIDS information. "It's hard to believe it's been twenty years since the first Saints & Sinners," Paul Willis says. "It seems like just yesterday when we started batting around the idea, but the world-and New Orleans-have changed so much. The first Saints and Sinners happened in the year Lawrence v. Texas was decided; things like marriage equality, undetectable viral loads, and PrEP seemed but distant hopes and dreams. But despite all the progress we've made, there's also been a regressive backlash, with mass shootings at gay clubs, the demonization of drag queens and their conflation with trans people, and now attempts to censor and ban our existence out of libraries. Saints and Sinners was important in 2003, and it's just as important in 2023 with its mission of advocacy and education about our community. In times like these, our writers are even more important."

The Festival celebrates this city's long standing attraction for LGBTQ+ writers and offers established and emerging authors, as well as students and readers, the chance to network and nurture their craft-and enjoy the joy and fun that is New Orleans. Some of that is captured in the 20th Anniversary program book cover design featuring an original painting created just for the occasion. The artist is TIMOTHY CUMMINGS, and the painting, "Incident at the Carousel Bar," depicts a young Tennessee Williams with a mysterious masked companion at the Hotel Monteleone's iconic bar. The painting will be on display and up for auction at the Festival, which takes place at the Monteleone.

This year, the Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary and features a diverse array of artistic and educational offerings. SAS offers two full days' worth of panel discussions, with topics ranging from publishing and marketing to reflections on the LGBTQ+ movement. Our reading series also takes place both days, featuring over 50 writers, including new voices and literary icons. Panel topics and discussions at the 2023 Festival include An Eye for an Eye: Justice v. Revenge, How to Write a Memoir and Keep Your Sanity, Erotica Laid Bare, Don't Ban our Books: Writing in the Age of Censorship, YA Fiction: Challenges and Opportunities, and Potentials in Queer Publishing, to name just a few. There will be over 20 discussions to choose from during the weekend.

Writers will be able to participate in our Writer's Craft Series on Friday, March 24 with sessions by Lydia Stryk, K.M. Soehnlein, Jess Wells, Chip Livingston, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Michele Karlsberg, Jerry L. Wheeler, Felice Cohen, and Felice Picano.

Poppy Tooker will host "A Drag Brunch Named Desire," with a fabulous three-course brunch, including bottomless mimosas, and featuring three stunning queens, sponsored by Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House. Tickets available HERE

The 2023 three-day event includes noted speakers such as:

Leona Beasley is a Lambda Literary Award finalist in Lesbian Fiction for their debut novel Something Better than Home.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe is the author of Tell the Rest and No Stopping Us Now.

Allison Blevins is a queer, disabled writer and the author of Cataloguing Pain, Handbook for the Newly Disabled, A Lyric Memoir and Slowly/Suddenly.

Mark Chesnut is a New York City-based writer, editor, and public speaker.

AJ Dolman is the author of Lost Enough: A Collection of Short Stories and three poetry chapbooks.

Margot Douaihy is the author of Scorched Grace, a Gillian Flynn Books imprint.

Jewelle Gomez is author of eight books including The Gilda Stories which will soon be seen as a television mini-series.

Cheryl A. Head writes the Anthony Award-nominated book series Charlie Mack Motown Mysteries.

Greg Herren is author of over 40 novels and 50 short stories, winner of the Anthony Award, and two Lambda Literary Awards.

Andrew Holleran is the author of three novels including The Kingdom of Sand, Dancer of the Dance, a book of short stories, and a collection of essays on AIDS.

Miah Jeffra is author of The First Church of What's Happening and founding editor of the queer literary collaborative Foglifter Press.

Michele Karlsberg, publicist, publisher, advocate, and author, was recently awarded the Publishing Professional Award from Lambda Literary.

Jessica Jopp's novel, From the Longing Orchard, won the Quill Prose Award from Red Hen Press.

Judith Katz is the author of two novels: The Escape Artist and Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound.

emma x lirette is a writer and researcher in Atlanta. She is the author of Last Stand of Louisiana Shrimpers.

Gary Eldon Peter is the author of the story collection Oranges and the novel The Complicated Calculus (and Cows) of Carl Paulsen.

Felice Picano is the acclaimed author of over 30 books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and plays. His latest novels are the duology Pursuit: A Victorian Entertainment, Pursued: Lilian's Story, and the sci-fi trilogy City on a Star.

Timothy Schaffert is the author of six novels, most recently The Perfume Thief, an LA Times Top 10 Best Book of Summer.

David Valdes is the author of the young adult novels Spin Me Right Round, Brighter Than the Moon, and the forthcoming Finding My Elf.

De'Shawn Charles Winslow is the author of In West Mills, a Center for Fiction First Novel Prize winner, an American Book Award recipient, and a Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction winner.

Also special this year is the premiere of The Last Bohemia Fringe Festival, a series of performances Thursday through Saturday, March 23 - 25, in conjunction with SAS and the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival at the Twilight Room. The raucous and at times serious slate of shows includes the performers Vinsantos, Fauxnique, Lee Osorio, Jovelyn Richards, Ylva Mara Radziszewski, Lefty Lucy, and Tsarina Hellfire and Stanley Roy.

Registration and Individual Tickets are available on the SAS website: A SAS weekend pass ($150) includes SAS writer's craft sessions and literary discussion panels, the full reading series, Glitter with the Literati welcome reception, and the fiction anthology launch party and reading. SASFest closes with a reception honoring the newest inductees in the SAS Hall of Fame for their dedication to LGBTQ+ literature, introduction of this year's Emerging Writer Award winner, made possible by the generosity of Rob Byrnes, and launch of the poetry anthology, also included in registration.

A SAS Partner Party Pass ($25) includes our welcome reception, "Glitter with the Literati," the Book Launch Reading and Reception, and the Closing Reception.

Day Passes are available for $50, tickets to single sessions are available on-site, and SAS Student Rates are $25 for a Weekend Pass.

About Saints and Sinners

Since 2003, Saints + Sinners Literary Festival brings together the who's who of the LGBTQ+ literary world. The Festival features panels and writing workshops by authors, editors, and publishers for emerging writers and LGBTQ+ literature fans. Our website is Follow @SASFest on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for updates. #SAS23

Saints & Sinners is made possible through the generous support of our premier sponsor, The John Burton Harter Foundation. Major support also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The LGBTQ Fund through the Greater New Orleans Foundation, and by a project grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, additional underwriting provided by Scovern Law Firm, The Publishing Triangle, the Times Picayune | New Orleans Advocate, and New Orleans & Company.

SAS is a program of the Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival ( For more on the Festivals, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at @TWFestNOLA.


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