Gulfport's 5th annual ReadOut Festival, a celebration of lesbian literature, virtually returns this February

This year’s keynote speaker is Michèle Alexandre, Dean of the College of Law at Stetson University.

click to enlarge Michèle Alexandre. keynot speaker for Gulfport's ReadOut Festival 2022. - MICHELEALEXANDR/TWITTER
michelealexandr/Twitter
Michèle Alexandre. keynot speaker for Gulfport's ReadOut Festival 2022.
Not even a full calendar year after 2021’s ReadOut Festival, the annual celebration of all-things literature and lesbian returns next month, running from Feb. 18-20 on Zoom.

This year's ReadOut will be a hybrid between livestream panels and workshops and pre-recorded content from featured authors and speakers. Although this Zoom event is free to attend, it requires registration. Despite attendance being free, donations for this annual nonprofit event are always welcome.

The ReadOut Festival used to take over the Gulfport Public Library for days at a time, but since last year has opted for the virtual route. In 2019, founder of ReadOut Alison Solomon told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that “if it eventually outgrows the library, so much the better”—and this year’s installation has the range to connect with literature lovers from around the globe.

Keynote speaker for 222—one of the main events of the festival—is Michèle Alexandre, Dean of the College of Law at DeLand’s Stetson University. She is the author of two books, 2019’s “The New Frontiers of Civil Rights Litigation” and 2014’s “Sexploitation: Sexual Profiling and the Illusion of Gender,” and will speak on strengthening lesbian voices throughout the spheres of literature and law. Notably, Alexandre is Stetson University’s first Black and first queer Dean, and has devoted much of her career to efforts like sustainability, economic independence and gender equity—topics that may make their way into her opening speech on Feb. 18.

Last year, ReadOut reached virtual capacity, hosting 900 participants and over 80 authors, spoken word artists, and comics who all demonstrated “how Lesbian Voices Persist and Prevail in these transformative times.” Festival organizers had to expand Zoom capabilities to accommodate everyone, so this year’s celebration should be a breeze.

This annual reading and literature festival is still looking for sponsors, so if you and your business are interested, visit the ReadOut website to sign up. There are three different tiers, depending on how much bread you plan on spending.

And if you miss the in-person feel of ReadOut Festival, head to the Gulfport Public Library’s LGBTQ+ resource center—the only one in the state of Florida. The center actively organizes LGBTQ+ programming throughout the year, and has an ever-growing curated collection of LGBTQ+ books and digital resources. Sign up for the newsletter, and keep up with ReadOut Festival’s latest updates by visiting @readoutfestival on Facebook.

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