The news is a battleground of ideas with contrasting viewpoints and positions surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, yet in healthcare and higher education, we seek to provide care, foster learning, and improve lives. Storytelling, poetry, and creative arts bring relief and draw people together. With that in mind, this year’s Yeo Prize and Evanescent issue seek to amplify voices from within our Jefferson LGBTQ+ community, hear about their health journeys, and ultimately bring our Jefferson community together.
Are you a patient, caregiver, clinician, administrator, employee, teacher, or student in the Jefferson community or Jefferson neighborhoods who identifies with the LGBTQ+ community and its allies? We invite you to submit stories, poems, visual art, or essays that address the LGBTQ+ experience. Everyone has a unique voice, and we want to hear from as many of you as possible.
We offer these prompts as mental firecrackers to get you thinking and writing. This year, we are accepting essays, poetry, and short fiction for the writing prize and essays, poetry, short fiction, and visual art for Evanescent. Keep in mind that all submissions to the writing prize also will be considered for publication in the next issue of Evanescent: A Journal of Literary Medicine. Visual art will be considered exclusively for Evanescent.
· Struggle: Being in the LGBTQ+ community raises pronounced issues of self-definition and personal boundaries. People in this community have perhaps had to define personal identity and preference to themselves and others in ways and at frequencies that those in the heterosexual and cisgender communities have not had to do. Some might consider this struggle. What are the effects on the individual of this ongoing process or struggle—good and bad? Tell us a personal or fictional story or write a poem that addresses these issues and the effect they have had on you and/or others in your social sphere.
· Education: Gender identity and sexual orientation are different but related concepts that intertwine in various ways in the LGBTQ+ community. How should the public-at-large as well as academic and healthcare organizations be educated about these terms, and what might the effect of that education be?
· Perseverance: For many people, being in the LGBTQ+ community is about perseverance. Tell us a story or write a poem about how you have persevered and what has resulted from your efforts. Whether the fruits of your perseverance have been joy, sorrow, or both—what have you learned from it about yourself and others? How has achieving physical or mental well-being required perseverance?
· Advocacy: Over the last few years, anti-LGBTQ+ and especially anti-trans legislation has been ramping up. Much of the onslaught has been targeted to preventing gender-affirming care, which has included the criminalization of doctors providing that care. What do you want law makers to know about how this legislation is affecting the LGBTQ+ community? And what actions do you want to be taken?
· Health encounters: For health care professionals, tell the story of an encounter you had with a patient from the LGBTQ+ community. What did you learn? What surprised you? What misconceptions (if any) were corrected? For patients and caregivers, have you or those you care for struggled to find medical care or mental health care? What do you think of the current state of healthcare being provided to LGBTQ+ patients? What should be improved?
· Power of words: Language can be both liberating and confining. Terminology can name and illuminate an experience or identity, but a slur can cut a person down. Hearing affirming pronouns can bring joy, but hearing a deadname can feel violent. Write about your experience with names, naming, and language either within or in alliance with the LGBTQ+ community.
· Joy: The LGBTQ+ community faces discrimination, struggle, and trauma, but it is also filled with love, celebration, and acceptance. Describe or depict a moment or story where you experienced or witnessed queer joy.
· Allyship: The word “tolerance” suggests putting up with something, but the word “ally” suggests mutual respect and support. Consider allyship in the context of the LGBTQ+ community. What does it mean to be an ally? Share a personal reflection, story, or poem on this topic, whether you are an ally or know one.
· Community and chosen family: Family and community can mean so many different things, but finding the happiness of family and community makes life richer. What does family mean to you? Community? Whether it’s regarding family of origin, found family, or community—share a story or poem about how this has influenced your journey or healthcare practice.
· Generations: What it means to exist in the LGBTQ+ community has changed over time. Historical events like the AIDS epidemic, the Stonewall Riots, and the legalization of gay marriage have had a huge impact on the community. What is the ongoing conversation about LGBTQ+ history among and between generations? What perspectives, wisdom, or history get shared among generations? How do older generations within the community share this wisdom with younger generations?
Submissions of essays and short fiction should not exceed 1,250 words (about 4½ pages, double-spaced). There is no minimum length.
Submissions of poetry should not exceed 4 pages. You can submit separate poems or one long poem.
The deadline for submission is Sunday December 31, 2023 at 11:59pm. Please do not include your name, department, or any other identifying information in the submitted writing. Enter this information as prompted in the submission form. Limit one entry per person. The spirit of the Prize is to encourage and stimulate new writing in response to the prompts. With that in mind, unfortunately we cannot accept submissions of previously published essays. For more information on the The Drs. Theresa and Charles Yeo Writing Prize, click here.