1. Toni Newman, author
Newman is an African-American trans author who came of age in Jacksonville, NC and later graduated from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. She is known for her memoir I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, which explores her 25-year transition journey. Newman is also community editor for a digital magazine, Proud to Be Out, and blogs for Huffington Post’s Gay Voices. Learn more about Toni at tonidnewman.com.
2. David Sedaris, essayist
Undoubtedly the best known author on this list, Sedaris is the author of several personal essay collections. He is widely-regarded as a master of satire and social critique with a side of wit. Learn more at davidsedarisbooks.com.
3. Lewis Wallace, multimedia journalist
Wallace is a trans independent writer, editor and multimedia journalist based in Durham where he focuses on telling the stories of geographically, economically and politically marginalized people as state politics editor for Scalawag magazine. He is currently writing a book about the history of “objectivity” in journalism. Learn more about Wallace at lewispants.com.
4. “I Don’t Do Boxes” youth contributors
This magazine produced out of Elsewhere in downtown Greensboro features the narratives of queer-identifying youth living in the American South. QueerLab, a youth-led digital storytelling project develops the publication. Learn more at idontdoboxes.org.
5. Bertha Harris, novelist
Born in Fayetteville, Harris was a lesbian postmodernist novelist best known for her novel Lover, which reflected her engagement with the second-wave women’s rights movement.
6. Allan Gurganus
Born in Rocky Mount, Gurganus is best known for his 1989 debut novel, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, but went on to publish several other novels, novellas and short stories, and some of his shorter fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Upon returning to North Carolina after a stint in New York City, he co-founded Writers Against Jesse Helms. Learn more at allangurganus.com.