This past weekend, Qommunity Media LLC set up its first LGBTQ Pride table since launching the Qommunicate Publishing imprint. The event was a smashing success, filled with new connections, fun and excitement. Here is a brief look at how the day went and why it was such a great entry into our presence at Pride events from here into the foreseeable future.
Cofounders Curry and Sage left Becket, Mass in their small Chrysler sedan packed to the hilt with book boxes, pop-up tents and promotional supplies. The car was so low to the ground, we weren’t even sure it would make it. We had packed the car earlier in the week to see if we needed to rent a van instead. But after researching van rentals, we opted to try our luck, and fortunately, it held out. We showed up at Washington Park 15 minutes early for load-in, which was a good thing considering we arrived at the wrong end of the one-way Hudson street where registration was stationed. As it turned out, they must have started letting vendors in sooner than the stated time, probably to get all those vehicles arriving early off the city streets. In any case, considering how intimidated we both were by this first venture into vendor-ing at a big event, and in an unfamiliar city, no less, the whole arrival and registration process was a breeze. Our spot was just a few yards from the entrance and, before we knew it, we were unloading the vehicle.
Both parking and set-up went smoothly and, once we were done, we stood smiling, eagerly awaiting the end of the parade and the influx of people. We could hear the parade before we saw it, the air full of music and cheering. Then we saw the tides of colorful, exuberant bodies streaming alongside the park perimeter. Soon, the marchers had entered the park and, before we knew it, the festival was on!
Many people took double-takes at our banners before deciding to come under our tent and check out what we were all about. One banner showed the cover to one of our most popular books, Queer Families showing a flock of sheep surrounding and eyeing a sole rainbow sheep in the center, with the phrase, “Every family has a rainbow sheep!”. The other, stretching down six feet along one pole of the tent, said: Queer Publisher | LGBTQ+ Anthologies | For Teens & Adults | Fiction Non-fiction Poetry Scripts | Writers from Around the World | queerpublisher.com” and our logo. Those two elements seemed to elicit a great response from a lot of people. They could resonate with the sheep image, whether they saw themselves as the rainbow one or one of the others, and, as many visitors told us, they had never heard of an all-queer publisher before, queer owned and operated and producing books curated from the words of multiple queer voices from every corner of the globe. In a field of rainbow flags and rainbow-themed paraphernalia, skin care products and sexy clothing, we were the first bookseller many of these folks had seen at a pride before — and these were not all spring chickens!
Whether or not people bought books, most who entered our tent left with at least a free bookmark in hand and/or their name and info on our mailing list. We didn’t even have to ask people to sign our list, they were so eager to keep up with what we were up to. We also had a sign displaying QR codes for our social media and website and another sign with submissions information for writers and artists (and non-writers and non-artists with a story or picture to share) and a QR code to our submissions page. These two signs arguable got at least as many pics as any decked-out festival-goer. (And writing this a few days later, we can attest that many people at that event have already submitted work to us since. Thank you to all of those people!)
The people we met in Albany throughout this thrilling, love-filled day were its absolute highlight. We met English and writing teachers who were excited to find LGBTQ+ material they might include in their curricula and to which they may encourage their students to submit work. We met an elderly gentlemen who was later spotted reading the book he’d just bought from us on the festival lawn. Perhaps most thrillingly, we met a mother and her 14-year-old daughter who had just recently come out. This was her first Pride and both mother and daughter were beside themselves that here was a way the mother could provide the daughter some insight into her own self-discovery process without any personal knowledge or experience on the subject.
Truly, it was this response from people, even more than the books flying off the shelves, that excited us most and told us that would unequivocally be the first of many innumerable Pride events we would be attending. That this day marked the beginning of something: the next huge chapter in the genesis of a voice for the whole queer community.
Next up for Qommunicate Publishing this 2019 LGBTQ Pride season: Berkshire Pride in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on Saturday, June 15. Berkshire Pride is where Qommunity set up its first Pride table before launching the Qommunicate imprint. We’re thrilled to be setting up there again this year, only with Qommunicate’s colorful and eclectic catalog of books on display. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you there. Come by and say hi!