Mama, Papa, Seestra—this issue is as much because of you as it is because of me. For hearing my voice, for letting my words sit in your hearts and not just your ears, for the difficult conversations that got easier over time, for reminding me to listen and not just speak, for proactively caring so much about things that matter, for being on my side, for being my stability and support during near constant movement and change, for always making sure I know that I’m not alone, for instilling in me the desire and ability to begin new adventures, and for being what I get home sick for—for these reasons and so many more—this issue is dedicated to you.
The relationship that exists between southern culture and queer culture is complicated and this magazine won’t ever be able to capture all that it really means to belong to both of these identities. But there are too many forgotten stories, too much creative persistence, and a boiling over of raw emotion turned poetry, not to try to reveal, bit by bit, as many of these layered and beautifully complex voices as we can. This first issue is a great start to this endeavor.
To the contributors: thank you. This issue is yours and I have loved being able to experience your voices in this way. I hope that you feel celebrated for who you are and that having your work published alongside other southern queer individuals has left you with a feeling of connection and empowerment. Keep writing, keep reading, keep sharing your work.
To the readers: thank you for listening to these voices that are made even more powerful by your doing so. This issue will broaden your perspective—as all good works of art tend to do. If you resonate with any of the expressed content, I hope you feel connection and empowerment through it, as well. And for whatever you don’t understand, let these words inspire you to reach out and ask. But also, make sure you allow yourself space to experience the beauty of it all outside of any promise of complete comprehension.
To my team at SDR: thank you. Thank you for answering my call and for caring about this project. I am so proud to be working alongside each one of you. I feel a renewed, and much needed, sense of strength and direction because of our newfound relationship and common goal. Obviously, I could not have done this without you.
Lastly, to the beautiful people of Birmingham, Alabama: change is evident in this city. Thank you for pushing and for growing and for fighting for a better South. We are a strong community and I am so damn proud to have been able to start this magazine here in this city.
– Alesha J Dawson