Out on the Page was set up in 2018 as an experimental project to bring together emerging LGBTQ+ writers to support each other in their writing and to share information and experiences.
On a writing journey that included course and writers groups, Paul Bradley-Cong sometimes met other LGBTQ+ writers, and, when they shared their experience, common themes came up. Being a writer can be isolating, being an LGBTQ+ writer can be even more isolating. It seemed that there were very few places, especially in person, to come into a safe and supportive space to write and network, and be yourself as an LGBTQ+ writer. This was coupled with a preceived lack of visibility and visible support for LGBTQ+ writing across large parts of the publishing industry and academia.
The idea, therefore, was to do something to reduce isolation, increase visibility and provide support to emerging LGBTQ+ writers to develop their writing and bring more of it to audiences by encouraging and facilitating networking, collaboration and mutual support.
In the summer of 2018, Paul set up a basic website and that Autumn began running small one-day retreats in Bristol, Manchester and London.
By the end of 2019 Paul, with other LGBTQ+ writers he'd met along the way, had run more than a dozen one-day retreats across England, hosted cafe-casuals in Manchester and Bristol, experimented with a writing group in Bristol and run a queer poetry and prose workshop at Birmingham Literary Festival. We also introduced a members' area to our website and developed our first LGBTQ+ Writers' Resource List.
The Arts Council Funded Project 2020
We successfully applied to the Arts Council England National Lottery Grant Fund to support and develop our project through 2020. A core aspect of our funding was to run 12 one-day writing and network retreats, with established LGBTQ+ Guest Writers. It was going well, between January and March we held four retreats with great Guest Writers including Okechuckwu Nzelu, Mia Violet and Jonathan Kemp. We'd lined up Rosie Garland, Meg-John Barker and Natasha Carthew for the summer. And then came Lockdown.
Supporting LGBTQ+ Writers Through Lockdown and Covid-19
The UK national lockdown began in late March; by the first week in April, we had moved completely online and secured permission to vary our programme to best respond to the crisis and most importantly to try and be there for our member writers, to help keep them connected.
We made all our events free for the next five months and focussed on connecting, casual, networking events. We ran Cafe Casuals, Live Forums' and Bringing Together genre networking events. We upheld our commitment to the Guest Writers we had booked and ran successful online Q&As with Paul Mendez, Michael Amherst, and Rosie Garland. We experimented with some 'industry' discussions, writing workshops and introduced the popular Micro-Retreats where you could come into a safe online space to write and also meet other LGBTQ+ writers. We also linked up with UK Silver Pride and Leeds LGBTQ Literature Festival. All in all, over those five months, we ran 50 free events; planned and delivered by Paul and Associates Jo Whalley, Helen Dale, and others, providing a much-needed connection for hundreds of LGBTQ+ writers.
We remained online for the rest of 2020, and are proud of the programme we put in place; a blend of some of the best events we ran earlier in the year alongside the introduction of new experimental events and workshops; often by drawing upon the fantastic skills and experience of our member writers. This included our first International LGBTQ+ Writers' Forum.
What now for 2021 and beyond?
We've been awarded Arts Council England funding from June 2021 until the end of 2022. This will support the development of Out on the Page as well as its diverse and sometimes experimental development opportunities for queer writers wherever they are in the world.
We are also aiming to publish our first print anthology chapbook in 2021. You can find out more by clicking the picture here.
Meet our team
Meet our team, get to know us, get in touch.
Founder | Artistic Director
Paul set up the Out on the Page in 2018 as a way to connect with and find support from other emerging LGBTQ+ writers in and around Bristol. He is an experienced writitng event and workshop facilitator. He oversees the artistic direction of the project. In Dec 2020 Paul joined the Board of Trustees of Literature Works, the Regional Writing Agency for South-West England.
Writing under the name Sam Jenks, he writes fiction, auto-fiction, creative non-fiction, often a mash-up of all three. His writing has appeared in Litro, Fruit Journal and Queerlings. He is currently writing a series of connected stories set in contemporary Japan.
Associate Facilitator and Membership Administration
Jo discovered her passion for writing during her teens. Unable to talk to anyone about her sexuality, writing provided Jo with an outlet to express herself. After leaving school at the age of sixteen, Jo has worked in a variety of jobs ranging from painting ceramic plaques to managing the communal areas of apartment blocks.
It wasn’t until turning forty that Jo rediscovered the joy of writing when she started volunteering for the radio station Gaydio. During her four and a half years at Gaydio, Jo wrote the brief for the nightly current affairs discussion programme The Exchange and then worked as a broadcast journalist for Gaydio’s arts and culture programme The Sunday Forum. One of her short stories The Visitor was selected by Commonword for their upcoming anthology ‘Indivisible’ which is an exploration of hidden disabilities.
As well as assisting in developing Out on the Page's events programme, Jo is a member of the Manchester International Festival People's Forum and is an Associate with Castlefield Gallery, Manchester.
Associate Social Media Coordinator
Louis was raised working-class in Yorkshire, England where he discovered writing poetry and fiction. He studied an English Literature BA at Newcastle University and decided when he left, to pursue a career in marketing, which led him to work in a variety of commercial and corporate marketing settings.
After moving to Manchester in 2019, Louis decided to begin sharing his poetry with the world. He writes on topics such as sexuality, relationships, technology, and grief. His poems have appeared in various literary journals and magazines including Untitled: Voices and Polari Press as well as many others. In 2020 Louis left his B2B marketing role when he was the recipient of an Arts Council National Lottery Project Grant. Through this grant, he facilitated a multitude of LGBTQ+ writing workshops and developed his debut poetry collection: Human Men which is due to be released in September 2021.
Louis now hopes to use his marketing skills to spread important messages for organisations that matter such as Out on the Page. As well as being a Social Media Co-ordinator for Out on the Page he is currently working as a BBC New Creative, a workshop facilitator and a freelance writer.