EIC of New York Media and Senior Vice President of Vox Media
Haskell has had a smooth transition to EIC this year. New York has retained its “classy and punkish” spirit (a recent impeachment cover broke the internet) while opening its arms to queer culture (its multiple drag queen covers caused a social media uproar). And next, he says you can expect “a handful of big, expensive pieces of journalism that have no guarantee of success.”
Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, CEO, and CFO of Autostraddle
With a successful fundraising campaign, Autostraddle, Bernard’s website, resulted in senior staff raises and increased freelance editorial rates, as well as continued longevity within a decline of queer media. “We have a unique and specific relationship with our community...They trust us,” Bernard says. That’s a business strategy we all need to get behind.
This year, Cannick went into double duty—as special assistant to the president of the Los Angeles City Council by day, and by night, covering and tracking the movement of Ed Buck and his many (Black, gay male) victims. When he was finally arrested, Cannick felt a sense of relief and gratification. “This little Black girl with no major backing or support of any kind has been able to create change,” she says.
A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston (Dutton)
There’s been one person conveniently erased from Whitney Houston’s legacy—and, ironically, she may have been her “Greatest Love of All.” Years after Houston’s tragic passing, Robyn Crawford confidently steps out of the shadows (a place she’d allegedly been cast by the Houston clan), proudly revealing the relationship she shared with her best friend and lover. Rather than tarnishing her legacy in sensationalism, Crawford, with love, manages to honor it in a way nobody else ever could.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press)
Written by poet, fiction writer, and (as of this year) the recipient of the MacArthur “genius grant,” this tragically beautiful piece of literature is framed in part as a love letter from Vuong to his mother, a Vietnamese immigrant who never learned to read. Chapter after chapter, Vuong (somewhat ironically) proves it’s not the written or spoken word that matters most; sometimes it’s the language in between. And yet, despite baring his soul in the book—Vuong reveals that, after it was published, he felt “released from the novel’s world”—much of the fanfare has resulted in his “being misread and misunderstood.” “So much of the work of a queer writer of color is teaching others how to read you the way you want to be read,” he says. “It’s labor, yes. But I don’t find it laborious.”
Build Yourself a Boat (Haymarket)
“Poetry can be especially elusive,” says Felix, a celebrated lyricist. “So I try my best not to sacrifice clarity for the sake of flourish.” Enter her debut book of poems, a collection that recently landed her a spot on the 2019 National Book Awards Longlist. “Our political climate asks us to make bold claims about who we are and what we want the future to look like,” Felix says. For her, that future lies in an unapologetic embrace and celebration of being a Black woman, as she succinctly uses prose to build, well, a boat that navigates the routes between her identity and the politics ravaging our world. But Felix’s work doesn’t just stop with her writing: She is hard at work as the director of surrogates and strategic communications for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign.
Pet (Make me a World)
Just a year ago, Emezi’s debut novel, FRESHWATER, took the literary world by storm, captivating readers with its depictions of Nigerian spirits and gender expansiveness. Now, Emezi has inked a development deal with FX and is celebrating the publishing of their first young adult novel, which just debuted with five-star reviews and was long-listed for a National Book Award. That would sound like more than enough to pile onto one plate, yet Emezi seems undaunted. But don’t mistake their focus for mere work ethic or ambition—for them, it’s a lot more than that. “My work is urgent across time…I want to build a future for Black trans kids that’s more than death statistics, something brighter than what we have now. If it can live in a story, it can breathe in real life, too.”