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Although Lillian Smith (1897-1966) of Rabun County, Georgia, never publicly announced that she was a lesbian, she so stated in personal letters she knew would become public after her death. She and her partner, Paula Snelling, published a succession of literary magazines for a decade before she published the books that made her famous, Strange Fruit (1944) a novel, and Killers of the Dream (1949) an essay collection. Both address inter-racial justice. Even before Dorothy Allison, who grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, published her best-selling novel, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), she was considered a pioneering explicitly lesbian literary figure on the national stage. The first youth novel by a trans person about being a trans youth to be published in this country was If I Was Your Girl (2016) written by Meredith Russo, a life-long resident of Chattanooga. By that time Julia Watts of Knoxville had already established herself as a leading author of youth novels with gay characters. Loving Mountains, Loving Men (2005) was a pioneering work by a gay man from Appalachia. Looking for Sheville (2011) by Matty McEire is a coming out story that also provides insight into the formation of Asheville’s lesbian community. When LGBTQ Fiction and Poetry from Appalachia (2019) edited by Jeff Mann and Julia Watts was published, I commented, “The thing about doing an anthology of LGBTQ fiction and poetry from Appalachia is that you have as distinguished and accomplished a group of writers as you would have if you just did an anthology of Appalachian fiction and poetry or even an anthology of American fiction and poetry. I mean, Dorothy Allison, Lisa Alther, doris davenport . . .”

-- George Brosi