IC’s Garth Greenwell speaks out against transphobia, sets out on North Carolina tour

Garrard Conley

Prairie Lights Bookstore — Saturday, June 11 at 3 p.m.

-- image by Little Village
Image by Little Village

When the state of North Carolina passed House Bill 2 in March designating that restrooms in schools and public agencies reflect biological sex as opposed to gender identity, many businesses and artists vowed to boycott the Tar Heel State.

“Several authors have joined the boycott as well. We respect their convictions, but for us the question didn’t even seriously arise,” said authors Garth Greenwell and Garrard Conley in a joint statement posted today on Literary Hub.

Garth Greenwell, Iowa City resident and author of What Belongs to You (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2016), and Garrard Conley, author of the memoir Boy Erased (Penguin Random House 2016), will be touring the state in the coming days giving readings in support of independent bookstores and LGBTQ rights.

“We’re both gay boys from the south, and we both write about growing up in places that deny the value and dignity of LGBTQ lives,” said Greenwell and Conley. Sections of Greenwell’s debut novel deal directly with the suffering inflicted upon a young queer man growing up in a homophobic Kentucky landscape. Conley’s memoir tells his story of growing up the queer son of a Baptist pastor in Arkansas and the trauma of undergoing conversion therapy.

The readings will take place at local bookstores in Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Asheville.

“In places far from queer privilege — which means almost everywhere in the United States — independent bookstores often offer queer people their only safe spaces,” said the authors in their statement.

Following their tour, on the afternoon of June 11, at 3 p.m., Conley will read from his memoir at Prairie Lights bookstore. Greenwell will be joining Conley for a discussion following the reading.