Why am I speaking out: Because censorship is the primal enemy of the artist and of a democratic society.  Because our so-called leaders should be funding our university system, not censoring it. Because without LGBTQ artists what hope do any of us have?  And because the just nation we deserve is not the one the politicians are trying to twist into being in South Carolina.

Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of This Is How You Lose Her & The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, is Speaking Out Loud to end government censorship and stand up for LGBTQ rights.

April 29, Cambridge, MA

Why I’m Speaking Out: I’m back home now in SC and things are heating up as predicted! My being here means I raise my hand and join the fight for Fairness and Equality for all! All hands on deck!! There are so many writer warriors for truth in the world. Join us in speaking out against NARROW MINDEDNESS! Pass the word good people of the world!

Nikky Finney, the National Book Award winning author of Head Off & Split, is Speaking Out Loud to end government censorship and stand up for LGBTQ rights.

May 6, Columbia, SC

Why I’m Speaking Out: The encouraging thing is that ignorant censorship of this sort doesn’t work in the long run. People are who they are. The discouraging thing is that the bone-heads in the South Carolina legislature haven’t figured that out. They will.

Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sportswriter, Independence Day and other novels, is Speaking Out Loud to end government censorship and stand up for LGBTQ rights.

Why I’m Speaking Out: Because the point of a first-year college reading experience is learning to participate in sustained, civil discourse about complex issues. Because we need to learn to talk about complex issues with reason and empathy, not simplification, bigotry, and dismissal. Because classrooms should be safe spaces to explore controversial issues. Because legislative meddling in university curriculum is not only a threat to academic freedom but also a threat to freedom.  Because attacks like this will have a chilling effect on future curricular decisions. Because this book includes over 30 SC voices talking about lived experience in South Carolina.  Because books help us to imagine and understand the experience of others.  Because books are only dangerous if you want to keep worldviews narrow, horizons limited, minds closed, bigotry unchallenged, and difference at bay.

Ed Madden, author of Out Loud, is Speaking Out Loud to end government censorship and stand up for LGBTQ rights.

April 28, Columbia, SC

I am a writer and a musician and business woman. I’m also a wife, a daughter, and a sister. I love South Carolina. It’s where I was born and raised. I now live in Tennessee. All of us out here, even my conservative friends, are shocked with what’s going on over there. That the SC state government would cut off funds to a state university all because of art presenting an alternative point of view. Art with the ultimate goal of promoting tolerance and understanding. This cutting off of funds feels like a hate crime.  My late brother was gay. He died from complications of AIDS at age 40. I wrote the song—IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME—on his 40th birthday, when it dawned on me it might be his last. His favorite line was the last: “All the pain in this world will come to an end/ Our spirits unfurled, ’til at last we all blend.” Marshall Chapman is Speaking Out Loud. April 23rd, Nashville, TN