Pre-registering helps us order enough books for our guests and helps us set up the room for safety and comfort. We will allow pre-registrants to be seated first. No one will be turned away, but please note that seating is limited. Please contact the store ahead of time if you need assistance with mobility or other concerns - we are happy to help!
No one will protect you. Months after being named the 2022 Kentucky Teacher of the Year, Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. announced his decision to leave the public school system. His career as a high school English teacher had spanned more than a decade but ended abruptly—another casualty of the cruel and dangerous anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination that is creeping back into the halls of government and the homes of Americans. At the beginning of Carver's career, an administrator warned him about discussing his otherwise openly gay identity at work: "No one will protect you, including me." A new administration allowed for more freedom, but the initial warning eventually rang true. School officials failed repeatedly to address harassment of students and of Carver himself, until he could no longer endure such a purposeful deterioration of human rights. While Carver's testimony before the House of Representatives brought much-needed attention to the need for protections for LGBTQ+ people in schools, the damage was done.
In Gay Poems for Red States, Carver counters the injustice of a persistent anti-LGBTQ+ movement by asserting that a life full of beauty and pride is possible for everyone. More than a collection of poetry, Carver's earnest and heartfelt verses are for those wishing to discover and understand the vastness of Appalachia, and for the LGBTQ+ Appalachians who long for a future—for a home—in an often unwelcoming place.
Willie Edward Taylor Carver Jr. has spent his entire life dedicated to student success. He holds degrees in French and English from Morehead State University, where he focused his studies on advocacy for students, particularly first generation, Appalachian, and minoritized students. He began his work in eastern Kentucky, later studying and teaching in France. In 2022, Carver was named Kentucky Teacher of the Year and Ambassador to the Kentucky Department of Education, where he created a platform of inclusion and advocacy for LGBTQ+, BIPOC, and Appalachian students. His work has been published in Kentucky Teacher, Education Week, and EdPost. Carver's story has been featured on NBC, PBS, NPR, and other news outlets.
"I've lived a completely ordinary life, so much that I don't know how to write a transgender or queer or Appalachian story, because I don't feel like I've lived one.... Though, in searching for ways to write myself in my stories, maybe I can find power in this ordinariness."
Raised in southeast Ohio, Stacy Jane Grover would not describe her upbringing as "Appalachian." Appalachia existed farther afield—more rural, more country than the landscape of her hometown.
Grover returned to the places of her childhood to reconcile her identity and experience with the culture and the people who had raised her. She began to reflect on her memories and discovered that group identities like Appalachian and transgender are linked by more than just the stinging brand of social otherness.
In Tar Hollow Trans, Grover explores her transgender experience through common Appalachian cultural traditions. In "Dead Furrows," a death vigil and funeral leads to an investigation of Appalachian funerary rituals and their failure to help Grover cope with the grief of being denied her transness. "Homeplace" threads family interactions with farm animals and Grover's coming out journey, illuminating the disturbing parallels between the American Veterinary Association's guidelines for ethical euthanasia and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health's guidelines for transgender care.
Together, her essays write transgender experience into broader cultural narratives beyond transition and interrogate the failures of concepts such as memory, metaphor, heritage, and tradition. Tar Hollow Trans investigates the ways the labels of transgender and Appalachian have been created and understood and reckons with the ways the ever-becoming transgender self, like a stigmatized region, can find new spaces of growth.
Stacy Jane Grover is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and holds an MA in women's, gender, and sexuality studies. Tar Hollow Trans: Essays is her first book.
You can order the book on the registration page with convenience service fees. The book is also linked below, available at stores, and at the venue before the event without additional charges.
Mobility device access info:
While our store has ramp access to the right of the main entrance, the event space is more easily accessed by entering at Bayly Avenue. Please call the store when you arrive and we will be happy to welcome you via this entrance. This door is next to a loading zone for easy car access, and our parking lot reserved ADA spots are also close to this entrance.