medina (they / them) is a queer nonbinary Honduran writer who lives in Brooklyn. They are the founder of inQluded (inqluded.org) and will be receiving a dual MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and Non-fiction at The New School. Follow inqluded on twitter and instagram: @inqluded
What originally inspired you to start inQluded?
medina:I have always been drawn to books and writing. I grew up never seeing myself in the books I read as a queer nonbinary trans Latinx individual. This lack of representation became my normal. So, as an adult, I was determined to be someone who creates spaces for marginalized folx. But when we talk about representation and the way we are portrayed in media and in books, it’s important to look at the industry as a whole as well. Who are the people in senior positions making the decisions? Do they look like the people that are in the books that are published?Lee and Low just put out a Diversity Baseline Survey, check it out ! The best way I felt I could center stories around the historically marginalized was to create a literary magazine that was for and by queer youth of color. I pitched my idea, inQluded, to my school’s Impact Entrepreneurship Fellowship program and was accepted.
What is inQluded? What is your role?
medina:A declaration of creativity by and for queer, trans, intersex, Black, Indigenous, youth of color. It’s resistance. We are a digital literary magazine for QTIBIPoC. We publish thematic digital issues quarterly and they’re available on gumroad.www.gumroad.com/inqluded. Beyond the digital space we facilitate free writing workshops, author panels, open mic nights and provide publishing information for emerging creatives. We are also starting our mentorship program soon. I’m the founder and EIC!
You’re also a writer. What do you write? Why do you write?
medina: Yes! I am a writer. I’m a nonfiction and writing for children and young adults MFA candidate. I’ve just finished a middle grade novel and I am now working on another middle grade novel, a young adult novel, a few picture books and a memoir. I write because...I must!
How does your identity interact or intersect with the work you do with inQluded?
medina: My multidimensional identities are always in relationship with the work that I do with inQluded.There’s something very beautiful about that, also, something very intimate and vulnerable. And as wonderful as it is that my identity is linked to inQluded it is just as important that the young people we are reaching also feel that same connection. I make an intentional effort to remove myself from much of what we do because it’s important for me to understand that just because I may think something is a fabulous idea, it may not be the best idea or the idea that is wanted from our community. My job is to be a compassionate listener. Much like a children’s book writer, as nice as it is to write about the book you wanted as a child, the fact of the matter is, we need to put out work that resonates with children of today, not of yesterday.
What’s the dream for inQluded? Where do you see inQluded in 5 years?
medina:The desired long term impact of our work is to show young QTIBIPoC that their existence is valid. They are enough. They have every right to live in the world freely and without fear. Our dream is that we will have a positive psychosocial impact on the younger generation. The extreme emotional impact of pain, suffering, rejection and abuse has been detrimental to our health. The dream really is knowing we loved our community the way we deserved to be loved. We want to continue supporting our community members and giving them resources and tools so they can access job opportunities within the publishing industry. I’d love to have our own imprint, a small office in Williamsburg in five years! The dream extends beyond inQluded, because the mission of inQluded is to create a social change, social impact. I want to see the publishing industry be more diverse. I want to see the publishing industry pay interns, promote within, and so forth. I want mainstream media to publish our stories for us and by us.
How do I submit?
Submissions are currently open for issue five (joy). Step 1. Let go of your impostor syndrome long enough to submit your work. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. YOUR STORY IS IMPORTANT. Step 2. Read our guidelines carefully. Step 3, do the thing:inqluded.org/submit
Before you go, let’s talk makeup.
First time you wore makeup? What has your makeup journey been?
medina:My grandmother loved wearing this classic red Chanel lipstick. She didn’t really wear any other makeup other than that. I was probably 8 the first time she let me use some. I was always intrigued with it and thought it was beautiful and fun, but I never went out and bought makeup and I know that’s because growing up I had very limited language for my own gender expression and I thought by wearing makeup I was doing something wrong. As if I was betraying myself. Makeup has always been something I struggled with because I felt that there was a certain level of femininity that I needed to possess and I wasn’t willing to lean into that. The way makeup has been traditionally marketed is that it is for women and I never felt that was me. My feelings have changed as I’ve learned to embrace who I am. So, if an eyeshadow palette makes me smile, I’m buying it not only because it’s pretty but because I enjoy playing with self-expression.
Anything you’d like to add?
Medina: Yes! Support inQluded. Regularly and intentionally support QTBIPOC! Read our work. Share & donate!
Buy our issues! www.gumroad.com/inqluded
Follow us: @inQluded