The LGBT writers to watch

As the Polari Prize jury get ready to pick their literary debut of 2015, we pick out some of the most exciting new voices of the LGBT experience

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Mykki Blanco
After announcing her plans to become an investigative journalist, Mykki Blanco's next movements are being closely watchedvia expressng.com

It's been a long time coming, but it finally feels like the LGBT experience is getting the consideration it deserves. Hari Nef stormed to the top of last year's Dazed 100Mykki Blanco is unflinchingly baring her soul and Caitlyn Jenner is emerging as 2015's most influential celebrity. It's a brave new world (or at least it's beginning to be) – but it's easy to forget how far we've still got left to go. With a woeful lack of diversity in the media and across the literary world, there are still so many voices that are fighting to be heard. As they start to get louder, we pick the trailblazers that will one day be burning their way up the bestseller's lists.

MEGAN MILKS

Mostly concerned with sexuality, gender and “avant-pop aesthetics”, Megan Milks is known for her sharp cultural criticism. Her first proper trip into the world of fiction, Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, earned her a Lambda nomination and heaps of critical acclaim – which is amazing when you consider how weird it actually is. With an emphasis on social power and its effects on the queer body, the short stories all feature twisting plotlines and dreamlike narratives (giant slugs, passionate wasps and choose-your-own-adventures all included). 

DEAN ATTA

After exploding onto the British poetry scene with his 2012 debut I am Nobody's Nigger, Dean Atta has now established himself as one of the country's most exciting new voices. Using his lyrical finesse to explore topics as diverse as racial injustice, homophobia and one-night-stands, his words pack a punch you'll be nursing for days after.

Read Dean's specially commissioned poem for Dazed Digital here

ALEX DIMITROV

A Bulgarian immigrant based in New York City, the majority of Alex Dimitrov's alt lit poetry is accompanied by a heavy load of longing and discontentment. It's a downbeat tone, but not one that's reflective of his motivation – he's published books, started his own queer poetry salon, and last year he launched Night Call: a “multimedia poetry project through which he reads poems to strangers in bed and online.” 

DIRIYE OSMAN

Somali-British short story writer Diriye Osman won the Polari prize last year for Fairytales for Lost Children, a debut focused on what it means to be young, gay and African. It's a courageous collection that explores subjects often ignored by mainstream media – namely being LGBT in Africa, and being torn between your sexual impulses and your cultural heritage.

NICOLE J. GEORGES

Nicole J. Georges is already fairly well known for birthing biographical noughties zine Invincible Summer – the focus of which tended to be queer or feminist issues (alongside a generous serving of dog drawings). Now, after releasing her debut novel Calling Dr. Laura in 2013, she's getting ready to do it again with another graphic memoir: Fetch: How a Bad Dog Brought Me Home. Expect more of the same raw and ready musings (and probs way more dog drawings). 

MYKKI BLANCO

After announcing earlier this year that she was giving up rap to become an investigative journalist, Mykki Blanco's next movements are now being closely watched. Already seen as a brave and vocal critic of social injustice, the outspoken artist wants to take her searingly honest songwriting to the next level. “Writing words that rhyme over beats made by other people mostly male no longer interests me”, she wrote in a Facebook statement. “I'm taking the initial steps to securing what I know I do want, to observe and write about places and cultures in our world not known to many, and to better educate myself about the cultures, gender politics and patriarchy that shape our society.” You better watch this space.

CASEY PLETT

Writer Casey Plett tore the mystery out of the trans experience by documenting the trials of her transition through a regular column for McSweeneys (aptly titled Balls Out). Since then, she moved onto the short story format with 2014's A Safe Girl To Love – a debut that delves and dips into the (very) varied lives of trans women across the USA. 

HILTON ALS

Perhaps not a LGBT writer ‘to watch’ so much as an LGBT writer who you ‘definitely should have read by now COME ON’, Hilton Als's words have been in basically all major US publications with any literary clout. His second book, White Girls, won 2013's LAMBDA literary award for its candid and intimate inquests into race, sexuality and identity – ripping into everyone from Truman Capote to Richard Pryor.

PARIS LEES

Paris Lees has been a powerful part of the UK LGBT scene for several years now, whether as an activist, presenter or journalist (her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Telegraph and she's editor-at-large of Attitude). Her confrontational style has helped revolutionise trans representation – shifting media coverage away from negative stereotyping, as well as improving diversity at the UK's top news publications. But that's not even touching on how good her writing is – prepare for laughs and some serious, red-raw emotions.

LA JOHNJOSEPH

Describing himself as a “perverted polymath”, La JohnJoseph is not one to shy away from a challenge. He (or she, depending on the day) is an actor, performer, playwright, musician, and now novelist – with his surreal literary debut Everything Must Go released through Itna Press last year. Brimming with all things bizarre and ridiculous, it's a queer adventure following an intersexual pregnant teenager hellbent on ending the world. If that doesn't make you want to read it, then who even are you? 

Read an exclusive extract of Everything Must Go on Dazed Digital here 

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