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The new PENN 1 building featuring bookcases and couches.
Photograph: Courtesy of Rainbow Road

This new book festival will raise money for at-risk LGBTQ+ people

Hear from five authors, including Chen Chen and Torrey Peters.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Written by
Rossilynne Skena Culgan

A new literary festival founded on the belief that “storytelling helps heal humanity’s wounds” will bring an all-star cast of LGBTQ+ authors to NYC’s PENN 1 in January.

The Road to Freedom Literary Festival on January 12 spotlights five renowned writers who will share inspiring stories from their lives and readings of their works. Proceeds of the event will benefit Rainbow Railroad, a global nonprofit that helps LGTBQ+ people facing persecution based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

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Chen Chen sits for a portrait.
Photograph: By Mike Lovett | Chen Chen sits for a portrait.

Featured authors and activists are:

The authors' books will be available for sale at the festival.

Award-winning journalist and novelist Richard C. Morais will host the event. You'll also get to hear from Rainbow Railroad beneficiaries who will share personal stories alongside Kimahli Powell, executive director of the nonprofit.

About the nonprofit

"Rainbow Railroad is grateful to this incredible community of LGBTQI+ writers and creators, who are lending their time and their stories to raise awareness and funds for our mission," Powell said in a press release. "Right now, 69 countries around the world criminalize same-sex intimacy—including 11 which can prescribe the death penalty to LGBTQI+ persons. The opportunities and funds afforded from this event have never been more relevant."

Since it was founded in 2006, the organization has helped over 5,000 LGBTQ+ people find safety through emergency relocation and other forms of assistance. LGBTQ+ people are uniquely vulnerable to systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia, factors that can displace them in their own country or prevent them from escaping harm, the organization said. Through events like the literary festival, Rainbow Railroad strives to help more LGBTQ+ people access lives free from persecution. 

The January 12 event will take place in the evening at PENN 1, the newly renovated office tower above Penn Station. Tickets for the fundraiser start at $150, which includes food and drinks. 

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