Friday, September 22, 2006

Touch Me, I’m Sick: Writings on Sex and Chronic Illness

Call for Submissions

Not now, baby, I don’t feel well. Now baby, I don’t feel well. Did you stop breathing the first time she touched you, but actually stop breathing? Do you fuck with an asthma puffer by your bed or show up for dates with a purse full of tinctures? Did he make you break out in hives? Did you spend your 6-month anniversary in the E.R? I’m looking for stories of the intersections of sex and chronic illness­ the touching, the humorous, the painful, the erotic. I want stories of the difficult lines and situations that arise: having to say no, being “too difficult to date,” accusations of hypochondria, the overlaps of being marginalized, sexual and ill. I want the stories of tenderness and “success” too: the lover who knew how to treat you right, the toy your hand could actually grip, the perfect pillows you found for under your knees. I want to unleash the discussions that only the folks that sleep with us get to hear, or the ones we have quietly with each other; what we fetishize and what we resent, and not what’s assumed of us and our sex.

In an effort to move beyond survival and survival guides, I want to bring together people’s experiences as they are hot, personal and painful. For every ultimate guide there are hundreds of affected people, each with their own lifetime of unique stories. I want the bodies that don’t or can’t fuck by conventional means (or possibly at all) to have the erotic spotlight in a non-sensationalist way. I want folks who have trauma triggers and dissociate during sex to have a place to say that their sex is still sexy. I want folks living with HIV and AIDS to have their sexuality talked about beyond disease. I want to include voices of people who have figured out how to work within the confines of their illness, and of those who continue to struggle to.

How “Chronic Illness” is defined: For once, by your own self-identification with these words. I don’t think you require a certain level of diagnosis, or a diagnosis at all. You don’t have to have been sick for a certain length or time or have been sick a specified number of times­ beyond having tracked it interfering or inconveniencing your life at some point or another. Yes, pain “counts”. Chronic pain, injury or ailment is included in my own definition of these words. For the purpose of this anthology, you can have whatever relationship to the medical establishment as you choose as long as you are respectful of the autonomy of others ­ I will not publish pieces I deem preachy. Yes, mental illness “counts”. Yes long-term disability “counts”.

Submission Guidelines:

I’m looking for personal stories, non-fiction essays, articles, well-written journals and first-person testimonials. Maximum 2500 words, prefer shorter, no minimum word count. I am not accepting illustrations, photos, comics, fiction or poetry at this time. Erotica on its own will not be accepted, though I encourage submissions that are explicit and erotic.

Submissions from people of all genders, bodies, backgrounds and sexual orientations are welcome. This is a queer and trans-positive project, it is not, however, exclusively queer or trans in content. This is a BDSM/kink-positive project. If you are unsure if your piece is suitable for this anthology, or would like to pitch something you don’t see here, please send a query by email ahead of time.

Submissions from partners, lovers, caregivers, healthcare providers, friends and allies of folks with chronic illness are welcome. Please submit stories of your own experience though, and be respectful of others’ experiences by not appropriating their stories.

Submissions should be typed, double spaced, in 12pt, Times New Roman or a like font. If this is not possible for you please get in touch so that other arrangements can be made. Emerging and established writers are welcome to contribute. Submissions, queries and letters of interest can be sent to or:

Touch Me Anthology
c/o Come As You Are
701 Queen Street West
Toronto, Ontario M6J 1E6, Canada
attn: Tara-Michelle Ziniuk.

Email submissions are preferred. Deadline for submissions is December 1, 2006 ­ earlier preferred.

About the Editor: Tara-Michelle Ziniuk is Montreal/Toronto writer, performer and activist. Her publications include Emergency Contact (McGilligan Books, 2006) as well as anthologies and magazines across North America. She is editor of the forthcoming anthology Dirt Road: transient
tales. She is usually, if not always, ill and interested in the intersections of her own sex and illness, as well as that of others.

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