GULFPORT, Fla. | The second annual Gulfport ReadOut—three days of events held primarily at the Gulfport Public Library for LGBTQ readers, writers and their allies—will take place Feb. 15-17.

Festivities begin Feb. 15 with “An Afternoon of Romance,” bringing together lesbian romance authors for afternoon tea ahead of a reception. They continue Feb. 16 with a full day of events beginning at 10 a.m., where keynote speaker and workshop leader Leslea Newman—author of 70 books including “A Letter to Harvey Milk,” “A Song for Matthew Shepard” and “Heather Has Two Mommies”—will present “It Takes a Village to Raise a Writer and Activist.”

“It’s really thrilling that we could attract such a world-renowned author,” ReadOut Committee Chair Alison R. Solomon says. “She’s an amazing speaker and her writing is among the most moving ever written in the LGBTQ canon.”

Author readings highlighting a wide array of genres, book sales and signings will follow. At 8 p.m., comic Poppy Champlin will help audiences “pop a happy pill” with her “Happy Medicine Show!” at the Catherine A. Hickman Theater.

Newman will also lead “Write from the Heart,” a writing workshop designed to help budding writers hone their skills, from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. An author panel surrounding lesbian literature will close out the celebration. “There really is something for everyone at this year’s ReadOut,” Solomon notes. “Whether you like romance, mystery, memoir, humor sci-fi or poetry, it’s all here.”

In partnership with the LGBTQ Resource Center of Gulfport, Newman will also highlight her work in a presentation exploring the collision of her Jewish and lesbian identities at Temple Beth-El in St. Petersburg Feb. 14.

All literary events with the exception of Newman’s workshop and Champlin’s show are free and open to all. For a full schedule of events, more information or to purchase tickets, click here.

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