Home/Releases/Samantha Allen’s Book “Real Queer America” Wins the 2019 Judy Turner Prize for Community Service

Samantha Allen’s Book “Real Queer America” Wins the 2019 Judy Turner Prize for Community Service

Samantha Allen, author of Real Queer America

Samantha Allen, author of “Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States”

Atlanta – August 28, 2019 – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival presented by Emory University (DBF) is awarding journalist Samantha Allen this year’s Judy Turner Prize. Allen and her book “Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States” will be honored at a special reception this Thursday, August 29 at Charis Books & More. The event, which begins at 7:30 p.m., will feature a reading by Allen, a reception, and a preview of the festival’s LGBTQ Track sessions. The event is free and open to the public.

Established in 2016, the Judy Turner Prize recognizes a book from the festival lineup that has had the greatest community impact. Judy Turner, the award’s namesake, was a founding member and longtime president of the Decatur Book Festival board whose commitment to community service inspired the award criteria. The DBF programming team selects the winners each year. Past winners include:

  • 2018 – Gregory C. Ellison II for “Fearless Dialogues: A New Movement for Justice”
  • 2017 – Hannah Palmer for “Flight Path” and Mark Pendergrast for “City on the Verge: Atlanta and the Fight for America’s Urban Future”
  • 2016 – Ryan Gravel for “Where We Want to Live: Reclaiming Infrastructure for a New Generation of Cities”

Today, Samantha Allen is a GLAAD Award-winning journalist and senior reporter for The Daily Beast who covers LGBT issues. She has a Ph.D. in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University and wrote the Amazon Original Series “Love & Estrogen.” She met her wife in a Kinsey Institute elevator, which she calls “a true queer love story.”

However, a little more than ten years ago, Allen was a suit-and-tie-wearing Mormon missionary. In “Real Queer America,” Allen explores the changes in her life and her abiding love of queer people who live in Red State America. She takes readers on a cross-country road-trip stretching from Provo, Utah to the Rio Grande Valley to the Bible Belt to the Deep South. Her motto for the trip was: “Something gay every day.” Making pit stops at drag shows, political rallies, and hubs of queer life across the heartland, she introduces us to scores of extraordinary LGBT people working for change, from the first openly transgender mayor in Texas to the manager of the only queer night club in Bloomington, Indiana.

Capturing profound cultural shifts underway in unexpected places and revealing a national network of chosen family fighting for a better world, “Real Queer America” is a treasure trove of uplifting stories and a much-needed source of hope and inspiration in these divided times.

Samantha Allen will discuss her award-winning book during a session entitled, “Transformation and the Discovery of Self and Community,” at DBF. She will share the stage with Jacob Tobia, author of the memoir “Sissy: A Coming-of-Gender Story.” Part of the DBF LGBTQ Track, Allen and Tobia’s session will take place Saturday, Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m.

About the AJC Decatur Book Festival

Launched in 2006, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival (DBF) presented by Emory University brings more than 250 nationally and internationally known authors, children’s and young adult writers and illustrators, and tens of thousands of readers together for a weekend of fun and discovery. Held every Labor Day weekend in Decatur, Georgia, the DBF is one of the largest independent book festivals in the country. The DBF also sponsors the Decatur Writers Studio. To learn more, visit the festival website at decaturbookfestival.com.


Samantha Allen High-Res Author Photo

Real Queer America High-Res Book Cover Image

Media Contact: Alison Law

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