by Jessica Carreras
In 2005, Jay Sennett of Ypsilanti made a bold move. Then just a vague idea, he decided to start a publishing company called Homofactus Press, which publishes books that explore transgender and queer identity. The company’s motto is “Complex Books for Complicated People,” and since then, Homofactus Press has won awards, gained press and, most importantly, changed lives with its books. Though 44-year-old Sennett claims that he never saw himself in a career in publishing, four years later, Homofactus Press is going strong and has big plans for 2009.
1) Why was starting Homofactus Press so important to you?
I wanted to explore creating a different business model than the one currently used in publishing; one that removed the cost of goods sold as a factor and also one that rewarded writers for their work and offered arts to low-income readers. We’ve incorporated green practices into our business model, as well as utilize a portion of our profits to fund free giveaways. We have moved to digital review copies as a way to reduce book waste and we use a portion of our profits to fund our free download program for low-income readers.
2) You’re a publisher now, but you’re also a writer. Do you have any books coming out soon?
I don’t, but we are publishing two volumes this year. The first is “Visible: A Femmethology” in March and then “Kicked Out” in October.
Class. Disability. Transphobia. Race. Body size. Surrogacy. Nationality. Biphobia. Economics. Sex work. Queer families. Misogyny. All of these issues and more comprise “Visible: A Femmethology,” the only two-volume anthology devoted to femme identity. Edited by Jennifer Clare Burke, the book contains personal essays from over 50 contributors who explore what it means to be a queer femme. Award-winning authors, spoken word artists and totally new voices come together to challenge conventional ideas of how disability, class, nationality, race, aesthetics, sexual orientation, gender identity and body type intersect with each contributor’s concrete notion of femmedom.
Here is information on “Kicked Out.” Born from the belief that everyone has a story to tell, and that the telling of personal stories is essential in the creation of social change, “Kicked Out,” edited by Sassafras Lowrey, brings together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth from around the world. The anthology’s foreword has been written by Judy Shepard (mother of Matthew Shepard) and has been endorsed by PFLAG National president John R. Cepek.
3) At Homofactus Press, your “bottom line” is that income or ability should not hinder someone from being able to read a book. What’s the thinking behind this effort?
Some publishers produce books for profits, we produce books for people. All people. Regardless of a person’s income or ability, Homofactus books are available to them.
4) What, in your opinion, is the most important or compelling book Homofactus Press has published?
That’s rather like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. All of them. We don’t publish non-compelling books.
5) As far as transgender issues (such as acceptance, understanding and equal rights) go, what are your hopes for the future?
My hope is that we begin to understand not only our oppression but also our privilege. Privilege can mean racial privilege, size, ability, class, nationality. Being trans is, in my case, also about being white and upper-middle class and temporarily able-bodied. Each of these facts intersects and contradicts other facts of my life. As a white man, I experience privilege. As a transman, white or otherwise, I have difficulty navigating a medical system that would really rather not give me health care access.
For more information on Homofactus Press, visit http://www.homofactuspress.com.