You may have already read on this website about how excited we are to expand the "Authors in the Schools" program this year. It's our aim to put a walking, talking, real-life author into at least one classroom in every grade in the Columbia Public Schools system. As part of that commitment, we're bringing one of the most exciting young voices in America to speak to our 11th Grade high school students. That person is Gabby Rivera.
The author of the acclaimed YA novel Juliet Takes a Breath, she’s also the writer of the new Marvel comic book series America — featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, ever — that’s catching headlines from The New York Times, CNN, Vogue, and beyond.
For those of us not in 11th Grade, the good news is that Gabby will also be appearing at the festival on Saturday to talk about her work.
Gabby is currently making major waves for her new Marvel series starring America Chavez: a queer, Latinx superhero who’s been written and designed, crucially, by a queer Latinx. And while the series is “definitely going to tackle America’s ancestry and ethnicity,” Rivera tells The Washington Post, it’s also a comic book aimed at wide appeal: committed to snappy one-liners, blowing stuff up, and beating up the bad guys, naturally.
Juliet Takes a Breath was listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for women’s history month. It’s a critically acclaimed coming-of-age story starring a queer puertorriqueña who leaves her native Bronx behind to intern, over one transformative summer, with one of her literary heroes: the feminist author Harlow Brisbane. “I strongly encourage you to read Juliet Takes a Breath,” writes Roxane Gay. “It’s quite dazzling, funny as hell, poignant, all the things.” Witty, authentic, and humming with the full complexities of modern life and radical politics, the book was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina magazine.
As an activist, Rivera also gives back. She’s the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”): a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students. That means fewer incidents of bullying and harassment, and more students treated with respect. She’s also worked with Autostraddle.com for over five years as the QTPOC Speakeasy editor and A-Camp staff. As a film and multi-media teaching artist, she’s worked with social justice organizations like DreamYard Project, Inc. And she’s appeared as a featured panelist and counselor at the annual Autostraddle Queer Women’s Conference, and has presented at the Allied Media and Digital Media and Learning Conferences.