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Roxane Gay is an American author, professor, editor, and social commentator. She was born on October 15, 1974. Gay wrote the New York Times best-selling essay collection Bad Feminist in 2014. She also wrote the short story collection Ayiti in 2011, the novel An Untamed State in 2014, the short story collection Difficult Women in 2017, and the memoir Hunger (2017).
Before becoming an associate professor of English at Purdue University, Gay taught at Eastern Illinois University as an assistant professor for four years. In 2018, she left Purdue to teach at Yale University as a visiting professor.
Gay is an opinion writer for The New York Times, the founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, the essays editor for The Rumpus, the co-editor of PANK, a nonprofit literary arts collective, and the editor for Gay Mag, which was started in partnership with Medium.
A Glimpse Of Her Early Life
Gay was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Haitian parents Michael and Nicole Gay. Her mother was a housewife, and her father owns a Haitian concrete company called GDG Béton et Construction. Gay was raised as a Catholic, and during the summers, she went to Haiti to see her family. She went to Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire when she was in high school. Gay started writing essays when she was a teenager. Much of her early work was influenced by the sexual abuse she faced as a child. Her parents had enough money to help her through college and pay her rent until she was 30 years old.
Gay went to Yale University for her first two years of college, but she left in her junior year to be with a guy in Arizona. She got her bachelor’s degree from Vermont College of Norwich University and her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Her master’s degree was in creative writing.
Gay went to Michigan Technological University and got a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Technical Communication in 2010. The Omicron Delta Kappa Circle made her a member. Subverting the Subject Position: Toward a New Discourse About Students as Writers and Engineering Students as Technical Communicators is the title of her dissertation. Dr. Ann Brady was the person who helped her with her dissertation.
After getting her Ph.D., Gay started teaching English at Eastern Illinois University as an assistant professor in 2010. She helped run Bluestem magazine while she was at EIU, and she also started Tiny Hardcore Press. Up until the end of the 2013–14 school year, Gay worked at Eastern Illinois University. From August 2014 to 2018, she was an associate professor of creative writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Purdue University. In October 2018, Gay said she was leaving Purdue. She said she didn’t think her pay was fair and that Purdue hadn’t done anything to fix the problem. Gay was a guest professor at Yale University during the spring of 2019.
Gay’s first book was a collection of short stories called Ayiti, which came out in 2011. In 2014, she wrote two more books: the novel An Untamed State and the essay collection Bad Feminist (2014). A review in Time said: “Gay’s writing is straightforward and simple, but it is never cold or unfeeling. She talks about identity and privilege in a direct way, but it’s always clear and insightful.”
Kate Elizabeth Russell’s Role In The Story
Gay Magazine published an article on January 29, 2020, that said Kate Elizabeth Russell’s then-upcoming novel My Dark Vanessa had “eerie story similarities” to Wendy C. Ortiz’s memoir. The article called My Dark Vanessa “fictionalized and sensationalized.” Ortiz’s memoir and My Dark Vanessa both talk about how a teacher sexually abused multiple generations of students, but the Associated Press says that “reviewers who looked at both books saw no evidence of plagiarism,” even though the Gay Magazine article had a picture of one artist copying the work of another. In response to these claims, Oprah Winfrey took the book My Dark Vanessa out of her popular book club.
Russell said that My Dark Vanessa was not a copy of another work but was instead based on her own experience as a survivor of sexual abuse, which was something she had never said before. Russell said, “I don’t think we should force victims to talk about their personal traumas in front of other people.”
Gay is bisexual. She got engaged to artist and author Debbie Millman in October 2019. In August 2020, Gay said that they had gotten married on their own. Gay and Millman got a puppy in the year 2020. They named him Maximus Toretto Blueberry Millman Gay.
Gay said in January 2018 that she had a sleeve gastrectomy, a weight-loss surgery that removes 85% of the stomach. She is 1.91 m tall, or 6 feet 3 inches.
Honors and Awards
In 2020, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, Queerty will name Gay as one of the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people.” She was also on the 2022 Queer 50 list from Fast Company.
|PEN Center USA Freedom to Write Award
|National Book Critics Circle Award for Memoir
|Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts in General Nonfiction
|World of Wakanda
|Eisner Award for Best Limited Series
|Lambda Literary Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Literature
|Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Literature
|PEN Oakland Gary Webb Anti-Censorship Award
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