What is Historical?

We are often asked to define “historical.” We hope the following helps.

Submitted works must be LGBTQ-themed and concern:

  • A historical person known, in fact, to be LGBTQ, or
  • A historical person for whom an LGBTQ identity is invented (with some specific intent) by the writer, or
  • A period in history that the writer populates with LGBTQ characters to show the effects of that time or culture, or
  • A historical event or events that have LGBTQ resonance (though the characters in the story may or may not have actually existed), or
  • A historical event or events that have general significance, showing those events’ impact on LGBTQ characters (either real people or fictional), or
  • A historical work of art and its inspiration by or effect on LGBTQ lives, real or fictional.

In rare cases, a work might be set in the present but involve a historical period—a contemporary academic obsessed with a lesbian historical figure, for example, or detectives working on a cold case involving a gay bashing from a past era. In such cases, however, the play must be primarily concerned with the historical era in question. The past must be central, not incidental, to the work.

If the work is set in the recent past, it must present its time period as distinct from today and distinct from a “generic present.” A work set in 2008, for example, would not be considered historical by us just because 2008 is technically in the past. Works set in recent years must present LGBTQ issues in the distinctive way in which they were manifest in that period.