• To advocate for the development and production of new plays from LGBTQ playwrights from communities that criminalize or marginalize queerness, and to share stories about queer life internationally.

  • To raise awareness about LGBTQ life in countries where queerness is criminalized to U.S. theater audiences through the production of relevant, well-crafted new plays, as well as workshops and seminars with relevant community partners.

  • To nourish a diverse and vibrant artistic community of emerging queer, PoC, and immigrant artists through their engagement in Criminal Queerness programming.

  • To make theater accessible to NYC immigrant communities who may not attend theater otherwise.

  • Support LGBTQ artists through living wages and inclusive working conditions.


Developed in response to the Criminal Queerness Initiative identifying a scarcity of training and pedagogical opportunities for international queer playwrights outside the U.S., The Criminal Queerness Lab will be a virtual program by the CQ Initiative which will support six early career playwrights from countries that criminalize and censor LGBTQ identities and art. 

The inaugural cohort, launching in January 2022, will meet bi-weekly in virtual space for a 12-month cycle. Each playwright will bring a project to the Lab, completing a first draft of a new play, a re-write of an existing play, or a translation of an existing play to a new language. The meetings will include  playwriting exercises, improvisations, readings, and discussions aimed at generative character and scene building, and will be led by an international playwriting mentor and teaching artist. The six artists will together form a rigorous community where formal experimentation and intercultural dialogue is encouraged. While the Lab will include opportunities for professional development, this program aims to center process offer product, and to empower international artists with the craft and skill sets to develop new work.


70 countries still imprison or execute LGBTQ people. Their stories are often lost through censorship and state violence. 


The Criminal Queerness Festival (CQF) is an annual international theater festival created in partnership with NYC Pride and the Stonewall Community Foundation. The festival presents brilliant new plays by LGBTQ artists from countries that criminalize queer and trans people.


Presenting the work of international queer artists alongside activist talks and workshops,CQF aims to uplift the careers of these artists and raise awareness about criminalization around the world.


The Criminal Queerness Festival provides a stage for artists facing censorship, shining a light on critical stories from across the globe. In order to build a truly global queer community, these writers are inspiring activism and shaping our culture towards the equitable treatment of LGBTQ people in every nation.