I am a journalist, curator, and speaker in New York City. I write for folks like The New York Times, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, VICE, and Slate, and other places. I mostly cover queer culture, art, and politics, but also Rube Goldberg machines, racism on reality television, the renaissance of Shirley Jackson, non-linear non-fiction, and the literary origin of zombies in America. Recently, I became the resident historian at them, the new Conde Nast LGBTQ publication, where I write a column called "Themstory" every two weeks. If you enjoy my work, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon, where you can get access to early drafts and behind-the-scenes stories from my deep dives into archives across America.

Last year, I was the recipient of the Martin Duberman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, to further my research on the queer history of Brooklyn. This year, I received a New York Foundation for the Arts grant in Nonfiction Literature for that work, and in 2018, I'll be a resident artist at The Watermill Center as I finish up my book, When Brooklyn Was Queer, due out with St. Martin's Press in March of 2019. In this, I'm delighted to be represented by Robert Guinsler at Sterling Lord Literistic.

My research into queer Brooklyn will also serve as the source material for a 2019 exhibition at the Brooklyn Historical Society, entitled On the (Queer) Waterfront, which will examine the economic opportunities that made queer life in Brooklyn flourish first along the waterfront, and the incredible social ramifications that spiraled outward from there.

In 2010, I founded the Pop-Up Museum of Queer History, a grassroots organization dedicated to helping local communities create engaging exhibitions rooted in their own experience. Through Pop-Up, I’ve curated shows around the country and had the opportunity to give lectures and lead workshops on queer history, AIDS activism, and museum praxis at museums, colleges, community centers, and punk houses of all kinds. The proudest moment of my life might be the day that George Chauncey told me, “You’re making history cool.”

The proudest moment of my life might be the day that George Chauncey told me, ‘You’re making history cool.’

I’m also a development associate with the Urban Justice Center, a consultant for MIX NYC (New York City’s queer experimental film festival), an Advisory Board member of the academic journal QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, and a proud alumnus of Team Awesome / The Rude Mechanical Orchestra. In previous lives, I ghostwrote twelve young adult and middle grade novels, worked with queer youth at The Hetrick Martin Institute, was a professional house-sitter, volunteered on a rape crisis hotline, and typed emails for lawyers late, late at night. I have an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Hugh Ryan

Lectures & Workshops

I’ve given lectures and taught workshops on queer history, AIDS activism, and museum praxis. Invite me to speak!

Recent Work