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2021 Curve Award for Emerging Journalists

Together with NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists, The Curve Foundation is excited to share the recipients of the inaugural Curve Award for Emerging Journalists. The recipients of the inaugural 2021 Curve Award for Emerging Journalists are Katie Barnes, Giulia Heyward, Shar Jossell, Yvonne Marquez and Helen Santoro. The award provides financial support to emerging journalists whose work fosters fair and accurate coverage and elevates the voices of LGBTQ women.

The Curve Award for Emerging Journalists includes a $5,000 cash award and access to unique professional development opportunities. The awardees will form a cohort and work with mentors to build skills and foster an active support network. The Curve Award for Emerging Journalists will be presented annually and nominations for the 2022 award will become available next Spring.

Meet The 2021 Recipients

Katie Barnes is a feature writer at ESPN, covering culture, LGBTQ issues, women’s basketball, collegiate softball and women’s combat sports.

Since joining ESPN, Barnes has written on a variety of topics, such as transgender athletes, racial justice and Hollywood stunt doubles. Their articles on high school transgender athletes have earned them two GLAAD Award nominations. They were also a producer on the 30 for 30 short Mack Wrestles.

Barnes holds a B.A. in History, Russian Studies and American Studies from St. Olaf College, and an M.S. in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Miami University (OH). They were the 2017 NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists Journalist of the year.


Shar Jossell is a media personality, journalist and writer. She focuses on pop culture reporting and writes in the intersections of gender, race and entertainment. Jossell has been featured on Buzzfeed, HuffPost, GLAAD, TMZ, Into, FOX Soul, That Grape Juice and The Wrap, and she’s currently a rotating guest co-host on Channel Q Radio (Audacy.com). Her bylines include ZORA and Bold Culture.

She penned the March 2021 International Women’s Day cover story for Cultured Magazine, and she’s currently a contributing culture writer for THEM. Jossell was also named to Obvious Magazine’s inaugural Visionaries: People To Watch list in 2020.


Giulia Heyward is a journalist currently based in Brooklyn, N.Y. Originally from Miami, Heyward is a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a Roy H. Park Fellow. She completed a master’s thesis where she reported on LGBTQ+ rights in North Carolina.

Her piece on the state’s bathroom bill, HB2, was published in The Atlantic, while her reportage on hate crime legislation and statewide anti-discrimination legislation was published in local North Carolina publications, such as The Assembly.

While at UNC, Heyward was the recipient of the Tom Wicker, and Oustanding M.A. Student, Awards in 2020 and 2021, respectively. This summer, she will begin a reporting fellowship at The New York Times on its national desk.


Helen W. Santoro is a science writer based out of rural Gunnison, Colorado where she covers health, neuroscience, the environment and LGBTQ+ communities.

Santoro has a B.A. in neuroscience from Hamilton College and an M.S. in Science Communication for UCSC, and for the past three years, she has dedicated her career to making science accessible and engaging for scientists and non-scientists alike.

Santoro aims to elevate other LGBTQ voices with her work. She has written about transgender prisoners fighting for gender-affirming surgery in Idaho, non-binary ornithologists looking to redefine what it means to be a scientist, and a trans doctor who is working to spread knowledge on gender-affirming care to other rural health care providers across the country. This work has appeared in outlets including Smithsonian Magazine, Audubon Magazine, High Country News and The Colorado Trust.


Yvonne Marquez is a freelance journalist, writer and editor living in Dallas. For the past eight years, Marquez has dedicated her journalism career to telling stories important to LGBTQ people. She began her career in LGBTQ media as an associate editor for a now defunct gay and lesbian magazine based in Austin and is a former senior editor of Autostraddle, a leading digital publication for lesbian, bisexual, queer and transgender women and non-binary people.

Marquez graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a journalism degree and will be attending the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in the fall. She was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, a region along the Texas-Mexico border.

We are honored to share these five emerging journalists with you, and hope that their stories will help you stay connected to lesbian and queer journalists all year-round.

In the coming days and weeks, stay close as we profile each winner and share some of their personal stories with you!