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For years now, literature has taken a back seat to film and television as the principal venue for gay culture. You’re not likely to see David Sedaris or Rita Mae Brown on the cover of Entertainment Weekly or even The Advocate any time soon. The Lambda Literary Foundation hopes to fill that gap, at least locally, with its “Behind Our Masks: A Queer Writers Conference.” The three-day event features investigations of such topics as the literature of AIDS, emerging trends in queer prose, and self-publishing gay erotica. Coinciding with the close of gay and lesbian history month, the conference also incorporates writing workshops (budding scribes should check out “Cheap Tricks: How to Freelance” on Saturday), performance panels (including “Alternative Storytelling,” with artist Jose Villarubia, creator of the mask collage pictured), author readings by the likes of novelist/essayist Blanche McCrary Boyd (Terminal Velocity) and poet Timothy Liu (Burnt Offerings), and a poetry slam hosted by National Poetry Slam winner Regie Cabico. Evening events include opening performances and a keynote address from 7:30-10 p.m. Friday ($5) at the Washington Plaza Hotel, and a poetry slam at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Circle Bar, 1629 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE; the conference runs from 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the Washington Plaza Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle NW. $70 for the weekend. (202) 462-7924. (Dan Avery)