Channing Joseph was awarded a prestigious Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant for his in-progress biography, House of Swann: Where Slaves Became Queens.

The Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant of $40,000 is awarded to writers in the process of completing a book of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction.

House of Swann is the story of William Dorsey Swann, an African-American man born into slavery who became the world’s first self-described “drag queen” and the leader of possibly the world’s earliest-known gay liberation organization. In the 1880s and ’90s, Swann inspired a rebellious group of black butlers, coachmen, and cooks — most of them former slaves as well — to create a secret world of balls in Washington, D.C., risking their lives and livelihoods before there were any legal or political organizations willing to come to their defense, and nearly a century before the Stonewall Riots. House of Swann will be published by Crown.