I knew that, a few months ago when I agreed to write for Geeked, it would create some very interesting opportunities; put me in the paths of people whom I wouldn’t have otherwise met; and generally take me to some new and curious places. Such a place was Space Station Sixty-Five in southeast London for the inaugural Queer Zine Festival London last week.
Explaining what constitutes a ‘queer (maga)zine’ would severely eat into my word limit and – as with most things with the word ‘queer’ in the name – it somewhat defies definition anyway. Safe to say that Cosmo, FHM and Women’s Own were not amongst those represented at QZFL…Geeked, with its all-embracing feminist take on life, the universe and everything finds a happy home with the world of queer zines and so, badges and postcards in hand (the printed copies of Geeked went like hot cakes but can still be read online) myself, fellow contributor Agne and wonderful photographer Ana went off to explore!
First impressions: I have never seen a room full of such fascinating-looking people. Intellectually and creatively QZFL was a celebration of the diversity and beauty possible amongst humans beings, but that was also the case aesthetically. Everyone looked…mind blowing. I’m only sad I didn’t have a bit more confidence that morning to have dyed my hair yellow, and stick on a beard and a bright pink suit. No one would have batted a (fabulous false) eyelash. It may seem facile to focus first on the way people look, but what it made me aware of was that this was a safe space. ‘Queering’ something is often about opening up new places for possibilities within and without what is already known and acceptable. Here were a group of people who had spent their lives being, in one way or another, unacceptable. That day Space Station Sixty-Five was a space where the unacceptable became beautiful. And it was good.
All around the space were tables with people showcasing their zines that ranged from photocopied, hand folded sides of A4, to pages and pages of glossy articles and illustrations. Some were selling their zines; some were giving them away or exchanging them for other publications. There were hand made badges, patches, and even some hand illustrated playing cards ‘including some mildly spicy images’.
The content of the various zines was wide ranging. Some mags were illustration-led with comic strips on the inside and either cats or vaginas on the outside. Others contained discussions on art, or LGBTQ life or activism. One zine ‘Binders Full of Women’ was a collection of women’s poetry. Some people were selling back copies of Diva Magazine and zines produced by women’s movements in the 1970s and 80s. An ‘urban shaman’ was doing tarot readings; people who identified as Queer Jews were being asked to send out happy Chanukah messages to LGBTQ Jews around the world; whilst, at the back, talks were being given on the history of queer zines in the UK.
QZFL was such a success that plans are already in place to hold the event again next year. I can’t wait. It was a fantastically diverse and engaging place to be in, and chance to meet some great people. Everyone was really interested to hear what each other was getting up to, what people were writing or drawing about, and generally what made the people around them tick. It was a great afternoon and hopefully some of the people we met will want to contribute their beautiful pictures and words to Geeked at some point in the future!
Also do check out SS65. They’ve got some great stuff on at the moment including an exhibition looking at the use of music in the UK Women’s Liberation Movement.
For more info check out: http://queerzinefestlondon.tumblr.com/ @queerzinefestld
All the wonderful photographs (except the wonky card pic) are by Ana Tiene – thank you!
Anna Malzy is on a Masters in Gender, Media and Culture, which is finally allowing her to pursue her passion for looking at how gender is perceived and created within society, particularly on the stage. She is a Shakespeare nut, is happiest by the sea and wants a pet tortoise.