This evening QZAP, also known as the Queer Zine Archive Project will be gracing the IPRC with their presence. They took the time between a spattering of presentations across Oregon to answer a few questions!
How would you define the beginning of the "queer zine"? Among the first to be published, was there a resounding theme or sentiment?
Queer zines in the form we know them today began in Toronto, Canada in the early to mid 1980s and were a direct response to the oppression and invisibility of queers in the Toronto punk scene. These original creators and educators published zines with explicit queer content not only to build connections and community but also to assert punk identity and piss off the mostly male hardcore punk scene members.
Has the gay zine and the lesbian zine evolved uniquely/separately?
Actually, queer zines have, from the beginning, evolved bisexual, transgender, and zines by people of color, so attempting to codify them in a polemic between gay and lesbian isn't a helpful way to understand them.
For someone just beginning to explore the archive, what are a few zines you'd recommend first looking into? do you have a current favorite?
We try not to impose our opinions on visitors to the website but instead encourage folks to utilize the search box to seek out topics that interest them. We add keywords to the descriptions in order to highlight important aspects and concepts in each of the zines.
Our favorites include zines like Go Fuck Yourself, a DIY guide to building your own sex toys; perzines by people like Kelly Shortandqueer and Iris Brilliant; sexual health zines by the Cascade AIDS Project; classic zines like J.D.s and Homocore; POC zines like Shotgun Seamstress.
Has it been hard to track down some of the more "historic" zines of say, the 60s and 70s?
Yes, however because we are an on-line project, we constantly hear from folks about zines they have or know where we can find them. Places like the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archive is just one example of an institution that is willing to share older zines with us. The publications in the 1960s and 1970s are mainly in the form of newsletters, handbills, and posters and as ephemera, may well be lost to history simply because the originally existed in such limited form.
What have some of the challenges been in starting and sustaining this project?
Since we don't exist as anything other than a collective, we operate with limited funding but do well with ad hoc fundraisers like buttons, t-shirts, and our own zine QZAP:Meta.
We experience such an outpouring of love and goodwill from people that it is really easy to do the day to day work of not only keeping QZAP running but to keep it a living archive that grows with the queer zine community we document.
Interview by Anika Sabin