“Women Screaming”: QT & queer edginess

Zine of the Gay

A black and white photocopy of the cover of QT zine #1, with a photo of a person in glasses and a leather jacket pointing to a sign that says "Cruise Me Not Missiles". Cut and paste text says "Homosexuality is one of the gravest threats to society in the last 2 decades of the twentieth century." There is a big pink stamp that says "EMMA COPY" in the top left.
Cover of QT #1

Like me, QT zine traveled to QZAP from Montreal, which immediately piqued my interest. Its path there was a little more circuitous than mine, though. It’s part of QZAP’s Emma Centre collection, which collects queer zines that previously lived at the Emma Centre in Minneapolis:

“The Emma Center opened in 1992 thanks to activists who were involved in the Twin Cities Anarchist Federation (an umbrella group) and some folks involved in the Powderhorn Food Co-op. Before closing shop in 1995, Emma Center acted as a center for anarchist activities, sold books and magazines, supplied free clothes, food and weekend child care, and hosted Women’s and Queer Space nights and frequent punk shows.” (source)

QZAP holds two issues of QT, #1 and #4, attributed to the QT Kollective, who were apparently very busy, since #1 is from 1991, and #4 is from 1992. The title is variously indicated as standing for “Queer Tapette” (fag, en français), “Queer Terrorist”, “Cutie”, “On the QT”, or “Queen’s Tit”. It’s made with a kitschy collage aesthetic, campily reclaiming homophobic news clippings.

The highlight of Issue 1 is two stories whose relationship to real events and people are unknown, both told in a dry, satirical, tongue-in-cheek way. “The Faggot Who Thought She Was A Lesbian” is the one that caught my eye as I was flipping through this zine to see if I wanted to write about it.

An illustration of a pair of boots, with text inside them reading "The viewer is seduced by these young men. Yet we recoil from the violence and terror... the politics of skinheads."
From QT #1

The story is about “Alex,” who tries to fit in with a crowd of a-gays who “talked about the art auction raising money for homeless children in Suweto [sic] and how politically correct they were to go to these things, even if they never bought anything because they spent it all on porn pix of white men.”

Unable to stomach that, “Alex took to wearing black, covering her eyes with thick coats of eyeliner and mascara, listening to Skinny Puppy and Nine Inch Nails, and creating an aura of doom about her personage… Alex ceased caring about whether or not she was a homosexual – she knew as long as she was draped in seven layers of black, no man would touch her cock anyway…”

Eventually, via happening across “Women Screaming”, a radio show from “the middle of Ohio”, Alex encounters a political definition of a lesbian as “someone whose primary emotional and political commitment was to other women”, and finally finds an identity that works for her. I always love to see the fag to dyke and dyke to fag pipelines in action! 💜

The second story is about “Dickie”, a fag who gets chased through an alley by a group of armed skinheads, rescued by a punk named Louis, who then fucks him against a tree in a park (it’s incredibly hot).

The highlight of issue #4 for me was its fag hag manifesto, which ends in a call for a “fag hag separatist movement, where we sleep with each other and groovy bisexuals. Fag hags and bi’s – the newest, hippest, funnest coalition ever to emerge! Deal with it!!!”.

STAY TUNED.in upcoming issues, watch for some of these exciting features: - Queer Vampires - tampon tips: just say NO to dioxins and corporations which kill and exploit women... - violence against queer punks - what to do? who to stomp on? what to wear? - censorship - have the sex police caught up with YOU yet? are they? why do some of them call themselves "feminist"? what to do? how to resist? -piercing - the joys, the pain, the instruments...true to life stories!! - crossdressing...the joys of fucking with gender!!! WRITE A STORY FOR QT - it's your moral duty to resist our repressive state in any way possible...what better way than talkin' 'bout queer punk sex adventures??? HMMMM.. VIOLENCE, VAMPIRES, PIERCING.. TAMPONS, WHAT'S THE BLOOD CONNECTION????
From QT #1

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There is, for lack of a better word, an edginess to this that I find so fun. I think there should be an infinite variety of queer media for people of all interests, dispositions, and personalities, but I personally have a soft spot for work that’s kind of mean and gross and horny and troubling, that confronts me more than telling me I am valid. 1990s queer art is a real treasure trove of this! And some of it has aged horribly, but for me, QT, along with work like the AIDS zines I wrote about in my previous post, preserves a rage that I find deeply bracing in its lack of softness and apologies and hedging. It’s not how I write, or how I live, and I might not even get along with the people who wrote those zines, but it’s the work that I’m most drawn to.

Love it. I love it when you go to punk shows wearing lipstick and army boots, and everyone freaks out. I love get all these people yelling at you, calling you "FAGGOT" I love it when you stop at the fanzine table and no one wants to talk to you. I love it when these same tables are filled with "anarchist" and "radical" literature. I love it when bands talk about how we have to stop the violence against lesbians and gays, even though none of them know what it means to live with that on a daily basis. love it when male punks say they're anti-homophobic. but wouldn't show up at a hardcore show in a dress if they had to save their lives. I love it when gay punks say they're anti-sexist, but wouldn't show up at a hardcore show in a dress to save their lives. I love it when young female punks look at boys in dresses at shows, and the jealousy is written all over their faces. wondering why that dress looks so good on them! I love it when no one thinks that doing drag is punk as fuck. I love it when punks think that "hardcore" means being more gendered than the planet of the apes. I love it when people think that a fag is something you smoke, not someone you do. I love it when het punks suck face at a show and don't think about queer punks' inability to do the same thing. I love it when het punks talk about punk to queer punks and say thatpunk is asexual anyway, and then they quote Sid Vicious or someone. Ι love it when your mother seems to get punk more than most punks you know. I love it when punk is so self-enclosed, so afraid of trying anything new or different, that it strangles itself: I love it when people have no sense of punk's history. I love it people think that NOMEANSNO is punk and Devo isn't. Punk. Love it.
“Punk as Fuck”, from QT #4

A friend who’s a couple years older than me in chronological age, but more importantly, came out as trans in the early 2000s, over a decade earlier than I did, was talking recently about the enormous capacity that queer people of their microgeneration have for brushing things off without taking offense, and their dismissiveness about their own experiences of violence (“Nothing that bad even happened to me, sure, I got gaybashed every once in a while…”).

I have been thinking about this a lot! I think it lies near the heart of the infighting around books like Sarah Schulman’s Conflict Is Not Abuse, and in a lot of failures of communication and understanding amongst queer people of different ages and generations. There are a lot of ways of metabolizing pain. I think it can be very beautiful to choose softness and gentleness, but I want people who do so not to write off bitterness and rage, confrontation, and the power of laughing off immense violence and danger with dark, dark jokes.

I wouldn’t have based my whole darn life around zines if they hadn’t turned out to be such a weirdly good way of connecting with people, and of finding people who are moving through similar experiences. Spending time in the QZAP archive, I’ve found a lot of writing that mirrors my own experiences, but they are reflected back to me differently in each instance. They reflect contexts different from my own, make different assumptions, imagine different readers, and map the edges of acceptability in different locations than I might be accustomed to. They expand my sense not just of the breadth not just of queer experiences, but of ways I can make sense of my own queer life.

Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Infected Faggot Perspectives & dark AIDS humour

Zine of the Gay

Cover of Infected Faggot Perspectives #12

The cover of Infected Faggot Perspectives #12, dated to December 1992/January 1993, and priced at “$3.00 or free to the infected”, confronts the reader with a caricature, signed to Rick Cole, of an emaciated figure in a hospital bed, strangled by IV lines, stuck full of needles, and dripping sweat. The zine’s tagline, which seems to have appeared on every issue, was:

“Dedicated to Keeping the Realities of Faggots Living with AIDS & HIV Disease IN YOUR FACE Until the Plague is Over!!!”

The zine dates from a time when AIDS was high in the U.S. public consciousness, following, for example, shortly after the death of Freddy Mercury, but a few years before the availability of the combination therapies that began to make HIV/AIDS more survivable for many of those able to access them.

I am about a generation younger than the generation of (Western, white, not necessarily street-involved, because we know now that the virus had been killing people for decades before it became known here) people most affected by AIDS. I was spared those traumas but grew up with a huge absence where my elders should have been. As far as I remember, I first learned about HIV/AIDS through saccharine, pitying, heterosexual representations like Philadelphia.

Image of a satirical American Express ad, where the credit card is labelled "AIDS Express", with text reading "BECAUSE MEMBERSHIPHAS ITS ITS PRIVILEGE ! ! ! ! !.!!! AIDS EXPRESS (DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT, GIRL!!!) W. WAYNE WAYNE KARR, AKA THE FABULOUS VIEJA SIDOSA, CONCEPTUAL CONTROL QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE, CO-CREATOR & CO-EDITOR INFECTED FAGGOT PERSPECTIVES; MEMBER SINCE AT LEAST 1983 (PROBABLY A LOT LONGER THAN THAT)"
From Infected Faggot Perspectives #12

The records that people who were actually living with AIDS left, as they fought for their friends’ lives are deeply precious to me. A crucial component of this cultural legacy is a dark, dark, dark gallows humour, suffused with rage at the abandonment of PWAs on both individual and cultural levels, the physical messiness of living and dying with AIDS, and the social messiness of organizing amidst mass sickness, death, and grief.

Directed outwards at a wider audience, AIDS gallows humour, alongside actions like the political funerals of ACT UP, aimed to force those not yet affected by the virus to confront the reality that people were dying young in excruciating pain, and nursing, burying, and mourning entire social circles in the face of public indifference and hostility.

Directed inwards at fellow community members also grappling with AIDS, dark humour offered a pressure release from those same realities. It’s not actually possible to live full-time as a tragic, saintly victim, sometimes you’ve got to laugh.

Line drawing of someone on their hands and knees simultaneously pissing, shitting, and vomiting, with the word "END" above it

IFP offers arch advice like, “let’s face [it,] an AIDS Queen isn’t Glamorous until she is way below 100 [t-cells]… sorry, girls, maybe next year… keep trying.” Its articles share useful resources, like “Around the World in AIDSy Days”, which gives travel advice for PWAs, including resources for DIY healthcare, and considerations of border restrictions for poz people, but also opens,

“Hey girlfriend… wanna take one last trip to a tropical paradise before kicking the bucket but you’re afraid ‘cause you’ve heard there’s a 50% or better chance you’ll get something other than fucked during your visit & then what would you do?”

Other articles vent anger at fairweather friends of PWAs, and the unique social dynamics of the AIDS crisis:

“People with AIDS are often abandoned… but the deathbed is well attended and there is plenty of loud crying at the memorial – Nice new outfit there.”

At times, the zine’s tone is more straightforwardly sincere, as with its long obituary for Cliff Diller, who was among the founders of the West Hollywood SM party Club Fuck!. IFP’s memorial for him includes beautifully specific and evocative moments like:

“A celebration of Cliff’s life took place in L.A. on Sunday Oct. 25, the highlight of which was a performance and ritual by Aztec fire dancers. Over 100 friends gathered, most wore green, ate lasagna, ceasar [sic] salad, and pulled together. Instead of feeling, I am over this, I left feeling that, yes, I can do this one more time.”

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Cover of Diseased Pariah News, a zine printed in black and white on green paper. Above a photo of two hands, there is a speech bubble reading "The blood of over 100,000 Americans who have died of AIDS, Mr. President? You're soaking in it!"
Diseased Pariah News #1 (reprint)

One of the most famous examples of dark AIDS humour is Diseased Pariah News, an influential AIDS zine published from 1990 to 1999. All eleven issues of it are available to read online at the Internet Archive, and it is well worth your time. It offered a similar combination of resource-sharing, irreverence, and political rage, with the first issue declaring its mission to “provide a forum for infected people to share their thoughts, feelings, art, writing, and brownie recipes in an atmosphere free of teddy bears, magic rocks, and seronegative guilt.”

Another example of grim AIDS humour in the QZAP archives is AIDS Kills Fags Dead, by Eric Deutsch, whose title references a shirt worn by the singer of metal band Skid Row (although misattributed to Axl Rose in the zine itself, for what it’s worth).

A collaged zine page, featuring an image of two people having sex outdoors, a statue of someone lying down, and a list of rules for safer sex in French.
from AIDS Kills Fags Dead

According to an academic article on “Counterpublicity and Corporeality in HIV/AIDS Zines,” Infected Faggot Perspectives ultimately ran to 14 known issues. There is at least one issue held in Duke University’s Bingham Center zine collection. There is a copy of issue 6 in the Columbia University Libraries and of issue 8 (April 1992) at the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries. Traces of it are also scattered online.

The writing in IFP is mostly under pseudonyms like La Vieja Sidosa, Pansy Ass Faggot, and Trixie Trash, but the zine appears to have been the work of W. Wayne Karr, who died in 1995 and was remembered for his advocacy around access to AIDS drugs, and Cory Roberts-Auli, who died in 1996, after writing a final essay about facing his death, which was published with a preface remembering him for the depths of his solidarity with the often-neglected population of women living with AIDS.

He wrote,

“When I think of what is ahead of me, I feel almost a sense of relief. I know I am capable of letting go and I look forward with a sense of adventure to what lies ahead. If all of you hearing or reading this could step outside of your own emotions for a moment and be happy for me and for my freedom, you would see just how ready I am for this to be over. I’ve been carrying this disease around for many years and I am elated to be free of it. Of course, I have little to no information about what lies ahead, after all, I have never died before. Still, I can’t help being excited and scared at the same time.”

Mia Mingus, the writer and activist in disability justice and transformative justice, writes a blog titled Leaving Evidence, with the description,

“We must leave evidence. Evidence that we were here, that we existed, that we survived and loved and ached. Evidence of the wholeness we never felt and the immense sense of fullness we gave to each other. Evidence of who we were, who we thought we were, who we never should have been. Evidence for each other that there are other ways to live–past survival; past isolation.”

Zines like Infected Faggot Perspectives, Diseased Pariah News, and AIDS Kills Fags Dead, left evidence of their creators’ immense creativity, brilliance, and a mordant, furious, catty, grief-laden, exquisitely faggy sense of humour. I’m grateful to have these zines available to me, and to count those who made them as my elders and ancestors.

Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring/summer 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Queeruption & the value of documenting and archiving hard conversations

Zine of the Gay

A few days after I decided to make this week’s blog post about Queeruption, I sent up a distress flare to QZAP: I wasn’t sure how to write about it in any kind of concise way.

Queeruption is a queer anarchist festival that’s had 12 editions in 12 locations between 1998 and 2017. QZAP holds materials on 5 of these: Queeruptions 3 (2001 in San Francisco), 4 (2002, in London), 8 (2005, in Barcelona), 9 (2006, in Tel-Aviv), and 10 (2007 on Coast Salish territory, Vancouver).

Here’s what Milo of QZAP said when I asked them for their help in thinking through how to write about Queeruption:

“Thinking about Queeruption, and the abundance of materials that came out of it, either officially or unofficially, and the number of folks who have been involved can be a little overwhelming.

One of the ways that I think of it is that it was (and this is my perception and experiences) intended to be a radical queer temporary autonomous space. Because it happened in multiple locations, and was leaderless, for the most part, each instance was a reflection of the needs, desires and situations of the folks who organized and hosted, while also trying to take into account the needs of all of the participants, as well.

All that to say, that’s why each one is different and might be hard to capture the zeitgeist in a single post. Also something something about liminality and the intentional places on the margins that we create and then collapse.”

Each edition of Queeruption grapples with its location in a particular way. In the case of Barcelona, this focuses on the politics of gentrification and squatting. For the event held on Coast Salish land, the event materials have a stronger emphasis on the historic and ongoing colonization of that land, and how to support Indigenous resistance. The fraught and contested relationship between Queeruption and its location is most evident in the materials for Q9, held in Tel-Aviv in 2006.

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When in doubt, it’s good to start by situating yourself. I’m writing this on the traditional territories of the Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee peoples, in so-called Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. I live and hold citizenship on the other side of the border in Canada. I’m a white person with a Canadian passport, which makes it pretty easy for me to cross the border and come here. It’s probably easier for me to get to Tel-Aviv than it is for a Palestinian in Gaza to get there.

The Queeruption materials all make clear that the organizers and participants try, in various ways, and probably with varying degrees of success, to be in good relationship with the locations the events are held. As politically engaged people, they show a clear desire to add something to their communities via Queeruption that would last beyond the duration of the event. In Barcelona, the organizers squatted a previously unoccupied factory for the event. It had formerly produced synthetic leather, and attendees were invited to use the leftover materials to make jewelry, BDSM gear, or sex toy harnesses. The space was turned over for other use after the event, and best as I can tell, it still seems to house artist studios today. It’s extremely cool!

Map of the Queeruption Barcelona space

I don’t expect a queer anarchist party to solve all the problems of the world or the country or the city it takes place in. But part of reading about these events is inevitably picturing myself there. Would I have fun? Would I feel comfortable? If I felt uncomfortable, would it be in a productive way or just a shitty way? And what about my friends? Would they be able to get through the border? Would they be able to get through the door?

I generally feel like the answer is to organize more things, and fight to make more space at the current things, not that we shouldn’t organize anything if it’s not going to be perfect and magically exempt from all of the violence of the world that surrounds us. And also, to always remain curious and critical, to look at who’s in the room and consider who isn’t.

The Queeruption materials are cool because they show a community in the process of figuring out its collective values and how to align an event to them on the fly. Everything is provisional and up for debate. The way the Queeruption zines and materials present snapshots of this work is remarkable and precious.

The festival zine for Queeruption Barcelona reminds participants that to make the event successful, they needed to take part in “DJing, performing, dressing up, dancing, flirting, fucking, talking, laughing, and meeting new people… Wash your own dish, clean a toilet once this week, chop a carrot!! CONTRIBUTE!!! DON’T JUST CONSUME!!!”

To build the world we want to live in, we’re gonna need to chop a lot of carrots and have a lot of hard, messy community conversations. Consensus-based decision-making is pretty mind-boggling if you’re not used to it! It can be really seductive to want someone else to do all the work, and just be able to show up to a fully-realized event. But learning how to work together and talk it out and compromise, how to build in a way that’s really different from capitalist ways of gathering, how to sometimes take space in illegal or unauthorized ways.

Documenting this work gives us something to build on, and shows us some things that are possible but that we may not have considered. And archiving this documentation means that the work and conversations can spread far beyond the time and space of one event.

Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Militant prancing pagan homos: Queer zine parties in the ‘90s

Zine of the Gay

The zine BLOT #2, laying atop a pink mesh shirt, on a dirty black and white checkered floor. Printed on white paper, the half-letter size zine has an image of a child's face, with the word "ASEXUAL" across it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about nostalgia as I spend time in the QZAP archive. My posts this week and next will be about items in the archive that relate to events with a queer zine focus. And it’s really hard to read these materials and not to feel envy those who got to attend them.

Issue #2 of the zine BLOT is held in QZAP’s archive, but not digitized. The zine documents two queer events that took place in Toronto in 1993. I grew up in rural Ontario, about 5 hours away from Toronto, and was 6 years old in 1993. The place I grew up in was pretty bad for weird little fruity kids, and it is bittersweet to read about events that were happening in my lifetime and in a place not too terribly far away, but that were nevertheless worlds apart from my own experience.

SPEW was a queer zine event that took place 3 times in the early ‘90s. The first edition was held May 25, 1991, in Chicago, the second, February 28 – March 1 in LA, and the third and as far as I know, final, version, took place May 15 and 16, 1993, at Buddies in Bad Times in Toronto.

There’s a really cool little documentary about SPEW 1 that’s available online:

Steve LaFreniere, the organizer of SPEW1, was stabbed in the back by homophobic passers-by on the street after one of the SPEW events, but fortunately, he recovered. It’s always important to temper your nostalgia with a realism about ways that things were also more or differently fucked up in times past.

The SPEW 2 writeup that I linked above opens by quoting the words that appeared over the door of the event, which would definitely make me pretty darn hyped for what was to come:

“GAY TO QUEER- Begin to revel in your sexuality. Trained, disciplined, butt fucking, cunt spreading, militant prancing pagan homos. No apologies. No compromise.”

Text reads "“It’s accessible and cheap. Zines, videos, performances, weird shit, party with live bands. A homocore alternative-queer thing (this is not a “convention”)” There is a handwritten annotation, "Hey!" with an arrow.
From Queer Zine Explosion #7

SPEW 3 is previewed as follows in Queer Zine Explosion #7, an issue of the handout published by Larry-Bob Roberts alongside his zine Holy Titclamps:

“It’s accessible and cheap. Zines, videos, performances, weird shit, party with live bands. A homocore alternative-queer thing (this is not a “convention”)”

BLOT #2 describes SPEW 3 as including “an informal round table discussion on zine production, [including] distribution [and] low cost production,” including QZAP’s own Chris Wilde! There was a zine fair the second day with “close to 60 different zines”, and readings from Charlie from MATCH and Lydia Landstreet. I couldn’t find anything online about MATCH or Lydia Landstreet, but I’d be curious if anyone has info on them!

The evening event sounds like a lot of fun, with “a two-member noise group from Michigan called MATCH, and Toronto’s own Ignatz and Chicken Milk (now know as Venus Cures All)”, as well as “a snack table… with mostly vegetarian food”, “a slideshow of ‘50s lesbian trash novels and other queer media”, and TVs playing Bruce La Bruce’s No Skin Off My Ass and “videos about Toronto punk, Crash’n’Burn and Not Dead Yet

BLOT #2 also documents a queercore party on Saturday August 15, 1993, also in Toronto, featuring screenings from GB Jones, and performances from Daddy Carbon (who I also couldn’t find anything out about) and, again, Ignatz. The author of BLOT notes that it was “really nice to see fags and dykes together having fun and to see a pretty equal split between girls and boys.”

The best answer to what to do about nostalgia is usually to try and identify what in particular you’re yearning for, and to figure out ways to bring that about in your present and future life. That’s a tall order for a messy, sweaty, sexy queer in-person gathering, from the perspective of 2024, year 4 of the forever pandemic. I’m sure there’s still lots of events of that description going on, but they’re less accessible than ever to my disabled friends and dates and comrades. How can we build events and gatherings that capture some of the feeling of events like these, but that are adapted to make space for as broad a swath of queers as possible, in an ongoing pandemic?

Next week, I’ll be writing about Queeruption, a radical queer gathering that’s taken place 12 times between 1998 and 2017. QZAP’s archives have materials from five of these, as far as I can tell. Let’s see what we feel nostalgic for, and what we’d like to leave in the past.

Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

How Fuzz Box emerged from the Sex Garage

Zine of the Gay

A zine cover printed in black ink on neon yellow paper. The title reads Fuzz Box, mirrored underneath. There is a photo of someone in a cowboy outfit. Additional text reads: "Fall 1991 - Faggots galore - Justine and her pussy - Juicy Fruit & co interviewed - Sex Garage - Whirling lesbian dervishes - out come the freaks"
Cover of Fuzz Box Issue 2 No 5

Around 4am on July 16, 1990, around 400 Montrealers were enjoying a party in a second-story downtown loft, featuring go-go dancers, contortionists, house and garage DJs, and projections of queer porn, until a spotter stationed outside warned that police were on their way in.

The party, Sex Garage, was organized by Nicolas Jenkins, an experienced event promoter who was used to his events getting shut down. But what followed was much more violent than he was used to, with dozens of cops waiting outside to beat attendees as they tried to leave the party.

Photographer Linda Dawn Hammond was attending the party, and risked her safety to photograph the violent arrests. The next day, she brought her photos to both The Gazette and La Presse, Montreal’s main French and English newspapers. The violence of the raid, and the existence of photos capturing it, sparked a wave of community organizing.

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Image of a raised fist, with text reading, "FREEDOM CAN SEEM LIKE A REVOLUTIONARY IDEA. Freedom to know your own history. Freedom to walk the streets safely. Freedom to have sex without fear. Freedom to keep or adopt children. Freedom to be proud. Freedom to be honest. FREEDOM TO BE OUT. Are these such revolutionary ideas? ISN'T YOUR FREEDOM WORTH FIGHTING FOR?"
From Fuzz Box Issue 2 No 5

Soon thereafter, Jenkins started publishing the zine Fuzz Box. QZAP holds two issues of Fuzz Box, the first undated, and the second from 1991, following closely on the Sex Garage raids and documenting some of the fallout from them.

Unsurprisingly, the zine is political but irreverent. It includes a lot of fun items, like horoscopes, a gossip column, “Titi Galore – Dishin’ Dirty” (there was a party that was supposedly raising money for a hospice for people with AIDS, but the hospice had no idea their name was being used!), club playlists, lots of porn collages, and even recipes (“Chop one small firm and well shaped eggplant into large cubes and spread out comfortably in a baking dish. Sprinkle liberally with 1/2 a wine glass of olive oil (virgin is always a special treat)”).

Amidst the fun stuff, there’s also an article about La Ligue Antifasciste Mondiale, which began in 1989 as a beating-up-Nazis gang, and later evolved into a community organization:

“Presently, LAM is working on a list of bars in Montreal that are either frequented by nazi punks/skins or are barring access to them. Of course, as is well known to lesbians and gays, the practice of refusing entry to nazi skins all too often becomes a scapegoat for denying access to anyone the bouncers decide they don’t like the look of… prejudice in the guise of politics.”

Ads for parties are a fascinating graveyard of defunct Montreal queer venues, including The Candy Bar, an Act Up meeting in the Village, k.a.t. club, Cafe Tutti Fruity (links go to Google Maps, if you’re curious like I was what’s replaced them).

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For me, the highlight of the first issue was an interview with two “F2Ms who sleep with men”. It is a true joy to me to witness the continuity of transfag history, with the interview even beginning with that time-honoured question of (paraphrased) exactly why taking T turns everyone gay. It’s a really rich and thoughtful conversation, including the nuances of passing in different communities, cruising while trans, tensions and possibilities for solidarity between trans and cis queers, and drawing connections between trans and disability communities in opposition to body normativity.

My favourite item in the second issue was an interview with Boyd McDonald, or as Wikipedia calls him, Boyd McDonald (pornographer), creator of the legendary gay smut zine Straight to Hell. Founded in the 1970s, STH, which still exists under new management, mostly collected letters sent in by readers, documenting (or potentially imagining) stories of mostly anonymous and transient gay sex, sort of like “Dear Penthouse”, but with way more scat.

McDonald, who died in 1993, two years after the publication of this interview, shared some of his philosophy of sex:

“FUZZ: Your stories present a lot of potentially degrading situations. Initially you are shocked, until you realize that there is consent involved. It really makes you realize a lot about sexuality.

STH: Those are men who can afford to be humiliated. You see, I wouldn’t recommend that type of humiliating experience for someone who has nothing else going for him. But these men sometimes have satisfactory careers and they have enough money. They live well, and they are doing well in their professions. They might be a priest or what have you, and can afford to be humiliated. They want to be, and they enjoy it. But for someone who is unsuccessful and unhappy in all other ways, I wouldn’t recommend that he have this humiliating and degrading sex unless he wants it.”

He also describes why he handed STH off to his successor, Victor Weaver, in a response that is deeply relatable to me as a long-time zine maker:

“I just gave it to him. It got to be too much trouble. I was doing it as a one-man operation, including peddling it to bookstores, sending out copies to subscribers, and I just got tired of it. I did it for ten years. A lot of people don’t do anything for more that one year or three years, or at the most five years. But I stuck with it for ten years. Now it’s much easier. The publisher has a distributor, so that’s how the stuff gets into circulation.”

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Clipart of a man and woman leaning over a baby, with text reading "It is a simple reality... To be born gay is an honor and a privilege"
From Fuzz Box Issue 2 No 5

The site of the Sex Garage party and raid is unsurprisingly now a condo. So is the nearby site of Le 456 Sauna, which was open for 33 years, and before that, was the Neptune Sauna, site of another notorious police raid in 1976. It’s hard to imagine it being a fun part of the city. But I can assure you with complete confidence that there will always be queer people in Montreal throwing weird gay parties, staying up too late, and hating cops. 💜

Additional sources:

 


Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Gender Trash from Hell

Zine of the Gay

A collage of black and white images of faces and bodies against a pinkish background, with collaged text reading "gendertrash FROM HELL"
Front cover of gendertrash #1

Walking into the physical QZAP archive as an intern and a long-time zine dork is overwhelming. There’s so much stuff. There are a lot of things I have read, or that are made by people I know, and seeing those items in the folders feels like running into a friend. There is also a lot of work in the archives by people I don’t know firsthand, but who are some of the people I look up to most, and regard as vital elders and ancestors. The first thing I saw in the archives that made me feel completely teary and overwhelmed was gendertrash (also known as Gender Trash or gendertrash from hell).

As someone who spends a lot of time in both Montreal and Toronto, I regard gendertrash and its authors as a vital part of the trans cultures of both of those cities. Published under the label of genderpress, which also sold some truly excellent buttons, gendertrash was produced primarily by Xanthra Phillippa, who was a fixture of Toronto’s trans communities until her death in 2014, and “Jeanne B,” aka the filmmaker and activist Mirha-Soleil Ross, who was originally from Montreal.

(A note on names: I don’t usually use my full or legal name in my zines, and I deeply respect people’s right to remain anonymous or pseudonymous in their zines. Since Ross is widely acknowledged online as one of the zine’s authors, I’m erring here on the side of giving her credit for her work, rather than sticking with her pseudonym.)

There were four issues of gendertrash. The first issue, which is the one held in QZAP’s archives, was published in Toronto in the spring of 1993, 31 years ago. The other issues are also available online through the Arquives, which also, delightfully, holds many of the original paste-ups for the zines.

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Collaged text reading "We're just as queer as dykes and fags maybe even more so!"
Back cover of gendertrash #1

Like many zines, especially of its era, gendertrash contains a wide range of content and tone. (As someone who makes zines that tend to be more like a cohesive essay or book, I think it’s doing me a lot of good to look at this style of zine, and it makes me want to make something that’s a mishmash of personal anecdotes, opinions, resources, recipes, creative writing, etc. — that part of the messiness and imperfection of zines got away from me at some point.)

gendertrash places sex work and sex workers squarely at the centre of its focus, where it belongs. To talk about transness without talking about sex work would be to leave out a huge swath of the community, and many of its strongest pillars, including Ross, whose sex work and creative work have been closely intertwined.

Some parts of the zine are squarely pragmatic. It reproduces a brochure of safety guidelines for electrolysis practitioners, so that electrolysis clients can know what standards to hold their practitioners to. It has a section at the end of local resources for sex workers, people seeking healthcare, and for those experiencing sexual violence, noting which organizations “have no problems with TS’s” or are “aware of the problems of TS youth (esp with shelters & housing)”. It also notes local events like the queer zine gathering Spew 3 at the queer theatre Buddies In Bad Times, which is blessedly still with us.

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The zine also contains installments of TSe TSe TerroriSm, a serialized novel about “some members of Toronto’s gender described community,” by Phillips. When its protagonist is street-harassed by some men in a Jeep, she sets off,

“Two huge Catherine Wheels, one pink, one blue, as big as suns, rise up out of the fireball, lighting the street, buildings, stores & all the people rushing out onto balconies & pouring out of the restaurants & nearby shops to stare, laugh, applaud, cheer & give deliberately misleading or useless information to the cops, now beginning to arrive in a parade of sirens & lights, to investigate the blackened & smoking carcass that once was a Jeep.”

After escaping, she’s comforted by a friend or lover, sharing her rage and sorrow that passers-by were,

“celebrating like it’s something wonderful & exciting & like i-did-it-all-for-them, instead of the nightmare it really was. it’s not a game or a party. i mean, where the fuck were they, when i was being attacked? hiding inside their safe closets, shaking & shivering, but as soon as they see & hear the fireworks, out they come with fucking bells on. those creeps nearly killed, would have killed me for certain – it was that dangerous & here they are, out celebrating. i kill four creeps by setting them on fire because it was necessary. i’d do it again if necessary, but it’s nothing to cheer about”

In its combination of magic realism with a clear-eyed look at the emotional and physical toll of transmisogny, it reminded me of the work of another Toronto-based writer: Kai Cheng Thom’s beautiful book Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars.

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TS Words and Phrases
“TS Words and Phrases”, from gendertrash #1

The first issue of gendertrash also includes a fascinating glossary of “TS Words & Phrases.” As my piece last week on the QZAP blog shows, I am deeply fascinated with the numerous ways that gender and sexual minority folks have described ourselves over the years, and our consistent vehemence that the current terms are the only correct ones.

gendertrash’s glossary, also reflected throughout the zine, uses the term “members of the gender communities,” instead of what they call “the clumsy-sounding transpersons.” The people I would refer to as cis, it defines as “genetics, genetically/chromosonally described/determined”. This distinction is also delightfully made in the zine’s usage instructions, which state that,

“material in gendertrash may be copied for personal use by any gender described person or for publication within any non-profit journal for gender described, as long as the proper credit is given. Material may be copied & used by genetics only upon prior written consent from genderpress.”

One of the most interesting glossary entries to me is their use of the term “gender oriented”, which is used to refer to “wimmin, men or people who attracted to TS’s”, whether those people are genetics or in the gender communities, or what I’d call trans or cis. Extending the umbrella out over people who date and/or fuck trans people isn’t usually part of the conversation in the circles I’ve travelled in, and I find it interesting to think about! This concept also comes out in the zine’s piece about the 1992 movie The Crying Game, which trans people in my life have felt a lot of ways about:

“This man is spontaneously and strongly attracted to Dil for her female or non-male attributes. not her cock and balls. In fact, the main character thinks she is a genetic womyn & is surprised & upset to find out that she is not. Gay men will have to realize & accept the fact that genetic men who are attracted to us (TV, TG or TS) are not gay, but gender-oriented & that their numbers are constantly growing. In other words. we’re having a party & genetic gay men are not invited.”

(The glossary also includes the delightfully punk “in the pit” as a replacement for “in the closet”, and the poignant entry “that’s the way it is is the phrase we use to describe how we survive in this society.”)

There is so much for a contemporary trans reader to enjoy and learn from in gendertrash. It’s a joy and a blessing to me that it’s been archived so that I can enjoy it 30+ years after it was published.


Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Queers Read About Reading This

Zine of the Gay

I Hate Straights
I Hate Straights
P.4 of the original 1990 version of Queer Read This, which can be found at Against Equality

Queers Read This is a hugely influential zine: it’s traveled far beyond its original circulation at the 1990 New York Pride. Published anonymously by members of Queer Nation, the direct-action group that spun off of ACT UP to protest homophobia beyond the specificity of AIDS, it’s continued to circulate and to speak to sentiments and tensions within queer movements and spaces.

As someone born in the mid-80s, I have an endless fascination with the politics of the 80s and early 90s, and how they shaped the world I came of age in. So much of the landscape of contemporary queer politics still relitigates the tug of war between revolution and assimilation that this zine captures.

Queers Read This was written in a time of mass death from AIDS, an uptick in anti-queer violence, and a cultural consensus that queer people deserved these things. It is angry, horny, uncompromising, and immensely quoteable (“every time we fuck, we win”). It refuses to hedge its bets or pull its punches or add wishy-washy caveats or to let any straight people off the hook by separating straightness and heterosexism from straight people. It’s unabashedly, invigoratingly polemical.

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The version of Queers Read This held in QZAP’s archive is a reprint published in 2009 as an implicit argument that the zine remained relevant as more than just a historical artifact 20 years after its publication, that queers should still be reading this. The 2009 reprint contains footnotes contextualizing some of the references in the original, for an audience who might blessedly not know who Jesse Helms was. It also includes the update that that “AIDS policy today is still institutionalized violence, though it has become targeted less by sexuality and more by race and incarceration.”

It’s accompanied in the archive by Queers Read This Too, a zine written in 2010, and distributed at Pride in Madison, Wisconsin. Inspired by the 2009 reprint of Queers Read This, a group of eight writers (credited by name, unlike the anonymous authors of Queers Read This), share their own rage at the ostracization, fear, and sexual violence they have been subjected to as queer people. One author remembers a murdered trans friend, and the callous indifference towards her death among cis gay peers.

Both Queers Read This and Queers Read This Too focus most of their rage at the broader heterosexist world, while also calling out queers for our own complacency, for the ways we silence ourselves, choose our own comfort, fail to act as a movement.

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Promote Queerness - Queer NationOne of the main ways I’ve seen Queers Read This discussed is for its role specifically in positioning the term “queer” as an identity that’s fundamentally politically radical, anti-assimilationist, and in opposition to heterosexism. Queers Read This argues for this usage because “queer” is a gender-neutral term that can express solidarity among queers of different genders, and because its authors see “gay” as too happy and unthreatening a word to hold the rage they feel.

This makes the zine interesting to read now, because in many– though certainly not all– areas of life, the term “queer” has been very thoroughly reclaimed, defanged, and depoliticized.

There are queer cops and queer Lockheed Martin employees, and “queer” is comfortably used by organizations like the Human Rights Campaign whose assimilationist politics Queer Nation defined itself against.

Queers Read This deserves better than to be remembered for a minor point of semantics. Words are important up to a point, but when bickering about terminology keeps us from having each other’s backs in meaningful, material ways, it’s time to move on. Any word’s meaning will eventually shift and mutate and slip and slide out of your hands. The term you choose to display your anti-assimilationist convictions will slither away and go work at an arms manufacturer. You can let the word go, and let the rage and urgency remain. They’ll always be relevant.


Lee P is interning at QZAP in spring 2024. Ze is a long-time zine maker, and hir current project is Sheer Spite Press, a small press and zine distro. Originally from unceded Algonquin land, Lee calls Tiohtià:ke // Mooniyang // Montreal home. Ze’s also a member of the organizing collective for Dick’s Lending Library, a community-run, local library of books by trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit authors.

Zine Friends Zine

Emoji of people huggingHave you made friends through zines?

As someone who’s made many friendships through zines, from close friends to far-flung penpals to passing but delightful acquaintances, Lee is putting together a zine about zines and zine community as a way that people build and maintain friendships, and they’d like to hear about other people’s answers to any of the questions below (no need to answer all of them), or any other thoughts & memories you have about meeting people via zines:
  1. Who is the closest friend you’ve made through zines?

  2. What is your first memory of making friends through zines?

  3. How are the friendships you’ve made through zines different from the friendships you’ve made in other ways?

  4. What other memorable personal connections have you made through zines? Dates? Jobs? Roommates?Enemies??

  5. When you read a zine you like, do you get in touch with the person who wrote it? 

  6. If you’ve been in zine worlds for a while (like a decade or more), how have the ways you make and sustain zine friendships changed over the years?

Reply to lee@sheerspite.ca! They will happily send print or PDF contributor copies to anyone who replies, and if they’re going to refer to something you’ve said, they’ll check in with you about it before it goes to print.
~please share!~

In Visible Archives – A QZAP x Lion’s Tooth event

Photo of Margaret Galvan On Saturday, May 18th, 2024, we are beyond thrilled to be collaborating with our friends at Lion’s Tooth here in Milwaukee to bring Margaret Galvan, a 2017 QZAP scholar-in-resident, back to Milwaukee to talk about her new book In Visible Archives: Queer and Feminist Visual Culture in the 1980s.

In Visible Archives book coverMargaret’s book focuses on eight visual artists who created grassroots visual artwork in the 1980s that thought deeply about sexuality and communities of social justice, featuring discussion of comics, proto-zines, grassroots newspapers, drawings, photographs, etc. She will be sharing excerpts and discussing the impact of these artists within the context of the Feminist Sex Wars, the queering of the underground comics scene, the dissemination of Dykes to Watch Out For, and of bearing witness to the first decade of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

The talk will be free and open to the public at Lion’s Tooth, and signed copies of the book will be available for purchase.

Lion's Tooth logoDeets:
Saturday, May 18th, 2024
5:30 pm
Lion’s Tooth
2421 S Kinnickinnic Ave,
Milwaukee WI 53207

World AIDS Day with PATS

Photo of a mural that says “ACT UP! Bi Queer!” over an anarchist circle-A with a pink triangle. Floating around the image are Keith Haring-esque characters and pink triangles with lightning bolts indicating that this probably came from a squatted space.

We’ve crossposted our annual World AIDS Day post to Instagram. This year is a look at some pages from the queer anarchist zine PATS. PATS ran for 28 issues from the summer of 1992 through December of 1999. Published by Frankie, Christine and Oscar in Utrecht, The Netherlands, the majority of the zine is in Dutch with some English and French smatterings.

ID1: From PATS No.3 (Summer 1993), an illustration of a priest nailing Christ to the cross, the word Queer over his head, and the text “AIDS, Unlike Homophobia, Cannot Be Spread Through Casual Contact”

ID2: From PATS No.7 (August 1994), a flyer from ACT UP New York in Spanish for a demonstration during the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Text in English reads “STONEWALL DESPERATE TIMES. DESPERATE ACTIONS. AIDS ON THE STREET! SUN JUNE 26 ’94 10AM: SHERIDAN SQ—>CENTRAL PK”

ID3: A review of Pansy Division’s album Deflowered and the printed lyrics to their song Denny, about a man who’s sick with opportunistic infections as a result of having AIDS.

ID4: From PATS No.9 (March 1995) – A fundraising appeal for ACT UP – Amsterdam – Image depicts a person screaming and the translated text reads “STILL AIDS! SEE, HEAR and SCREAM! ACT UP!”

ID5: From PATS No.12 (December 1995) – An blurb about ACT UP/SF storming the San Francisco offices of the Republican Party and burning Senator Jesse Helms in effigy next to a sticker that says The AIDS Crisis is Not Over. On the lower half is a piece about the 8th annual World AIDS day event happening in Utrecht.

ID6: A photo postcard of a colorful banner that says ACT UP – Utrecht

ID7: From PATS No.8 (December 1994) – An article about an action that ACT UP – Utrecht members participated in at the Forbidden Fruits of Civil Society Festival from Sept. 8-18, 1994 in Slovenia teaching safer sex practices.

ID8: From PATS No.8 (December 1994) – A continuation of the previous page and some graphic propaganda including images of unrolled condoms.

ID9: From PATS No.20 (December 1997) – Making Dams for Beavers – illustrated instructions on how to make barriers for performing safer oral sex on orifices using latex gloves.

ID10: Photo of a mural that says “ACT UP! Bi Queer!” over an anarchist circle-A with a pink triangle. Floating around the image are Keith Haring-esque characters and pink triangles with lightning bolts indicating that this probably came from a squatted space.

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