“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

∇Δ∇Δ∇Δ

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.

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.

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