Keeping things radical, today’s Zine of the Gay is U.S. Kweer Corps by friend of the archive Hank Thigpen. Starting in July 2000 and continuing through the early 2000s, Kweer Corps were shorter digests focused on the queer punk scene Hank was observing in Florida. In our archive we have issues #1, #2, #9, and #10.
Kweer Corps #1 includes the Kweer Corps Manifesto, a statement of the issues Hank sees in the punk scene and with queer people. A majority of these issues revolve around the lack of revolutionary spirit in punks and queer people who had been the ones ready to fight for revolution in the past. Hank declares real punk dead, as current punks are more focused on fashion statements and mistreating women at shows than any real political movement, and how other genres of music enjoyed by queer people lack action and purpose. Hank reminds readers that “queers helped create early punk… and kept themselves in every scene and movement in between and STILL havent started fighting for the revolution we’ve been preaching this whole time.” He ends the manifesto with a call to action, saying:
Because I’m ready for MY goddam riot.
Because I cant be the only one.
For these, and for a hundred other day to day reasons, Im a part of the Kweer Corps.
Queer punks, unite to fight!
Hank follows this up in Kweer Corps #2 by talking about the loneliness he experiences as a queer punk, and how he sees other queers at the random punk show but nowhere else. We recommend you read this one for yourselves as the writing here is particularly striking, especially the line: “Straight edge kids and skinheads all know their brothers. Why don’t I know you?” Hank writes about the Kweer Corps as being an alternative to this loneliness that he suspects other queer radicals experience as well through the creation of a community of radical queers across the country.
We then jump to Kweer Corps #9, which starts by showing you how to reinforce a penny roll to add weight to your punches. This issue focuses on physical violence experienced by queer people, challenging what “Your parents told you from the beginning, “Ignore them and they’ll go away.”” Hank encourages hitting back when harassed or beaten up, saying “peaceful resistance doesn’t work against individual attacks.” He states:
I’m gonna take the knowledge that I will hit back and use it to make myself stronger. I’m gonna think of all the girls and boys who are too small to fight back and I’m gonna get one lick in for them, too.
Hank argues that through fighting back against bigoted, sexist actions, we can start a revolution, and ends the zine by saying, “Instant physical retribution for any attack. Queer punks fight back.”
Kweer Corps #10 is focused on the exclusion of and responses to the Michigan Women’s Music Fest, a festival that stopped in 2015 and only allowed women-born-women into the festival. Hank sees issue both with the exclusionary nature of the festival, and the trans-organized protests that form outside of the festival every year. He writes: “Here’s an idea – instead of spending all that time, energy, and money protesting against women who don’t feel comfortable with things they don’t understand, all to get into a music fest where people like Lucy Blue Trem-bleh headline, why not make our own fuckin weekend of music?” He argues that there are ample resources, a lack of loyalty among the younger women who go, and no monopoly on the performers, so why not? “If we can create our own gender expression, we should be able to create our own shows.” “With all the cute transfolk out there, I would say it’s gonna be her loss, right?”
Kit Gorton is a current intern at QZAP and graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in library science and English, with focuses on archives and media studies. A rather queer Hobbit, Kit is most often seen collecting things (such as leaves, rocks, books and the like) or doting on their cat, Good Omens Written in Collaboration by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett.