Looking to stock up on some rad summer reading that won’t weigh down your backpack this long weekend? Want to up on your identity politics, meet and support some amazing local artists, or get your tarot read?
[Sidenote: A zine is a DIY and self-published collection of writings, drawings, and comics, usually filled with subjects outside of mainstream narratives, and unique in their creative design and presentation choices.]
We caught up with one of the Toronto Queer Zine Fair organizers, Eddie Jude, to find out what you can expect at the fair this weekend.
Could you tell us about the Toronto Queer Zine Fair’s beginnings?
The collective began in 2013 by zinesters Maranda Elizabeth of Telegram, Eric Levitt of Gay for Pay, and Eddie Jude of Late Bloom Zines. After many conversations about the lack of accessibility and accountability at other local zine fairs, we decided the best course of action would be to just start our own. We wanted to organize a fair that prioritized accessibility and underrepresented writers and zinesters.
Our first fair was much smaller! Now going into it’s 4th year, the fair exhibits over 50 vendors and experiences usually over 500 visitors annually. We also use feedback we receive each year in planning the following fair, always striving for more comfortable and inclusive spaces.
Why are zines are an important resource both to the queer community, and wider society?
Zines offer marginalized communities a cheap and accessible way to share information, stories and truths that are not commonly acknowledged in normative mainstream culture. Most people self publish their zines, which bypasses the necessity for agents or publishers. You can write about whatever you want, however you want. Most zines are cheaper than books and easier to distribute, and since statistically, queer and trans communities are more likely to be living in poverty, this becomes another outlet of accessibility.
Seeing yourself reflected in the media and art you interact with is an important part of unlearning homogenous ideas of what is considered the ‘norm’. So many queer and trans people grow up being told to hate themselves. In a world that tells you your identity and stories don’t matter, zines are a tool to push back and dispel those harmful narratives.
What are some of the biggest challenges the fair has faced to keeping itself going?
The TQZF is primarily unfunded, and run by community donations. We don’t charge vendors to table and our entrance fee is always sliding scale. We’ve been very fortunate that the support of the community has been so generous, but I like to believe that if a community believes in a project or thinks that a project should exist, they will help maintain it. We are very grateful for the response we have received.
What sets the queer zinester community apart from other art-making communities?
We focus on issues that we feel are underrepresented and undervalued. You will see a lot of that reflected in the art and discourse being presented and sold at the event. We also try to create an environment that is free from the oppressive realities that exist in many art spaces. We don’t claim to be perfect, but we put a lot of effort and energy into ensuring we create a space that queer and trans people, specifically disabled and BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of colour), feel seen and comfortable in.
What do you hope folks will get out of coming to the fair?
I hope that people find a well-curated and diverse space. I hope that they find something there that reflects their own experience. I hope that they find something that teaches them a new skill or a new concept. I hope they meet a new friend or have a space to share with friends and family. I truly just want people to have a fun and safe time!
Find out more about the event and tabling artists on Facebook. You can learn more about the collective and the fair at http://torontoqueerzinefair.tumblr.com. The Gladstone is a proud partner and co-presenter of this event.
To find out how you can have your event here with us, click here!
See you Sunday!
Photos in this post: 1) Geoff, Eric, Yasmeen, and Eddie, of the TQZF collective – Photo by London. 2) The 2015 Toronto Queer Zine Fair – Photo by London. 3) From Pillowprinze‘s comic, “Complexity” 4) Tablers at the 2015 Toronto Queer Zine Fair. Photo by London. 5) From Geoff’s blog, living not existing