“Are you queer? Do check-ups give you chills? Do nurses make you nervous? Yeah, us too. Put on your hospital gown, take a deep breath, and we'll try to get through this together...”
Awkward at the Doctor, a 2010 zine from Eugene, OR, voices some all-too-familiar experiences of doctor anxiety and awkwardness because of heteronormative doctors making assumptions. In 2017, this zine is more relevant than ever! With the election of cheeto-fascist, the increasing agenda against affordable healthcare and increasing criminalization of reproductive healthcare, it's more important than ever to hold our doctors accountable for providing inclusive and accessible healthcare.
AATD tells how hard it can be to go to the doctor as a queer person, and includes a few different stories of bad times in the exam room. Kari Odden discusses her difficult experience learning safe sex practices as a bisexual woman. She shares what she wishes she'd have been told, to “use a condom on your toys!...Use a dental dam! Cause guess what-- women can get and spread STIs, too-- even HIV...Wash yo hands!...You should still get tested!” Instead, her doctor did not offer her any comprehensive sexual health advice that was relevant to her. Negative experiences like these, while common, should not be tolerated.
Another entry outlines Lance Heisler's experience as a queer man with a presumptuous doctor whose assumptions of Lance's straightness degrade the quality of care Lance receives. Lance makes sure to note just how common awkward doctor experiences are for queers, and he stands in solidarity with queer individuals who may be reading the zine: “I should mention now that this story is specifically meant for all those lesbians, gays, queers, and trans persons out there that know what type of stories I'm talking about.” This statement of solidarity lays groundwork for positive sharing of stories without judgement, and with understanding.
The last page of the zine is a whole page of resources!!!! These include Sexual Assault Support Services, Transgendercare.com, Sex Ed For The Real World, and many other websites or orgs that help with queer health. The time is ripe to take our health into our own hands, and hold our doctors accountable! If you have a shitty, anti-queer doc, write them a bad yelp review. We gotta demand fair treatment, and Awkward at the Doctor explains why. Enjoy the read, and be sure to check out the resources at the end.
Ella Williams, originally from Boston, MA, is a third year student at Grinnell College majoring in Gender&Visual Praxis. She's a queer cis-lady who spends her time making music/touringunder the moniker Squirrel Flower, researching feminist art history, and trying to abolish capitalism.
A major way we get the word out about the Project and do a little micro-fundraising is through the sale of merch. Just like all those other cool bands and projects, it's the merch sales that help us to keep QZAP going financially. For 2017 we've got a couple of new designs, and have made more of some of our classics. We're hoping to print some "Read. Write. Resist!" shirts in the near future, but for now grab some of our cutie 1" buttons, or a copy of our latest research zine over in our swag shop.
When things turn bad, when all your worst fears come true, when that thing you always said could never happen actually does, sometimes the only option left is to square your shoulders, takes a deep breath, and yell with all your might. Trust us- it can feel really, really good.
Once you’re all screamed out, take some of that excess energy and check out a YELL zine. YELL, or the Youth Education Life Line, is an affinity group within ACT UP, the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. YELL was founded in 1989 as the youth arm of ACT UP, to work on AIDS issues facing young people, especially AIDS education. Based out of NYC, YELL was born in response to the failings of the public education system to educate its students about HIV and AIDS, and the largely unaddressed issue of HIV transmission between young people.. At the time of publishing YELL #1, (1994) AIDS was the leading cause of death for NYC women 25-34, and “since the average incubation period for HIV to progress to AIDS is 10.5 years, most of these people were probably infected as teens.”
Despite (or perhaps because of) this grim reality, the pages of YELL #1 are full of humor and fun, as well as the spirit of punk rebelliousness and fierce strength. Its splashy pages feature pictures of Big Bird, Lucille Ball, Queen Latifah, Bart Simpson and Rupaul, all with mouths open wide and, clearly, voices up. The newsprint-style of this zine gives it the urgency it needs, along with a sense of pragmatism. Far from pandering or condescending, as so many youth-oriented publications do, YELL feels like it had actual teens on staff. Frank and effective guides on condom use and infection risk are mixed with articles about the triumphs and challenges facing youth AIDS activists in the 90s.
It’s easy to get discouraged. Easy, and understandable. At times like these, it can be helpful to look back and see how others handled times of crisis. YELL is unfortunately, at the moment, defunct. However, its achievements (as listed near the beginning of YELL #1) are nothing short of inspiring. From handing out condoms and safer sex literature to over 45,000 NYC students, to enacting change in NYC public education policy, to representing youth interests at the international conference on AIDS, it’s clear the body of this organization was just as energetic as its publication.
And that’s the thing- when you raise your voice, the rest of you is sure to follow. The worst thing is to stay paralyzed. If you get active by volunteering time or money, that’s amazing. If you do it simply by existing in the world as a queer person or a POC, or a staunch and vocal ally, that’s amazing too. Maybe, right now, all we can do is yell- and maybe, for now, that’s enough.
Dac Cederberg is a former QZAP intern, now residing in Spain. He will be periodically blogging about zines from our collection.
Dac recently graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. He’s a cisgender gay man, he/him pronouns, from Missoula Montana. His alter ego is drag-queen bombshell Lady Dee. He doesn’t quite know what he wants to do with his life yet, but he loves reading, writing, TV, pop culture, and all things queer. He’s a Gemini and his favorite color is purple. Feel free to contact Dac through QZAP with any questions or comments.
We’ve been struggling for the past couple of days to come up with something to say about the election. It’s super hard not to be swallowed by a feeling of absolute doom and horror for things to come. We’re threatened. ALL our communities are being threatened. We’re unsure what the next 6 months will bring for us all.
And, really, we don’t know what in our collection will bring comfort... Some folks will want to get active right away, some will want humor, or anger, or a little sadness to be reflected back at them.
As an/archivists here at QZAP we’ve taken it upon ourselves to not only collect and present or preserve queers zines, but also to act as guides through our collection. The driving force behind this is that our queer lives are important. And our queer stories are important. And we will be heard, and we will publish, on our own terms, regardless of who is wearing the bent tin crown. So here’s a list available to read at archive.qzap.org. It’s a place to start, but not at all a place to end.
- Queers Read This. Originally published in 1990 for the NYC Pride march, and republished in 2009, this is a call to arms.
- Auto Defensa Para Mujaras. solo en español/only in Spanish. It’s about women’s self defense and assault prevention.
- Borderlands: Tales from Disputed Territories between Races and Cultures by Nia King. Interviews and stories from QTPOC folks about their experiences.
- Queer Action Figures. These are collections of queer graphics/flyers/posters from Charlie, Audra, and Tom from the mid-1990s. They’re fun and angry and exemplify resistance.
- Nothing About Us Without Us. A zine about abelism and disability organizing and activism within and outside of queer communities.
- Activism Through Zines. Chella talks to a bunch of activists who use zines in their work.
We hope that this is an OK start. We'd like to do another one of these type of posts in coming days. If you come across something in the collection that moves you, please let us know what and why, and we'll include it in the next one.
Finally, we're in the midst of our MoFemmeBer fundraiser. We'd be thrilled if you are able to sponsor a reader or make a donation, but also encourage you to support orginizations like Planned Parenthood, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Black Lives Matter, The ACLU, and The Electronic Frontier Foundation.