The LGBTQ Center of Durham isn’t exactly what one might expect when imagining a center created to act as a network of support for Durham’s queer community: it’s a large purple house, and on Saturday, it was a packed one.
April 8 was the day of the Durham Zine Fest, an event for self-publishers and others who make DIY magazines. It was organized by Rio Aubry Taylor, Katherine Gottsegen and Molly Russell.
“As a queer trans artist, having it here at the LGBTQ Center feels good, it feels right,” Taylor, who attends workshops and discussion groups at the center, said.
“There wasn’t (a zine fest) in Durham; there was the Zine Machine but they weren’t having one this spring,” Gottsegen, who organized the event, said.
As part of their undertaking, the event reserved 50 percent of the table space specifically for people who identify as queer, people of color, or trans as part of the center’s dedication to celebrating LGBTQ identities.
“We wanted to create a new space that was DIY and queer-centered, and that was accessible to folks who were just getting started or who have maybe not tabled a zine fest before," Russell said.
Rising to its calling, the LGBTQ Center became a gathering place for creative minds on Saturday, whether those minds wanted to purchase or sell. There was an ample crowd ambling in and out of its rooms to examine what each new table of zines had to offer, whether that was free pins with each purchase, deft social commentary, watercolors of woodland creatures doing yoga or entire pamphlets of strips depicting nothing but the mundanity of everyday life.
Each organizer has had varying degrees of experience making zines. Gottsegen only started experimenting with zines last year, and Russell has been tabling since 2012. Taylor, a cartoonist by trade, has been crafting them for 19 years (since age 15). No professional experience was needed to set up a table, however, and one of the event’s goals was to expand the medium into the hands of newcomers.
The Zine Fest is only the most recent outing for Durham’s zine community. Triangle Printed Matter, a print and zine club, also acts as a place for creators to congregate, but it’s “slowed down some,” according to Aubry Taylor.
It was no coincidence that the event was held now, in a world that seems increasingly difficult to be out and proud in.
“Given the current political climate we wanted to carve out a space totally devoid of all state sanction," Russell said.
"The actual process of making zines has directly contributed to my survival as a queer artist and as a human.”
The festival raised $278 in total for the LGBTQ Center of Durham.
“I love that the LGBTQ Center was able to host it and has been so open and supportive," said Gottsegen. "And the size, it’s so small and intimate.”
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